Why preventative healthcare?
Clearly, with a substantially lower number of veterinary visits than dogs, cats represent a considerable opportunity to veterinary practice, as well as presenting a significant unmet health need. Experience with our Cat Friendly Clinic programme has demonstrated that increased knowledge and understanding of cats pays real dividends in the clinic, as these quotations from some of those involved illustrate.
‘There is greater readiness to take part in proactive and preventive healthcare. This probably stems from our own changed approach – we, in turn, are more proactive in promoting it to the clients.’
‘Cats are much calmer – they chill out, settle and life is much easier.’
‘We talk with much greater confidence, our understanding of cat needs is greater, clients pick up on our greater interest and knowledge. We know that our regular cat clients talk to their friends and recommend us as a practice that is good with cats.’
Regular life-long preventive healthcare should be the goal for every veterinary patient. A combination of primary, secondary and tertiary preventive measures are important in a comprehensive healthcare programme, although secondary and tertiary measures become more critical as the cat ages and as diseases become more prevalent. Both owners and the veterinary team need to be aware of the importance of the healthcare programme and, especially as cats often do not show signs of disease. Cats are ‘masters of disguise‘, masking signs of disease very effectively – regular healthcare examinations are thus all the more important for this species.
The three aspects of preventive healthcare
- Primary prevention – avoiding development of disease
For example, vaccination and routine parasite prophylaxis
- Secondary prevention – early detection of disease
For example, prevention of progression of disease
- Tertiary prevention – reducing the impact of disease
For example, managing complications of established disease