When I was younger I considered myself a dog person. My first furry friends were two dogs, Joey (who is almost 15 years old and still lively) and Toby.
But one day I decided to visit the local animal shelter with my wife Kathleen and we came across a litter of young, rambunctious kittens and thought it might be fun to give one a home. It only took a few days to realize that cats are definitely not dogs! But isn't that why we love them? Cats have their own unique personalities that can, admittedly, be defiant at times. But all it takes is one purr or head-butt to make us feel special.
Fortunately for us cat lovers, our feline friends are living much longer, with many cats living to be 20 years or older.
As their lifespan has increased, our feline friends are prone to developing medical conditions such as chronic renal disease, hyperthyroidism and diabetes. The signs your cat may display with these diseases are often subtle or completely silent during the early stages. Cats are very good at hiding illness until late in the disease process.
But many of these conditions can be successfully managed, some even cured. Successful treatment is often related to early detection of the disease and immediate intervention. This is one reason why I recommend yearly checkups for all cats and every six months for our senior cats (approximately 12 yrs and older). Cats seven years or older should receive annual screenings, including blood work to evaluate kidney function, blood glucose levels, and thyroid function, as well as urine testing to further evaluate kidney function. And, yes, I do bring my two cats, Sienna and Hugo, into the clinic for annual checkups.
Now many of you might be thinking how do I get my cats into the clinic? Trust me, I feel your pain! Kathleen and I have to coordinate who is going to “pretend” to feed the cats while the other person grabs the carrier. It usually works, but occasionally one or both of the cats will escape our grasps and end up deep underneath one of the couches or a bed. I hope you can imagine the sight of two veterinarians frantically moving furniture out the way in an attempt to wrangle our cat so we are not late for work. And the following car ride is full of more drama, with both cats lamenting the tragedy of ruining a perfectly good day to sunbathe. I must admit, we have thrown in the towel more than once. But you shouldn't give up. Sometimes you may have to miss your appointment if your kitty is not cooperating, but that’s okay. We have all been there before. Just let us know and we are always happy to reschedule for you.
Here are a few recommendations that may make it easier to keep that appointment with your kitty. First, leave your cat’s carrier out with the door open at all times. Hopefully it will become a less stressful place for your kitty to be. Next, consider spraying a towel or blanket with Feliway (cat pheromone) and placing it in the carrier. Also try placing high value treats such as tuna fish in the carrier. Finally, the most important thing is don’t get discouraged and don’t give up. Your feline friend will thank you…hopefully not by peeing on a piece of furniture or article of clothing when they return home!