How conscientious are UK cat owners about preventative health care for their cats?

How conscientious are UK cat owners about preventative health care for their cats?

A cat can seem like quite an easy and low maintenance pet to keep compared to a dog, or even a caged pet like a rabbit that needs to be cleaned out and tended to regularly. Coupled with this, many cats ultimately find their own owners, moving in with people they like the look of or neatly rehoming themselves if lost or abandoned, which means that some cat owners more or less fall into cat ownership rather than choosing it.

However, whilst cats are independent, hardy and much more self-sufficient than most domesticated pets, when you call a cat your own – however you came by them – you have a responsibility to take care of them and provide for all of their needs, for the duration of their lives.

Responsible cat ownership means much more than simply providing food and taking your cat to they vet if they come in very obviously injured. Preventative healthcare is just as important as reactive healthcare, and preventative healthcare is also much cheaper, easier, and humane than having to sort out a health issue further down the line that could have been avoided entirely!

However, even that being the case, all too many cat owners in the UK are lax about their cat’s preventative healthcare; either due to not really knowing what is needed, or starting off with good intentions at the outset but then forgetting or neglecting things later on.

In fact, based on survey data complied from cat owners in the UK by the PDSA in 2019, an alarming percentage of UK cat owners don’t pay any attention to their cat’s preventative healthcare at all.

In this article, we’ll highlight the key areas of preventative healthcare for cats that all responsible cat owners should provide, along with statistics from the PDSA on what proportion of the UK’s cat owners neglect them entirely. Read on to learn more.

Spaying and neutering

Up until around 30 years ago, spaying and neutering cats was considered to be optional rather than simply the done thing. We’ve come a really long way since then in terms of ensuring that the UK cat population is kept under control, unwanted litters are prevented, and the welfare of cats has been improved accordingly.

However, even with that being the case, 8% of UK cat owners haven’t had their cat of breeding age neutered, despite the health implications and of course, high probability of unwanted litters that come with this decision.

Being registered with a veterinary clinic

16% of UK cat owners don’t even have their cat registered with a veterinary clinic! Whilst any vet will try very hard to help a cat in an emergency, being unregistered can delay or compromise treatment as the vet will hold no history or supporting information for the cat in question ahead of time.

Additionally, an unregistered cat is of course not receiving any of the preventative healthcare they need from the vet, nor getting check-ups as part of their routine healthcare.

Initial vaccinations

39% of kitten buyers in the UK don’t have their kittens vaccinated – and so place them at risk of contracting any one of a number of dangerous, painful and unpleasant health conditions that are both contagious and totally preventable.

This is a really disappointing statistic, and also indicates that over a third of UK kitten buyers don’t even start off their lives as cat owners with the knowledge or commitment they should have to being responsible cat owners.

Subsequent booster vaccinations and annual health checks

41% of cats aren’t provided with their appropriate booster vaccinations after their first year of life – which correlates closely with the figure of kitten buyers who never intend to immunise their cats at all.

Missing boosters means placing your cat at risk of contagious and preventable health conditions, and also that your cat won’t get their annual veterinary health check.

Flea treatments

18% of cats in the UK aren’t given preventative treatments for fleas, often because their owners assume that the cat is flea-free. However, unless your cat is flea treated, the chances are they do have fleas and you’re just not aware of it.

Don’t assume that if your cat had fleas, you’d see them or be getting bitten by them; you’re probably wrong.

Worming treatments

24% of cat owners in the UK don’t treat their cats for worms, which means that particularly if your cat is a hunter, the chances are they’re infested with any number of intestinal parasites.

This is not only bad for your cat’s health, but possibly yours too, as most worms that can be hosted by cats can also be hosted by humans.

Microchipping and pet insurance

Finally, not directly related to preventative healthcare for cats but certainly closely related comes the issues of microchipping and pet insurance respectively.

Microchipping can help to ensure that you are located if your cat gets lost or stolen, and that if your cat was found injured or ill and taken to a vet, that you could be found and contacted quickly to make decisions that might save their life.

Pet insurance is of course designed to cover the cost of treating unforeseen injuries and illnesses that you might not otherwise be able to afford; so, what proportion of UK cat owners have their cats microchipped and insured respectively?

71% of cats in the UK are microchipped, which leaves 29% that are not.

Just 37% of the UK’s cats are covered by some level of pet insurance, leaving 63% uninsured entirely.

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