Author Topic: Annual vet exam for a cat - waste of money?  (Read 4554 times)

ZiziPB

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Annual vet exam for a cat - waste of money?
« on: September 07, 2016, 08:24:10 AM »
In the past I always brought my female cat to the vet for an annual visit that included vaccinations and an exam.  I am considering getting her vaccinated at a local Petco store instead and skipping the vet exam this year.  She's a bit overweight but otherwise appears healthy.  Any thoughts?

Sibley

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Re: Annual vet exam for a cat - waste of money?
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2016, 08:50:44 AM »
Depends. Do you like the cat?

A good vet isn't just vaccinating the cat. They're also checking for problems. Are you qualified to know if she has an abscessed tooth? Let you know that the minor behavior thing you mentioned of hand has a cause, and suggest a way to solve it? As the cat ages, problems are more likely. Every time I take my 17 year old cat in, we're discussing the latest changes and problems, they're helping me problem solve to keep her comfortable as she ages and problems pop up or get worse.

Also, cats are notorious for hiding pain or other problems. You literally may not know if they're sick or injured - something that has happened to me several times over the past 10 years.

Cats and dogs age much more quickly than humans do. A year for a cat is something like 2-5 years for a human, depending on their age.

Capsu78

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Re: Annual vet exam for a cat - waste of money?
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2016, 09:08:11 AM »
I don't think Petco is an awful option but agree with Sibley, especially since our cats have limited outdoor privaleges.   I also agree cats hide pain often by sulking off and trying to sleep it off.  My big cat simply got out of his routine causing me to finally find him in the basement...I had no idea he had a high fever and I should have noticed just by feeling his ears.


chasesfish

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Re: Annual vet exam for a cat - waste of money?
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2016, 10:42:15 AM »
How old is the cat, does it go outside, and does it ever socialize with others?

If it isn't around other animals, you're okay until 8-10 yrs old.  Then annual blood work and an occasional dental is needed (and humane). 

That's what we do and the spouse is a vet

ZiziPB

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Re: Annual vet exam for a cat - waste of money?
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2016, 10:51:21 AM »
The cat is between 7-9 years old (she was a rescue so no exact info but that is what the vet assessed).  Adopted 6 years ago and has been in good health since then.  She goes outside for brief periods of time daily.  Up until now I took her in for the annual exam and vaccinations every year but it's expensive and a hassle, and she never had any issues other than the vet giving me a hard time about the cat being a bit overweight.  Petco would give her a rabies and feline leukemia shot, just like the vet does.

ETA: she doesn't hunt (she came from the shelter with broken teeth and I regularly trim her claws) so she's not likely to pick up something nasty from eating her prey.   
« Last Edit: September 07, 2016, 10:55:59 AM by ZiziPB »

Catbert

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Re: Annual vet exam for a cat - waste of money?
« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2016, 11:16:22 AM »
I'm not great about taking cats in every 12 months for a check up.  Her last check up was ~18 months since the previous one.  To make a long story short, she was diagnosed with probable gastrointestinal lymphoma.  It was caught early (glad I didn't wait another year) and she seems to be doing well on prednisone.  While it's not a cure it will extend her life and quality of life.

N=1 so YMMV.

BTDretire

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Re: Annual vet exam for a cat - waste of money?
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2016, 12:09:20 PM »
We have an outdoor cat, about 9 years old. Had it to the vet once.
After she had kittens. I'd call it a PITA plus $400.
Nice cat, doesn't do anything you tell it to do.

chasesfish

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Re: Annual vet exam for a cat - waste of money?
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2016, 12:42:51 PM »
The cat is between 7-9 years old (she was a rescue so no exact info but that is what the vet assessed).  Adopted 6 years ago and has been in good health since then.  She goes outside for brief periods of time daily.  Up until now I took her in for the annual exam and vaccinations every year but it's expensive and a hassle, and she never had any issues other than the vet giving me a hard time about the cat being a bit overweight.  Petco would give her a rabies and feline leukemia shot, just like the vet does.

ETA: she doesn't hunt (she came from the shelter with broken teeth and I regularly trim her claws) so she's not likely to pick up something nasty from eating her prey.

You're fine to stretch it to 18-24 months and keep the cat indoors

ZiziPB

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Re: Annual vet exam for a cat - waste of money?
« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2016, 02:13:43 PM »
Thanks everyone for their input.  I think I will skip the checkup this year and make sure to bring her in next year.

TrMama

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Re: Annual vet exam for a cat - waste of money?
« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2016, 03:45:22 PM »
Depends. When you take your pet for a checkup, you're basically paying for information from the vet about the pet's health. If you're not going to act on the information (by treating whatever problems might be found), then yes, it's a bit of a waste of money.

If you do want to treat any problems right away, then you should take it for regular checkups.

Spork

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Re: Annual vet exam for a cat - waste of money?
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2016, 04:19:10 PM »
I think either course of action is fine, depending on your stance:

* The cat is nice and all.  The cat serves a purpose.  It's keeping vermin out of my house/barn/yard.  I like the cat.  But if it dies, I'll get another.  Cats are free.  <--- I know a lot of people that feel that way.  There's nothing wrong with that.  If you feel that way, get it vaccinated for public health, give it food, scratch it's head.  Life is good.

* I want THAT CAT.  It is a little bit like a child to me.  I love that cat.  If it dies, I will mourn deeply.  <---  If you feel that way, pay for the vet.  The vet will do a few more tests... He/she will have more data points.  Some day if/when your cat get sick, there will be a line of data going back where you can see little changes and get an idea of how to treat it.

--

As an aside, I've read a few scathing articles about the various veterinary "fast food" stops.  I don't know how much truth there is in them, but ... it didn't make me want to take my animals there.  I think if I were just taking the first option, I might watch for the free/low cost vaccination clinics and just go there.

MoonLiteNite

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Re: Annual vet exam for a cat - waste of money?
« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2016, 05:57:19 AM »
Depends. Do you like the cat?

About sums it up hahaha

A friend of mine just spent over 10k on Chemo for her dog. Will extend his life by 3-6 months.... I personally view that as the worlds biggest waste. But i know some people love their pets

Spork

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Re: Annual vet exam for a cat - waste of money?
« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2016, 07:09:16 AM »
Depends. Do you like the cat?

About sums it up hahaha

A friend of mine just spent over 10k on Chemo for her dog. Will extend his life by 3-6 months.... I personally view that as the worlds biggest waste. But i know some people love their pets

I had a friend do this too.  He regrets it deeply -- not because it cost a lot of money, but because it gave his dog a very, very miserable 6 months of life.

MandyM

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Re: Annual vet exam for a cat - waste of money?
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2016, 08:59:36 AM »
Depends. Do you like the cat?

About sums it up hahaha

A friend of mine just spent over 10k on Chemo for her dog. Will extend his life by 3-6 months.... I personally view that as the worlds biggest waste. But i know some people love their pets

I had a friend do this too.  He regrets it deeply -- not because it cost a lot of money, but because it gave his dog a very, very miserable 6 months of life.

I also know someone that did chemo for their pet and has said she wouldn't do it again.

To add on about veterinary "fast food" stops (as Spork termed it), I have heard terrible stories about the Banfield clinic at my local Petsmart. I have no idea if it is a widespread issue or just this location (or just people that don't know what they are talking about), but many adopters of the rescue I volunteer with have had bad experiences. The most recent one took her cat in for something they thought was minor. Banfield wanted to run a bunch of tests that would have cost $300+. When the adopter said she couldn't afford that, they advised her to put the animal down since she couldn't provide care. Tragically, she did, trusting these medical professionals. Maybe it was called for, maybe not, we will never know.

My point being - if you haven't developed a high level of trust with your vet (or even if you have in some cases), get a second opinion before you do anything beyond routine care.

Spork

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Re: Annual vet exam for a cat - waste of money?
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2016, 09:46:44 AM »
Depends. Do you like the cat?

About sums it up hahaha

A friend of mine just spent over 10k on Chemo for her dog. Will extend his life by 3-6 months.... I personally view that as the worlds biggest waste. But i know some people love their pets

I had a friend do this too.  He regrets it deeply -- not because it cost a lot of money, but because it gave his dog a very, very miserable 6 months of life.

I also know someone that did chemo for their pet and has said she wouldn't do it again.

To add on about veterinary "fast food" stops (as Spork termed it), I have heard terrible stories about the Banfield clinic at my local Petsmart. I have no idea if it is a widespread issue or just this location (or just people that don't know what they are talking about), but many adopters of the rescue I volunteer with have had bad experiences. The most recent one took her cat in for something they thought was minor. Banfield wanted to run a bunch of tests that would have cost $300+. When the adopter said she couldn't afford that, they advised her to put the animal down since she couldn't provide care. Tragically, she did, trusting these medical professionals. Maybe it was called for, maybe not, we will never know.

My point being - if you haven't developed a high level of trust with your vet (or even if you have in some cases), get a second opinion before you do anything beyond routine care.

Banfield was specifically what I have read expose's on.  If I recall, they were written by vets that left due to their own conscious.  I suspect the same is true for things like dentistry chains and the like.


edit: grammar
« Last Edit: September 08, 2016, 10:25:19 AM by Spork »

LeRainDrop

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Re: Annual vet exam for a cat - waste of money?
« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2016, 10:22:45 AM »
Just another data point for you:  I have two cats, both of whom are close to 8 years old.  I bring them into the vet's office for their annual exams and vaccinations like clockwork.  I don't consider the cost to be expensive, but pretty minimal, if you prorate it out to a per-month cost.  I would prefer to catch and address problems early rather than wait and discover I let my pet suffer for the sake of saving $100-200.

little_brown_dog

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Re: Annual vet exam for a cat - waste of money?
« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2016, 11:17:54 AM »
We are very pro-vet here but honestly, I have to wonder about doing wellness exams for youngish, healthy indoor cats every single year.  My vet does a yearly wellness, and it's $100 bucks just for a physical exam (no blood or fecal tests whatsoever). If you feel like your cat is very healthy, you can always do your own physical exam at home and then just ask to bring the cat in for a vet tech/vaccine appointment (most vet offices will do this, but you have to be specific and say you only want the vaccines or else you will get the whole package).

Of course a home exam is probably not as good as an expert one because you are not trained or as experienced, but you can do a pretty good job yourself if you follow instructions and know what to look for. It's not like you have to either go to the vet or just let your animal go without a checkup completely. People have been performing check ups on their own animals since the dawn of time. If you notice anything odd, you can then go to the vet for a more thorough review. If the cat gets sick during the year, definitely go to the vet. 

The things vets/vet techs/farmers look for in animals to determine health (standard physical exam):

Eyes - clear, bright, no clouding, redness, inflammation, crusting, or running
Nose/breath sounds - smooth steady breathing, no wheezing, snorting, or coughing sounds
Mouth/teeth - normal flesh/gum color, no bleeding or obvious swelling, teeth may be stained yellow but no abscesses/rot/blackening
Body/coat - smooth, clean, little or no dandruff/flaking, no unusual itching or hair loss, normal weight, slender but not bony (run hands over spine and ribs)
Feet and nails - no cuts or abraisons, smooth paw pads, claws appear to retract and flex normally
Tummy and groin - smooth squishy tummy, soft to the touch, no tender spots/hard lumps/tight bloating
Bum - Normal flesh color for the animal, no swelling, protrusions, redness, or inflammation

Combine good bodily condition with normal appetite/elimination/general behavior, and it is highly likely you have a very healthy animal on your hands who does not need professional evaluation. Of course it is possible that there is something really subtle that only a vet can pick up on, but only you know if you prefer to pay for peace of mind even if it is unlikely that something is wrong.

We go to the vet religiously with our animals, and yet we still lost a young cat unexpectedly to a cardiac event. He was rescued and given a clean bill of health by vets just half a year prior. Obviously he had some underlying cardiac condition or something, but even vets can only tell so much with routine exams and they won't order invasive and expensive tests unless the routine exam shows problems. Weirdly, this incident made me LESS anxious about DIY check ups for my other cat. We still bring him in to the vet every other year for an exam, but in between we take on that responsibility ourselves.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2016, 11:20:31 AM by little_brown_dog »

ZiziPB

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Re: Annual vet exam for a cat - waste of money?
« Reply #17 on: September 08, 2016, 11:31:22 AM »
little_brown_dog, very helpful post!  Thank you.

And just for clarity sake, I am not proposing to do away with the vet completely.  I'm thinking about reducing the annual wellness visits to bi-annual.  And, obviously, I would bring her to the vet immediately in case of any issues or illness.  My vet only does a physical exam, no blood tests.

Aimza

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Re: Annual vet exam for a cat - waste of money?
« Reply #18 on: September 19, 2016, 12:08:51 PM »
Eh, my cats go to the vet when I notice an issue. They've all hardly been to the vet and have lived to be 14-21. I have never done annual check ups or kept up with vaccines after initial kitten ones.

I did just update my current cats' vaccines at the Petco Vetco clinic (much cheaper than at the vet and great service) but only because they may escape out the door. They are lurkers at the back door so I figured I should get them vaccinated. I will not be making it an annual thing though.

TheAnonOne

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Re: Annual vet exam for a cat - waste of money?
« Reply #19 on: September 19, 2016, 12:46:30 PM »
We love our cats very much. (2 Ragdolls, indoor only)

We don't ever bring them to the vet. If you think about it, when you treat an animal it hardly understands what is going on. You are basically doing it for you, not the animal. I have heard too many stories about people doing XYZ at a pets end-of-life and it just ends up seeming sad and unfortunate instead of triumphant and successful.

They are both around 5 years old and appear to be healthy and we consider them part of the family. If one of them got cancer, or some other hard-to-treat condition. It would be a very sad time for us, but we would let nature run it's course.

startingsmall

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Re: Annual vet exam for a cat - waste of money?
« Reply #20 on: September 19, 2016, 04:33:47 PM »
Depends. Do you like the cat?

About sums it up hahaha

A friend of mine just spent over 10k on Chemo for her dog. Will extend his life by 3-6 months.... I personally view that as the worlds biggest waste. But i know some people love their pets

I had a friend do this too.  He regrets it deeply -- not because it cost a lot of money, but because it gave his dog a very, very miserable 6 months of life.

I also know someone that did chemo for their pet and has said she wouldn't do it again.

To add on about veterinary "fast food" stops (as Spork termed it), I have heard terrible stories about the Banfield clinic at my local Petsmart. I have no idea if it is a widespread issue or just this location (or just people that don't know what they are talking about), but many adopters of the rescue I volunteer with have had bad experiences. The most recent one took her cat in for something they thought was minor. Banfield wanted to run a bunch of tests that would have cost $300+. When the adopter said she couldn't afford that, they advised her to put the animal down since she couldn't provide care. Tragically, she did, trusting these medical professionals. Maybe it was called for, maybe not, we will never know.

My point being - if you haven't developed a high level of trust with your vet (or even if you have in some cases), get a second opinion before you do anything beyond routine care.

Banfield was specifically what I have read expose's on.  If I recall, they were written by vets that left due to their own conscious.  I suspect the same is true for things like dentistry chains and the like.


edit: grammar

I'm a veterinarian who works for Banfield. Yes, Banfield vets are under considerable pressure to "make production." Our prices tend to be above-average (at least in my area) and we nickel-and-dime people on everything with a ton of extra fees. My mother-in-law, who lives locally, takes her pets to another vet clinic at my recommendation. If my pets became seriously ill and needed expensive treatment, I would take them to a friend of mine - costs would be lower, even though I'd be giving up my employee discount.

That said, there are good vets at Banfield. And there are good and bad hospitals.... I recently transferred to a different hospital and my new practice manager places a LOT less financial pressure on us on an everyday basis than my previous manager.

 I DO feel that Banfield offers above-average medicine, so it's a safe bet if you're new to town, traveling, etc. (For example, there are clinics in my area that still skip essentials like IV catheters & intubation in surgery patients!) It's not going to be the best in any given town, but it's also unlikely to be the worst.

Just my $0.02.

startingsmall

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Re: Annual vet exam for a cat - waste of money?
« Reply #21 on: September 19, 2016, 04:40:23 PM »
Also... make sure you aren't overvaccinating. I've seen people spend more at Petco / Tractor Supply clinics than they would at a real vet, because their pet gets extra vaccines.

An indoor adult cat who has had its kitten series & 1-year boosters should get FVRCP ("feline distemper") vaccine every 3 years and rabies according to local law (typically every 3 years). Cats who go outdoors should also receive Feline Leukemia vaccine every year.

Many young cats have completely normal physical exams but not all. It's certainly something that you can possibly get away with skipping, but realize that you may miss something until it's too late. Yes, the chances are low, but it is a risk.