Preventive wellness care plays a critical role in keeping cats and dogs happy and healthy. But, many cat owners—52 percent— skip their cat’s annual veterinary visit because they believe their cats are fine. Even indoor-only cats can be affected by thyroid conditions, heart problems, diabetes, and other potentially deadly diseases (even flea infestations!).
Cats are masters at hiding illness. By the time a cat is showing signs of disease, it’s often too late to effectively treat the condition. While it may be stressful to get your cat into her carrier and bring her to the vet, her life may depend on it. Regular veterinary visits can help to catch early signs of serious diseases so they can be treated before they advance.
Steps of an annual wellness examination
Here’s what you can expect during your cat’s regular wellness veterinary visit:
A thorough physical exam, during which we’ll check every part of your cat for signs of illness. We’ll begin by obtaining your feline companion’s history. We’ll ask about her diet, thirst, exercise and litter box habits, behavior, lifestyle, and general health. We will also discuss any changes you’ve noticed with your cat at home and any concerns you may have. For the physical portion of the exam, we’ll thoroughly examine:
- Attitude—Is your cat depressed? Lethargic? What’s her level of alertness?
- Body condition—Is your cat too heavy or too thin?
- Eyes—Are your cat’s eyes red or cloudy? Are there signs of tear staining (brown streaks on her face) or discharge? Are her eyelids properly shaped?
- Ears—Do her ears have an odor? Are they red? Is there debris present?
- Nose—Is there discharge coming from her nose? Is she having breathing issues?
- Mouth—Is there an odor or evidence of gingivitis (red gums), tartar and plaque buildup, diseased teeth, ulcers, or masses?
- Skin and hair coat—Is her skin oily, dry, or flaky? Does she have missing hair, lumps or bumps, or redness?
- Heart and lungs—Are there abnormal rates and rhythms, crackles, or wheezes?
- Lymph nodes—Are her lymph nodes swollen?
- Abdomen—Doe her bladder, kidneys, liver, spleen, intestines, and stomach feel normal? Are there signs of pain?
Lab work to diagnose any medical conditions may be warranted, depending on your pet’s age, risk factors, or abnormalities on physical exam. Some tests may be able to done in-house at our clinic, but others may require outside laboratories or referral to a specialist. Some diagnostic tests routinely conducted during an annual exam include:
- Complete blood count
- Blood chemistry panels
- Thyroid testing
- Glucose testing
- Geriatric bloodwork
- Fecal testing
- Fine needle aspirate
- Skin or ear cytology
- Blood pressure
Preventive medicine is necessary to keep your pet healthy and prevent disease. During an annual visit, we may provide several services, such as:
- Vaccinations appropriate for lifestyle—Leukemia, feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, panleukopenia, rabies
- Deworming—Roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, whipworms
- Medications for pain, anxiety, infection, or disease
Recommendations for providing optimal care are geared specifically to your pet’s lifestyle and will enable her to live a long and healthy life. We may discuss:
- Dental care—Dental cleaning under anesthesia, tooth brushing at home, treats, chews, water or food additives, dental diets
- Diet and exercise—Obesity prevention, friendly games, stimulating puzzle feeders, interactive toys
- Grooming—Mat prevention, checking for fleas and ticks, cleaning ears
- Heartworm, flea, and tick prevention—Appropriate prevention based on lifestyle
- Environmental enrichment—Prevent behavioral issues caused by boredom
Because cats are so good at masking signs of disease, we recommend more frequent veterinary wellness visits—twice per year—for cats over the age of 7. When was the last time your feline friend visited our office? Call us at 828-754-4545 to schedule your cat’s next preventive care visit.