Another Article Documents Substandard Care of Cats in the USA

 |  Aug 29th 2008  |   1 Contribution


I have been a cat lover all my life. (Don't worry--I love dogs, too. But this post is about cats.) As a child watching Saturday morning cartoons, I took offense at the way cats were portrayed in shows such as Tom and Jerry or Sylvester and Tweety. It seemed that cats always got a raw deal.

As a veterinarian I have suffered from a different, chronic chafe. Feline medicine substantially lags behind canine medicine. And, many people don't seek medical care for their cats as often as they should. Furthermore, when people do take their cats to the vet, they discover that many veterinary offices are not especially feline-friendly (for instance, cats may be forced to wait in the same room as large, barking dogs).

In a recent post, I discussed an article published in a veterinary journal that detailed the depth of the crisis in feline medical care.

I would like to thank Jeanne, of Boise, Idaho, for drawing my attention to another article that highlights the disparity of care between cats and dogs. The article appeared in USA Weekend, and it made several disturbing points.

  • Cats are often negatively portrayed in movies and television (I guess some things just don't change).
  • Cats are more likely than dogs to be relinquished to shelters for behavioral problems, or for especially trivial reasons. One example cited in the article really struck me: "the cat doesn't match our new carpeting."
  • Cats are less likely to benefit from veterinary care than dogs. More than a third of cats did not see a veterinarian in 2006, compared with 17% of dogs.
  • Veterinarians have fewer ways to treat cats than we have to treat dogs. And the problem is getting worse. Canine health research receives far more money than feline health research.
  • Fortunately, steps are being taken to ameliorate the crisis. Several organizations are working to fund feline health research and to promote advances in medical care of cats.

    But the most basic improvement needs to occur at the grassroots level. People with cats must realize that their feline friends have medical needs. Cats instinctively hide disease. A seemingly healthy cat may be in pain from dental disease, or may be suffering from the early stages of kidney insufficiency.

    If you have a cat, find a vet who has a special interest in feline medicine. And take your cat to that vet once or twice each year for health checkups. It will help you to enjoy the longest and happiest possible relationship with your pet.

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