Declining feline health: Cats get poorer healthcare than dogs

Declining feline health: Cats get poorer healthcare than dogs

Fight that trend and attract cat owners to your practice.
Aug 01, 2008
By staff

Illustration by Marci Roth.
More and more people are sharing their homes with cats. In fact, cat ownership in the United States has increased almost 3 percent since 2001, according to the AVMA's 2007 U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook. (See the next few pages for more feline-related data.) But the number of cats receiving medical care is decreasing. What's behind this frightful decline? There are a few things:

Veterinary visits per year
Lack of client knowledge. First off, cats are just misunderstood. For instance, when a cat urinates outside the litter box, many owners think it's exhibiting a behavior problem. Only 46 percent of cat owners would take their cat to the veterinarian for inappropriate urination even though it's a warning sign of feline lower urinary tract disease, according to a study sponsored by Hill's Pet Nutrition.

The human-animal bond. Studies show that pet owners are generally more attached to their dogs than their cats. This could translate into clients seeking better medical care for their dogs.

Difficult veterinary visits. Finally, cats— and their owners—can be finicky about going to the veterinarian. Cats are known for their disdain of car rides, especially those that end at a veterinary practice. So once cat owners suffer through getting their howling cats to the veterinarian, they want to feel welcomed. Most of all, they hope veterinarians and team members will exhibit genuine concern and adoration for cats—most importantly, their own (see "Three Tips for Attracting Cat Owners," page 81).

The silver lining is that you can help make changes in all three of these areas. Check out the following pages for tips on how to improve your client bonds and your feline-related care. In turn, you'll end up helping cats live healthier, happier lives.

Cat and dog owners' feelings toward their pets