A Decrease in Feline Veterinary Visits

Written by Katie

March 4, 2021

Looking at the patient census at Northern Veterinary Clinic, the number of feline patients is far less than the that of canines, 25% vs 73%. This is a common theme throughout the veterinary industry. Veterinary visits are on the decline overall, but more so in cats than dogs. Why is it that cats receive less veterinary care than dogs? Here are a few explanations.

Hiding Illness

Our feline friends are extremely talented in hiding symptoms of disease. Out of instinct they hide any sign of weakness that a predator would take advantage of. This can make it more difficult for owners to realize there is a problem until it is more severe. Keep a close eye on your cat’s normal habits; eating, drinking, urination, defecation, grooming, etc.

Veterinary staff are trained to ask specific questions and do comprehensive exams to identify diseases in the early stages. Catching conditions early increases the effectiveness of treatment, likely decreases cost, improves overall quality of life, and can even save their life.

Stress & Avoidance

Cats are creatures of habit; eating, playing, napping at the same time and the same spot every day. Taking them out of that routine can be stressful for them and the client. They are used to roaming their familiar territory, then all the sudden put in a small box and taken to the unfamiliar environment of the veterinary clinic. If they only see the carrier when they go to the vet, they will negatively associate it with this event. The next time it comes out they will magically disappear. A cancelled appointment due to a missing cat is an all-too-common occurrence.

To avoid this, bring the carrier out more frequently on non-appointment days or keep the carrier in a familiar area for the cat. Allow them to go in and out at their leisure. Hide treats in it for them to find. There are also calming pheromone products that you can spray or wipe on the inside of the carrier. All this will make the carrier a have more positive meaning.

Education & Economics

This is not true for everyone, but there is a group of people who feel that cats are just not worth taking good care of. That was the mentality they were brought up with. Unfortunately, we see this frequently.  We do not judge these clients; we simply attempt to offer options that are economical and acceptable for all situations with the pet and client’s best interest in mind.

Vaccine Protocol

With the improvement of vaccines over the years immunity to disease lasts more than a year. For adult cats that have had previous vaccines, the Rabies and Feline Distemper vaccines now only need to be re-vaccinated every 3 years. Clients often do not bring their cats in for annual exams if they are not due for vaccines. A veterinary visit is more than just vaccines; it is a great time to ask questions, compare notes from previous exams, and get a comprehensive head to toe exam.


It is a common misconception that indoor cats do not need vaccines. It is true that their likelihood of catching communicable diseases is much less than outdoor cats, but it is not impossible. How often do you see “lost cat” notifications where the cat slipped out a door? Do bats, a common carrier of rabies, get into houses? Absolutely. Kidney or liver disease, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, and arthritis are just a few common illnesses that cats may develop regardless of their lifestyles.

Caring for your feline family members is particularly important to us. From preventive care to treating conditions and diseases, we are here to help. Give us a call at 444-5797 to schedule an appointment for your cat.

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