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Yearly wellness exams help keep cats healthy

To the Editor:

Did you know that Vermonters have the highest percentage of households with cats in the United States? One action you can take for your beloved cat (besides buying a new toy that they will ignore and play with a paper bag instead) which will keep it happy and healthy is to have a wellness exam done, yearly.

There’s no better time like the present: August 22nd is National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day. Regular checkups are part of being a responsible caregiver. They can help avoid medical emergencies by detecting conditions or diseases before they become significant, painful, or costlier to treat.

A common misconception is that ‘indoors only’ cats don’t need regular check-ups. There are many reasons why they do! Cats age more rapidly than humans, and checkups are crucial because a lot can happen in a “cat year.” And, cats are masters of hiding illness and pain.

A physical exam by your veterinarian, who is trained to detect subtle signs of disease, is essential to keeping your cat happy and healthy. “Indoor only” cats can still develop heart disease, obesity, asthma, diabetes, kidney disease, cancer, parasites, and more.

Dental disease and arthritis are extremely common in cats, and these conditions hurt. In fact, the most common disease in cats 3 years and older is dental disease. By age 10, 90 percent of cats show signs on x-rays of arthritis. Older cats “slowing down” is often attributed to age, but in fact it is often arthritis pain.

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One obstacle we can all empathize with is the dreaded cat carrier. So many of us are reluctant to bring the cat in to the vet because we can’t get the cat there safely. This is a valid concern, as without being in a carrier, a cat running loose in your car risks being killed in a car accident or escaping from the car. At the same time, none of us wants to fight the unwilling cat!

An excellent resource on getting your cat into the carrier and to the vet is the website of the American Association of Feline Practitioners, and choose cat care at home — how to get your cat to the veterinarian. If you don’t have internet access, then give your veterinarian a call for help.

We know you love your cats: we do, too! We want them around for a long time and yearly physical exams are the best way to do it. Call your vet today and schedule a check-up. For more information on why yearly cat visits are essential for your cat, go to

M. Kathleen Shaw DVM

Vermont Veterinary Medical Association

North Bennington


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