Veterinary Checks and the Adult CatPosted 1/1/2015 Cats by nature are often self-sufficient, independent and yes, even aloof at times. They groom themselves. They tend to regulate their eating. They don’t need to be shown the door to accommodate their toilet habits.
That independent streak may work against your cat when it comes to her health care. Some cat owners may be inclined to think that if something’s bothering the cat, she’ll let them know.
American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) surveys show that nearly 1 in 10 cat owners never take their pet to the veterinarian, and 27 percent only do so when the owner believes their cat is sick. The AVMA says that equates to 20 million pet cats that don’t see a veterinarian unless they’re ill.
Like people, however, cats need regular check-ups to make sure they’re healthy and stay that way. Starting with that first check-up, your veterinarian can get a baseline look at your cat’s health and note any alarming changes as your cat grows and matures. At each well-visit, which can last between 15 and 30 minutes, you can expect a fairly regular routine from your veterinarian.
- Some poking and prodding. Your veterinarian will feel your cat’s body from nose to tail, noting any bumps or lumps, feeling its muscles and inspecting its coat. She’ll check inside its ears, looking for signs of infection or external parasites such as fleas, ticks, ear mites or ringworm. The examination will also help the veterinarian note whether your cat is overweight or obese.
- A closer inspection on the front end. Your veterinarian will inspect the inside of your cat’s mouth. Dental problems can portend broader health issues such as infections or eating disorders. At look at your cat’s oral health can reveal tumors, loose teeth, or infected gums.
- A closer inspection on the back end. Yes, expect your vet to take your cat’s temperature, rectally. This simple act can immediately alert to a potential underlying health issues that might otherwise be masked. In some cases, your veterinarian may want to do a urine test as well, which can reveal problems with kidney performance and bladder health. Finally, she might also want a stool sample in order to check for internal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms or microbes such as Giardia or Coccidia.
- A good listening to. Expect your veterinarian to pull out the stethoscope and listen to your cat’s heart and lungs, an exam that can reveal problems with your cat’s heartbeat or respiratory issues. Your vet will want to listen to you, too: What questions do you have? Have you observed any new behaviors in your cat that have puzzled you? Has her diet or eating habits changed? What kind of exercise does she get?
Making it a habit can also make it less of an ordeal, too. If you only visit the veterinarian when your cat is sick, the visit itself can be stressful. A little preparation for the vet visit can help make it less stressful for your cat, you and the rest of the animals you encounter. For example, does your cat only see the inside of the car when it’s time to go to the veterinary clinic? Maybe the occasional random car ride can help break the association between the car and the poking and prodding.
Leaving the cat carrier out for your cat to use as an alternative napping spot can make it easier to box her up when it’s time to leave the house. Keeping familiar blankets or towels available, with the scents of home, can also be great stress relievers.
And preparation doesn’t end there. Think about questions you might have for your veterinarian before your scheduled visit. You’re the best advocate for your pet’s health, and your job is to enlist your veterinarian as your partner. Make a list of questions ahead of time just like you would with your doctor.
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Tips to Take Away
- Be your cat’s health advocate with regular well-pet visits.
- Consider scheduling cat check-ups when you schedule your own.
- Prepare questions ahead of time.
For Further Reading:
- Five Questions To Ask Your Veterinarian—Pet Health Network
- 5 Tips to Make Vet Visits Less Stressful for Your Cat—Animal Planet