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Why Don’t More Cat Owners Invest In Preventative Healthcare?

Preventative healthcare for cats encompasses many different elements, all of which can help to provide numerous benefits for both cats and owners.

Preventative healthcare makes both logical sense and financial sense; it is always cheaper to spend a little bit of money at the outset to stop a problem before it develops than it is to treat it later on.

Of course, money isn’t the only element involved in preventative healthcare for cats either, and not every problem can be solved or prevented with money. There is also the time factor, as well as difficulty, stress, and potential inconvenience, which can all serve as a barrier in many cases too.

For instance, when it comes to preventing dental disease in cats, the cost of a cat-safe toothpaste and brush, both of which will last for many months, is likely to cost well under £10. Caring for your cat’s teeth can help to avoid pain, discomfort, and the need for a large-scale anaesthetised veterinary treatment later in life that might cost well north of a thousand pounds. 

Cash, therefore, isn’t likely to be the barrier here; but other elements might well be. For instance, most cats aren’t going to be very cooperative about having their teeth brushed, for starters! Getting a kitten used to this, as well as learning how to do this incredibly carefully in order to ensure you don’t harm their very fragile jaw, can be stressful for both cat and owner, take time, and result in being bitten or scratched if you’re not careful too.

The same is true for many preventable common feline health conditions, and understanding why many cat owners don’t provide various different types of preventative healthcare is the key to increasing the number that do.

With this in mind, the PDSA asked cat owners in the UK that don’t provide certain types of preventative healthcare for their cats exactly why this was in each case, and the answers might surprise you. This information was published in their 2019 PAWS survey, which can be downloaded here.

Read on to find out why more cat owners in the UK don’t invest in the most important types of preventative healthcare for cats.

Why don’t some cat owners have their cats neutered?

Neutering helps to prevent unwanted litters, and also helps to stop a large number of preventable health problems, as well as reducing roaming behaviour and cat fights.

The good news is that 92% of the UK’s cat owners have their cats neutered as standard. So, what about the other 8%?

  • 18% say it is because their cats don’t go outside. However, they might still escape or get lost, and also, are more at risk for certain health problems as a result of not being neutered.
  • 14% say they just haven’t thought about it, which is the height of irresponsibility.
  • 12% just haven’t gotten around to it yet, which once more, is highly irresponsible.

Why don’t some cat owners vaccinate their cats?

Vaccinations can help to save your pet’s life. They can also help to save them a lot of unnecessary suffering, and save you a lot of avoidable vet’s fees! 

  • 61% of kittens and 59% of adult cats are vaccinated, which means that well over a third are not. Why not? According to their owners:
  • 21% of cat owners who don’t have their cats vaccinated say that it is too expensive. The average cost of a full course of cat vaccinations in the UK is only around £50-£60 per year; and if you cannot afford this, can you really afford a cat at all?
  • 19% of cat owners who don’t have their pets vaccinated say they don’t need to as their cats don’t go out. 
  • 18% of cat owners who don’t neuter simply say that they don’t think it’s necessary.

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Why don’t all cat owners worm their cats?

  • 76% of the UK’s cats are up to date with their worming protocols; which means that almost a quarter are left vulnerable to contracting worms. Why?
  • 38% of cat owners who don’t worm their cats don’t think it is necessary. However, just because you can’t see worms doesn’t mean your cat doesn’t have any – and so is placing you, and your family, at risk.
  • 23% of cat owners whose cats aren’t protected against worms have once more just not thought about it. This might be due to a lack of awareness of the necessity to worm cats and so, a lack of research prior to taking ownership of a cat.
  • 13% have just not gotten around to worming their cats, again risking both their cat’s health and their own.

Why are some cats left untreated for fleas?

You would think that flea treating cats is something all cat owners would be keen to keep on top of, but because flea infestations aren’t always evident and cat fleas don’t tend to bite people, this is not the case!

  • 82% of the UK’s cats are appropriately flea treated, leaving almost one in five that is not. What do their owners say?
  • 52% say that it is not necessary, usually due to a mistaken belief that their cat doesn’t have fleas.
  • 19% stated other unspecified reasons.
  • 10% have once more not got around to it yet!

Why aren’t all cats registered with a vet?

Finally, you might fairly assume that more or less all cats have a vet, even if their owners are lax about their general preventative healthcare. However, 16% of the UK’s cats – or 1.7 million cats with homes – are not. The reasons their owners gave for this are:

  • 33% said that it’s not necessary because in an emergency you could just turn up at any clinic. This is not the case. Whilst vets will always try to help in an emergency, they might already be dealing with an emergency when you turn up unannounced, and unable to care for both animals at once. Additionally, a lack of prior information on record for your pet will delay them getting the care they need.
  • 22% stated that they don’t need to register because the pet is fine; however, this shows a clear disregard for the importance of preventative healthcare in general, not least the need for annual health checks.
  • 11% said that it is too expensive! However, registering with a vet is absolutely free, and can even give you access to some free services, like certain types of nurse clinics. Coupled with this, unregistered pet owners are often charged more for out of hours and emergency care than registered pet owners.

If veterinary care is too expensive for you full stop and you could not afford to take your cat to the vet even if they really needed to go, then the privileges of cat ownership itself are out of your financial grasp, and simply owning a cat at all is not a responsible decision to make at this stage of your life.


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