Cat owners: do you take your cats to the vet, even if they’re indoor cats?
This is going to sound ridiculous, but I only recently realized not everyone does this. OK, that’s the wrong way to put it — more like I only recently understood this is not a common thing.
This understanding came from a conversation with a couple of friends. They have an indoor cat (who goes outside occasionally) and mentioned taking him to be neutered. During the appointment, the vet asked about his shots. My friends mentioned they didn’t plan to do this annually.
It surprised me. Which is weird because the more I think about it, the more I realize that among people I know, we are the weird ones when it comes to our cats getting their shots.
For as long as I have had cats, taking them to the vet has been an annual-ish occurrence. The appointments have not always been exactly on time, but once a year, they find their way to an exam room.
Here are some of the reasons why we do this (even though it’s not cheap).
What it’s like taking our indoor cats to the vet
Once a year, we take each cat to the vet for an annual checkup. Some years, this just involves a physical exam; other years, it includes shots. Both cats go on different weekends.
And both cats hate it so, so much.
Lyla, our tortoiseshell girl, is the worst and, usually, the first. Getting her into the carrier is a brutal experience and she meows the entire way to the vet. Once she’s there, she’ll hide under a chair until she has to come out for her exam. And then she mostly just freezes, clearly stressed out. That said, she doesn’t try to bite or scratch, which is nice, I guess?
Nala, on the other hand, can be fooled into the crate but once zipped in, she lets her displeasure be known. She doesn’t meow as much as Lyla, but then again, she doesn’t meow as much usually so the fact that she meows at all is sad. She also liked to hide and tries to escape once the exam begins. Nala is more likely to bite or scratch during an exam (although so far, she hasn’t done that).
The entire experience is traumatic for everyone involved.
How much does it cost to take our indoor cats to the vet?
We took the girls in for their preventative exams over a couple weeks in January and February. Each exam cost $135.70 so $271.40 for both.
The appointments included a physical exam and a parasite screening. Nala was due for vaccinations this year (Lyla is next year) but that cost is included in the $135.70.
Why we take our indoor cats to the vet regularly
You might be wondering: if it’s so awful, why do you do it?
I have six main reasons.
Because cats hide their pain
This article does a great job of explaining why this happens; essentially, it’s thought to be an evolutionary holdover from a time when cats lived in the wild. Showing signs of illness or injury would put a target on their back for predators, making them appear vulnerable and putting them in danger.
It’s not always obvious when a cat is in pain — which means it’s even less obvious when they need help. Taking our indoor cats to the vet regularly helps give us a more complete understanding of their health — including things they might be hiding.
This leads to my second point…
Because it create opportunities for preventative care
By taking our indoor cats to the vet regularly, we are able to act in ways that will prevent illness for our cats down the line. This includes everything from ensuring they are up to date on their shots (including their rabies booster) to advice on how to keep their teeth healthy.
As is the case with humans, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I’ll always take precaution before hand as opposed to having to deal with a crisis later.
Because one of our cats thinks she is Houdini sometimes
While Lyla is quite content to be an indoor cat, Nala likes the idea of roaming where she pleases. This means any time our door is open, she’s ready to run out.
She doesn’t go far and she doesn’t get to be outside unless she is on a leash with one of us (yes, we are those people who take their cat out on a leash). This factor makes it even more important to me that the cats have their regular checkups. Even if the time outside is limited, knowing they are fully vaccinated makes me feel better about it.
Because it helps us plan financially
This is especially important as our cats get older. Annual checkups provide insight into how our cats are doing now — and what sort of things we might soon be dealing with.
For example, a couple years ago, we learned Lyla, our nine-year-old (how is she nine already?!) has the beginning stages of tooth resorption. This will eventually require extraction of some teeth — something that is very expensive. She’s still doing great with eating, so it’s not an emergency at this point, but eventually, those teeth will need to come out.
Knowing about it early means we can plan for that. Another benefit of bringing our indoor cats to the vet regularly.
Because we learn a lot from our vet
The best part about taking our indoor cats to the vet, in my opinion, is the opportunity it provides for us to ask questions. Cats can’t talk, so it’s not always easy to know if there’s something we should be doing differently.
From recommending a dental treat for our cats to giving tips on how to prevent hairballs, our vets have given us great advice over the years that have made life better for all of us.
Because our indoor cats are family
This is most important reason for us by far.
While I am not one of those people who likens my cats to my children (although hey, no shame to those who do! Cats are awesome!), we don’t think of our cats as a thing we own. They are living creatures entrusted in our care and we try our best to treat them that way.
This means making sure they have access to food and water, a shelter and yeah, access to medical care.
For us, taking our indoor cats to the vet is important. Getting them to the appointments is traumatizing and paying for them is not fun (thank heavens for sinking funds!) but it’s worth it to know they are healthy.
Do you have indoor cats? Do you take them to the vet?