When was the last time you took your cat to the vet?

"Ten million more cats are owned in the United States than dogs, yet for every five dogs that go to a vet, one cat goes," said Cindy Roth, founder of All About Cats Rescue in Freeport. "People think cats don't need to go to the vet regularly because they hide their illnesses easily. They mask their illnesses until it's too late."

Some cat owners believe their pets do not need yearly check-ups because of the stereotype that cats are independent and self-sufficient, yet, without regular veterinary care, cats can fall victim to a host of diseases and illnesses, Roth explained. For this reason, she said, cats should be seen by a vet once a year.

Another reason owners may be reluctant to bring their cats to the vet is that getting them into a carrier and transporting them can be difficult. Roth has some tips to make vet visits less stressful.

"Put a cover, such as a blanket or towel, over the carrier, so your cat feels safer. For whatever reason, when cats are in the dark, it calms them down," Roth said. "If you have a vet visit scheduled, put treats in the carrier for a couple of days leading up to the visit, so that the cat gets used to it and doesn't look at the carrier as a horrible thing."

All About Cats Rescue is one of three shelters across the country receiving pet food donations from pet care company Royal Canin as part of the company's "Curiosity Saved the Cat" campaign, which aims to raise awareness about National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day on Aug. 22. Royal Canin says that for every pet owner's pledge to take their cat to the vet this year, the company will donate a bowl of food to its chosen animal shelters, which include All About Cats Rescue. Those interested can visit royalcanin.com/Cat2VetDay and take the pledge with one click.

The most effective way to make an impact and get more owners to bring their cats to the vet is to change the way we look at and value cats, Roth said. "Cats can suffer for years before the owners will realize it. Little things like just going to the vet can really change your cat's life."