As a veterinarian, one of the most frustrating things I can hear from a pet owner is:

“My cat is healthy. He doesn’t need to see a vet. He stays indoors.”

My question to you, cat owner, is: How do you know he is healthy?

Only about 25% of the patients we see at FAH are cats. However, statistics show that the number of pet cats in the United States is very close to the number of pet dogs. So why aren’t 50% of my patients cats? Because pet owners make the dangerous mistake of assuming their indoor cat doesn’t need healthcare.

This could not be further from the truth. The vast majority of disease processes in cats have nothing to do with whether or not they go outdoors.

Here are some interesting statistics:

  • 90% of indoor cats have dental disease
  • 60% of senior cats have arthritis
  • 30% of cats over 10 years old have kidney disease
  • 10% of senior cats have an overactive thyroid gland
  • 60% of indoor cats are overweight or obese

How do you know your cat is healthy without seeing a vet? The short answer is: you don’t. Your cat cannot and will not tell you something hurts. He cannot and will not tell you he’s sick (until he’s very sick). An annual visit to the vet is the best way to ensure your cat is healthy (and twice a year for seniors!) Your veterinarian is trained to evaluate your cat’s teeth, his eyes, his heart, his abdomen, his joints, his haircoat, and dozens of other things that the average pet owner cannot evaluate. Your vet will probably recommend annual lab work to screen for the above illnesses. Diseases that are caught early and properly managed have a far better outcome than those caught after the disease has progressed.

There’s nothing more frustrating than meeting a 15 year old very sick cat for the first time. Pet owners ask me “Is there anything that could have been done to prevent this, doctor?” YES! You could have brought your cat in for annual visits. We could have caught this disease early and started to manage it properly. Cats hide their illness, so by the time you can see that your cat is sick, he is already VERY sick. Please don’t wait until your cat is sick to bring him in.

So next time you’re enjoying the company of your indoor cat, consider making an appointment with your vet to ensure she is healthy.

Cats should be seen by their veterinarian once yearly. We want your cat to live a long, healthy, and comfortable life, but we can’t help you unless you help her!

Until next time,
Dr. April Finan