SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Lifestyle

June 28, 2013

Vet Connection: Why cats should see a veterinarian on a regular basis

People often admire cats for their independent nature, but that same self-sufficient attitude may also be responsible for a lack of veterinary care. Cat owners often think that their kitties are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves and don’t need any medical attention. Many cats are never brought to the vet for a wellness exam in their lifetime, while silent but easily preventable conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, hypothyroidism and dental disease are quickly rising among our cats.

There are many reasons to get your apparently healthy cat to the veterinarian. Reason No. 1 is that it is a law in Massachusetts that every cat be vaccinated against rabies. That is how we prevent humans from contracting rabies — by protecting our hunter cats from getting it.

All indoor cats are at risk of contracting rabies from a bat and then transmitting the killer disease to their human housemates. Within the past two years, a person died in Massachusetts from rabies.

Another reason to get your cat to the vet once or twice a year is parasite prevention. A stool sample should be examined every year to protect you and your cat from parasites. Cats may contract roundworm and hookworm. Even an indoor cat can contract eggs from digging in potting soil or from worm eggs being tracked in on shoes. The eggs, if ingested or touched by a human, can infect the human, migrate throughout the body and cause blindness.

Your cat can contract heartworm from one mosquito bite. Symptoms are asthma-like symptoms, vomiting or sudden death. Heartworm in cats is an easily preventable disease.

Fleas are what transmitted the bubonic plague. They also transmit Bartonella, which is cat scratch fever. Cat scratch fever can cause very bad skin infections and lesions on humans. You do not want fleas in your house. For a good summary of how parasites are contagious to people and some really gross pictures of what a migrating animal parasite can do in your body, go to capcvet.org.

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