I find it so sad that the number of cats in Canada far outnumber the number of dogs yet we are much more likely to see dogs at the vet clinic. I am not sure why this is. I refuse to believe that it is because people think dogs are more important than cats.
Being a cat owner, I have a couple guesses. Not that any of this happens in my household…let me offer a scenario…
Fluffy is due for her annual physical examination. Who wants to be the one to get the carrier out of the garage/attic/corner of the basement lost amidst all the outgrown kids clothes, toys and cobwebs? Then who wants to go looking for Fluffy that has run to hide somewhere when she heard you go looking for the carrier? I mean, really, how do they know? It’s like they have a sixth sense that this is not going to be an ordinary day… Ok, so you have found the carrier, you have found the cat- the whole ordeal has only lasted 20 minutes.
Now you get to relive your childhood! Remember how easy it used to be to crawl under the bed? Surely it cannot be that hard to catch that barely out of your reach lovely feline. Except it is. Ok, now you’ve done it; you’re under the bed. And, your cat is long gone. So, there you are, stuck under the bed. It takes another 10 minutes to unstick yourself and you are out of breath. You run around trying to rally Fluffy. You offer treats- that works. You wrestle her into the carrier- it is amazing how nimble 20lb. Fluffy is. Thankfully! You are on your way. Another 20 minutes have passed.
No need for coffee today my friend. You have just run the marathon of cat wrangling. Now, you are stressed and Fluffy is making noises you have never heard before. There is a nasty smell and it sounds like she might have thrown up those treats you gave her. You are pretty sure she does not like the car ride. Come to think of it, you aren’t enjoying it either and you are now 35 minutes behind schedule… You finally get to the vet where you and Fluffy are greeted by a room full of dogs. They are really excited to see you and Fluffy. Let’s throw in a couple of curious kids that are poking their fingers in the cage and want to pet Fluffy. Just what you were hoping for on this lovely Wednesday morning…
You are in the examination room – Fluffy smells and the carrier smells. Finally the vet comes in to see Fluffy. By this point, Fluffy has had enough. She is hiding under the chair and hissing at anyone who tries to go near her including yourself. The vet calls the technician in and here come the towels and gloves. If we are lucky no one gets hurt. It is unlikely Fluffy gets a proper examination but at least she can get her vaccines updated.
You are actually relieved when it is done. If you are lucky, someone has cleaned the carrier for you and offered a fresh blanket and the dogs are out of the waiting area when you pay your bill (examination, vaccinations and stool sample). The stool sample you know for sure Fluffy provided…The examination? Well the vet had a look at her teeth from afar and couldn’t hear the heart through the growling/hissing but other than that everything seemed ok.
The ride home is uneventful. Fluffy hides for 2 days, then, all is back to normal. Unless of course, you are lucky enough to have other cats at home (most owners have at least 2). Then, the other cat will attack Fluffy because she has come home carrying all sorts of new odors and stress hormones.
This is motivating you to bring your cat in, no?
It’s not a true story exactly but sadly, for many cats, this is how it is.
At Holland Street Veterinary Services, our goal is to make every visit as stress-free as possible for all involved. We welcome feedback and suggestions you might have. What could motivate you to bring your cat in for a checkup?
Here are some ideas we are implementing: cat friendly examination room with cat nip toys, cat grass and Feliway diffuser (a plug in that releases cat pheromones and makes cats feel more at ease). We are looking at ordering cat carriers that we can put a blanket in (sprayed with Feliway) that can be picked up prior to transport – so you don’t need to go digging around for the cobweb infested one in the attic. We let cats explore and familiarize themselves with the surrounding prior to the exam. We are looking at becoming an accredited house calls facility and having cat only examination days.
Finally I saw a kitten today. It had been a week. I miss my feline friends. I love dogs, I really do but how is it fair that all those kitties are being ignored? Unless we see them, we cannot help. Annual physical examination (semi annual for our geriatric cats) can allow us to diagnose diseases early. By catching things early, we can develop a treatment plan that could prolong Fluffy’s life. How can we be of assistance? What do you think would make your friend’s visit more pleasant? Please tell us.