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Over half of US cats not receiving adequate medical care

Going to the vet isn't as scary as it seems
Going to the vet isn't as scary as it seems
Liane Ehrich

The veterinary profession has been trying desperately trying to woo cat owners. There are currently more cats living in households than dogs. They certainly account for more videos and shared pictures on the web than do dogs, yet in most veterinary hospitals only one-third of their patients are cats.

Veterinarians have been adding cat-only exam rooms, cat-only waiting rooms, cat-only visiting hours. Their blogs are filled with cat-centered advice on cat health and the necessity of cats being seen by their veterinarians. They hold in-hospital meetings to discuss keeping calm, and they hold nationwide conversations on how to reach out to cat owners and bring home the message that most cats are not receiving adequate medical care.

According to the Bayer Usage Study III, owners give many reasons for their failure to provide adequate care for their felines. According to the study, 59% of cats were acquired without prior intent. They were found or showed up at their owner's door. Due to this, many people see cats as independent and self-suffiencient. Cats are also seen as a low-cost low-effort alternative to a dog. They cost nothing to acquire, cost very little to feed and do not need leashes, training, a yard or expensive kenneling when owners leave.

Cat owners also believe that if they see nothing wrong with their cats, then they do not need to be seen by a veterinarian. Many veterinarians are faced with the "you'll see her when she's sick scenario". Eight-one percent of cat owners felt that their cats were doing fine, implying that a veterinary visit is a waste of time and money.

Lastly many owners see cats as pets and dogs as companions. So, while veterinarians bend over backward to make their hospitals more cat-friendly, and inform their clients time and again how important veterinary care is for cats, the majority of cat owners aren't listening and will not change until society places a larger ethical burden on pet owners to provide more than the bare minimum of care.

Cats do require veterinary care. They require annual veterinary visits, they require rabies vaccination, they require dental care, and as they age they will probably require additional care, just like people and dogs do.

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