News Releases, College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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News from the
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Illinois
3225 Vet. Med. Basic Sciences Bldg.
2001 S. Lincoln Ave.
Urbana, IL 61802
August 22, 2011

Release on
Contact: Chris Beuoy

UI Veterinarians Encourage Pet Owners to Celebrate Take Your Cat to the Vet Week August 22-28

Earlier this summer, cats across America rejoiced at having full reign of the house on "Take Your Dog to Work Day. While Take Your Cat to the Vet Week, observed August 22 through 28, may not sound like nearly as much fun for cats or humans, the end result could add years to your cat's life.

Take Your Cat to the Vet Week began as a response to findings from the CATalyst Council and the American Humane Association indicating that, though they outnumber dogs in the U.S. by 15 million, cats go to the vet only half as often as dogs.

What could cause such a dramatic discrepancy? Dr. Kandi Norrell, primary care veterinarian at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana, and member of the emergency care team at the Chicago Center for Veterinary Medicine's new 24/7 emergency service, explains that cats are generally stoic animals and are extremely good at hiding their pain.

There is also a general perception that cats are more independent and self-sufficient than dogs, which often leads to the incorrect conclusion that they require less care and maintenance.

And most owners are aware that a visit to the veterinarian is likely to be especially stressful for cats. Cats boast a sense of hearing four times more sensitive than ours, notes Dr. Norrell. Factor this in with their keen sense of smell and extreme sensitivity to movement, and it becomes easy to see why cats are susceptible to stress and anxiety.

Dr. Kelly Ballantyne, a veterinarian at the Chicago Center for Veterinary Medicine with a special interest in animal behavior, makes low-stress handling a priority for all patients. Dr. Ballantyne and the staff at the center's primary care veterinary clinic, Furnetic, employ low-stress handling techniques to make pets'visits less scary and to increase safety for both pets and people.

Most experts agree that healthy adult cats should receive wellness exams at least once a year. However, cats' medical needs change significantly as they age. Dr. Tom Graves, director of the Chicago Center for Veterinary Medicine, recommends a senior wellness program for felines twelve years of age or older. This includes a history and physical exam, and body weight and condition score every six months, along with annual screening tests and regular blood pressure measurement.

The main goal, according to Dr. Graves, is to identify and treat diseases early in order to extend life and enhance quality of life. With regular wellness exams, obesity and dental disease, two key concerns for cats, and especially for senior cats, can either be prevented or treated before they become life-threatening.

So call your veterinarian and give Fido some at-home alone time while Fluffy enjoys her head-to-tail check-up.

The Chicago Center for Veterinary Medicine) and the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana both offer comprehensive wellness exams through their primary care services.