We recommend annual wellness visits for both dogs and cats. At these visits, we perform thorough physical exams, vaccinate or run blood titers to see if vaccines are needed, and test dogs for heartworm disease, tick-borne diseases, and intestinal parasites. We emphasize preventative medicine, dental care, and nutrition as well as address any questions or concerns you have about your pet. While we recommend that all pets visit us at least once a year, more frequent exams can better help prevent disease and chronic problems, especially in older animals.
The Importance of Wellness Visits for Our Feline Friends
We know how difficult it can be to take your cat to the vet. He hates the carrier! He hides under the bed. He howls non-stop and then urinates from the stress. She gets home and won’t speak to you for a week. And since your cat, being a cat, will do everything in his power to hide any sign of illness or discomfort, he seems fine. So, why go to the vet?
We believe annual comprehensive wellness examinations are important for all cats, no matter their age and apparent health. Senior cats or those with chronic conditions should be seen more frequently. These visits give us a chance to discuss and assess your cat’s diet and appetite, gastrointestinal health, urinary habits, and any behavior changes that might indicate something is going on. In addition, we talk about your cat’s lifestyle, environmental enrichment, disease and parasite prevention, and what to expect as your cat grows older.
An appointment always begins with one of our veterinarians getting a full history of how your cat has been doing at home since his last visit. During this time, your cat has a chance to relax and get acclimated to his new surroundings. A thorough physical examination is performed to detect conditions that may affect your cat’s health before they become unmanageable, painful, or more costly to treat. We will listen for heart murmurs and look for dental tartar and gingivitis, tooth resorption, weight loss, weight gain, lumps, and any abnormal size or shape of abdominal organs. In some cases, we’ll recommend blood and/or urine tests to assess overall organ function and internal health. Early detection of any problem is the goal. Diabetes, if caught early, can sometimes be managed or even reversed with a diet change alone. We always want to treat hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) before it leads to high blood pressure, structural heart changes, and kidney damage. And the earlier we are able to treat painful periodontal disease and tooth resorption, the happier your cat’s life will be!
We try to make your cat’s visit as easy as possible! At Abingdon Square Veterinary Clinic, we emphasize low stress handling of our patients. We focus on having a quiet environment, taking our time, minimizing the amount and strength of restraint, and rewarding our patients with delicious treats and praise. We believe that these techniques set us apart from other animal hospitals.
But no amount of gentleness on our part will necessarily make getting your cat here any easier. Cats do not like new situations, and the carrier, transportation (street noises, subway, cab) and the veterinary hospital are all unfamiliar. If we can make it easier to get your cat into the carrier, the entire veterinary visit may become less stressful. Here are some tips to make this process easier for the both of you.
- Understanding your cat’s behavior
- Cats can sense our anxiety and frustration, which may cause them to become fearful or anxious. Stay calm.
- Give rewards to encourage and reinforce positive behavior. A reward is what your cat finds highly desirable, such as food, play, or affection. Be persistent and consistent; reward your cat every time he sits calmly in or around the carrier. It is important to know that cats do not learn from punishment or force.
- Helping your cat become comfortable with the carrier
- Leave the carrier in a comfortable, safe place in the home where it is always available.
- Place soft bedding inside the carrier. Bedding or clothing with your scent can make your cat feel more secure.
- Place treats, catnip, or toys inside the carrier to encourage your cat to enter it.
- It may take days or weeks before your cat starts to trust the carrier. Be patient and reward all desired behaviors.
- Getting an unwilling cat to the vet when there isn’t time to acclimate him to the carrier
- Put the carrier in a small room with few hiding places. Bring your cat into the room and close the door. Move slowly and calmly.
- Do not chase your cat to get it into the carrier. Try to encourage him with treats or toys to walk into the carrier himself.
- If your cat won’t walk into the carrier, gently cradle your cat and lower him into the carrier. You can also remove the top half of the carrier, gently place him on the bottom half, and then quietly replace the top.
- Consider spraying synthetic feline facial pheromone (Feliway) into the carrier at least 30 minutes prior to transport in an effort to calm your cat.
- Coming home – keeping the peace in a multi-cat household
- Cats are very sensitive to smell and unfamiliar smells, resulting in one cat no longer recognizing the other(s). This can cause aggressive behaviors between your cats.
- Leave your cat in his carrier for several minutes to see how all the cats react.
- If the cats appear calm and peaceful, let your cat out of the carrier.
- If there is tension between the cats, let your cat out of his carrier in a separate, confined room. Keep him there for several hours with food, water, and a litter box until all the cats acclimate to each other again.
If you have any questions or wish to schedule an appointment for your cat’s comprehensive wellness examination, please call us at 212.242.9169. Drs. DeLorenzo, Goldberg, Burdon, and Seaward and the staff of Abingdon Square Veterinary Clinic look forward to seeing you.
Partly adapted from the AAFP website and AAFP brochure – Getting Your Cat to the Veterinarian