Cats get less veterinary care than dogs. That’s an established fact. A study published in 2008 in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association found that:

  • Cats get significantly less attention and veterinary medical care from their owners than dogs.
  • Dog owners took their pets to a veterinarian more than twice as often as cat owners.
  • Dog owners more often sought vaccinations, physical check-ups and preventive dental care.
  • In households that own both dogs and cats, more than 30% of cats don’t see a veterinarian annually, compared with only 13 percent of the dogs.
  • Dogs are viewed as more affectionate than cats and more fun to be around
  • Many owners believe that dogs need more regular veterinary care because they spend more time outdoors.
  • Some cat owners hold the misconception that cats “don’t get sick and can take care of themselves,” the study says.


There are a few other obvious reasons:
  • It’s a hassle for the person to take the cat to the vet.
  • It upsets the cat to go to the vet.
  • Many cat guardians have multiple cats, which can make regular veterinary care cost-prohibitive.
  • People don’t understand why an apparently healthy cat needs an annual exam by a vet. (If you’re one of them, please read this article on annual exams for cats!)

To help rectify this problem–at least, the part about vet visits being too stressful for the cat–The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) and the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) have just released a publication, Feline Friendly Handling Guidelines, which is also endorsed by the American Animal Hospital Association. These comprehensive guidelines are not only for cat guardians, but also for veterinary technicians, veterinary assistants, and veterinarians. Their aim is to make veterinary visits less traumatic and stressful for the cat as well as all the humans involved. There is some very good information on cat socialization and cat behavior, as well as some great photographs demonstrating feline body language.

Click here to download the complete PDF or click here to open it directly.

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