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This post is the kernel for the Pet Health Care Advocate book.

We're blessed to have the best veterinary schools, animal hospitals, and veterinary care in the world. But even the best veterinarians can't provide the quality of health care your pet deserves without help from you.

You know your pet better than anyone and your veterinarian needs to know what you know.

Pay attention to your pet's normal daily activities. Get to know their behavior, their likes and dislikes, their appetite, litter box habits, even aspect of their normal life. Keep a journal of what's normal for your pet and when you see. change, make note of it. If you have a question or concern, don't wait to see what happens next, message your veterinary clinic and make an appointment if they think the situation calls for it.

It's sometimes hard to notice the little indicators of poor health or even injury, especially in cats. To make sure your pet gets the attention they deserve, a regular wellness exam should be scheduled. That means taking your pet to see the vet even when it seems perfectly healthy. Those wellness exams may be the only chance for early detection of illness or injury.

Your pet depends upon you and so does your veterinarian. Become an active participant in the health care team. Become your pet's health care advocate. That's what we at Happy Cats Wellness call a Cat Champion.

Cats are expert at hiding their illnesses and injuries. And many become stressed out with everything about a visit to the veterinarian, even getting a cat into the carrier before leaving home can be stressful--for the cat and for you. All this makes it easy for us to think, "My cat seems fine. Why go through all that?" This is exactly why many cat parents postpone the wellness exam. And it's why illnesses are often undetected until they become serious, even life-threatening.

Beignet and Sagi ready for a visit to Morrisville Cat Hospital

Don't skip the wellness exam. It's the only way to find medical issues in time for the most effective treatment. It also serves to reduce unnecessary suffering.

In the list below you will find everything a Cat Champion needs to know about reducing anxiety--for the pet and the parent. The first 3 items are types of practices you should know about and the 4th item includes proven methods that you can use to improve the experience for everyone:

1. Fear Free Certifications (for all pets--not just cats)

Founded by “America’s Veterinarian,” Dr. Marty Becker, and developed by hundreds

of experts in behavior, medicine, and handling, Fear Free has become one of the

single most transformative initiatives in the history of companion animal practice.

Their programs and courses provide veterinary professionals, pet professionals,

animal welfare communities, and pet owners with the knowledge and tools to look

after both a pet’s physical and emotional wellbeing.

Find a Fear Free Certified® Veterinarian by clicking the link below:

2. Mobile Veterinarian (all pets)

Would you rather avoid the trip to the veterinarian altogether? Then let the

veterinarian come to you. Mobile veterinary practices bring veterinary medical care

into your home in the environment that is most familiar to your pet.

Mobile veterinarians provide common services like wellness exams, vaccinations,

and collect samples for laboratory analysis--as needed--as well as most other

procedures in routine care.

A Google search of "mobile veterinarians near me" will return a list of veterinarians

in most areas.

3. Cat Friendly Practice (exclusively cats)

Established by the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) and the

International Society for Feline Medicine (ISFM), the Cat Friendly Practice® program

is a global initiative designed to elevate care for cats by reducing the stress for the

cat, caregiver, and also the entire veterinary team.

In a Cat Friendly Practice you will find an environment that has been designed

especially for cats, and a staff that has been trained in methods to reduce stress in


Find a Cat Friendly Practice® near you!

The American Association of Feline Practitioners is a leader and driving force in

feline medicine. Their members have access to a wealth of resources and

continuing education to further develop their knowledge and expertise in the field

including the Cat Friendly Practice® program.

4. Making the Vet Visit Less Stressful

A set of tips and guidelines to reduce anxiety and keep you and your cat calm when

visiting the veterinarian.

Micro-chipping your pet will improve the greatly improve the odds of having a lost pet returned. The following is a true account from the people who found a lost cat wandering along a busy highway and then contacted Cathryn for advice:

“We found this sweet, gray cat wandering along the highway and weren’t sure what to do, but we decided we couldn’t leave him there. He’s super friendly and let us hold him in the car coming home. He purrs and follows us around the garage. We’re sure he’s a lost pet. Any suggestions for next steps?”

Cathryn explained that when a found animal is taken to a shelter or veterinary clinic, one of the first things they do is scan the animal for a microchip. If they find a one, and if the microchip has current contact information, they can quickly find the animal's owner.

When she heard from the rescuers again, they had good news:

We were able to get him to our vet this evening to check the chip. The cats name is Sebastian, a neutered male. He was thought to be stolen as a kitten from his home in Creedmore back in February and the little girl in the family was devastated. He's going to stay at our vet’s office until Monday when his people are going to come get him. Happy Ending!

According the micro-chipping FAQ page on the American Veterinary Medicine Association’s website, a study of more than 7,700 stray animals at animal shelters showed that dogs with micro-chips were returned to their owners almost 2 1/2 times more often than those without chips.

For cats the number is even more dramatic. Micro-chipped cats were returned to their homes almost 20 times more often than un-chipped animals. The reason for animals having chips not being return home was usually due to incorrect information on the chip—the owners had not updated the info.

You can read all about the importance of chips on the AVMA FAQ page here.

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