Visiting the veterinarian is a significant hassle. Then there’s the matter of catching your cat and getting her into the carrier, which should be an Olympic event. Then there’s the drive there, with all the hissing and low growls, followed by parking and carrying the carrier inside. Once inside, there are dogs…so many dogs…along with strange noises and odors that agitate your beautiful pet even further. Then there’s the waiting, the never-ending waiting, and then you have to do it all over again to come home.
Is it essential to take my cat to the vet once a year?
Yes, cats, like humans, should visit the veterinarian once a year, even if they appear to be in good health. Cats are stoic, so your veterinarian must keep an eye on your pet for changes that might not be noticeable to the untrained eye! Annual vet visits, often known as wellness checks, can help prevent conditions that could be fatal. To stay effective, certain immunizations require “boosters” every few years. Wellness visits also provide an excellent chance for you to discuss any difficulties your cat is experiencing with your veterinarian. These could be behavioral, or they could be age-related or diet-related. Over half of all pets in the United States are overweight; seeing the vet once a year assures you don’t ignore your cat’s weight gain.
Vet Care For Senior Cats
A cat who reaches the age of seven is considered a senior, believe it or not. It’s suggested that she see the veterinarian twice a year to check for indicators of age-related disorders that might develop quickly; some of these diseases can become extremely serious in a year, which is why twice-yearly checkups are required.
Kittens And Veterinarians
For obvious reasons, kittens require far more visits to the veterinarian than adult cats. The veterinarian must ensure that they are growing appropriately and receiving all of their immunizations on time. Your kitten will need to see the vet 5-6 times throughout her first year of life. When your cat is 6-8 weeks old, she will require vaccinations every 3-4 weeks until she reaches the age of four months. These vaccine checkups may infrequently occur until she is around six months old, depending on what she is being vaccinated for and her unique immunization schedule. The first year is also when you should start talking to your vet about getting your cat microchipped and spayed or neutered (and maybe undertake the operations).
What to Expect During Your Cat’s Annual Exam
Your cat may be young in years, but it’s vital to realize that she’s maturing quicker than you are when it comes to her health. A rule of thumb is that a cat’s first two years are equivalent to 24 human years, and each successive feline year is equal to four human years after that. As a result, the American Animal Hospital Association recommends that healthy adult cats get a full veterinarian check once a year, and healthy senior cats have one every six months. A lot may happen in a year, especially when your cat is unable to — or unwilling to – communicate minor aches and problems to you.
Coughing, diarrhea, lethargy, limping, vomiting, eating more or less than usual, weight increase or loss, drinking and urinating more than usual, itching, irritability, hiding or other behavioral changes, running into things, head shaking, or lack of coordination are all things to mention before your appointment. Your veterinarian will inquire about your cat’s medical history, whether you have any health concerns, and whether you’ve seen any changes in her.
The First Steps
A veterinary technician will typically begin your cat’s inspection by taking a medical history from you and completing a preliminary examination, including weight, temperature, pulse, and breathing rate. When the veterinarian comes in to complete your cat’s exam, any changes or abnormalities discovered during this preliminary check will be relayed to her.
A blood sample may be taken at any time during your visit by the veterinary technician. Blood can be tested for feline leukemia, feline immunodeficiency viruses, and other illnesses. It’s also possible that a complete blood count (CBC) and the chemical panel will be recommended. The CBC can detect anemia and various infections, while the chemistry panel can indicate issues with different internal organs, including the liver and kidneys. Unless there’s a pressing need, the veterinarian may recommend sending the blood to a laboratory for testing; the results can take a few days to get back.
If you didn’t bring a stool sample, the technician might obtain one from the cat using a specific instrument. The presence of intestinal parasites will be examined in this sample. The veterinarian may review a urine sample if renal disease, diabetes, or other disorders are suspected.
From Head to Tail, Examining Your Cat
Veterinary examinations are frequently conducted from head to tail, beginning with the nose and mouth. She’ll look for abnormal discharge or symptoms of obstructed breathing in your cat’s nose. She’ll examine the gums, teeth, tongue, palate, and throat, noting any abnormalities such as gum color, tartar accumulation, pain, loose or broken teeth, growths, and so on. She’ll then proceed to the ears, possibly using an otoscope to look inside the canal for debris and discharge that could indicate mites or infection. She’ll examine the eyes for release, corneal irregularities, signs of vision loss, and abnormalities in the lids. She’ll inspect the conjunctiva and, if necessary, use an ophthalmoscope to look into the eye for lens or retinal issues.
After that, the veterinarian will proceed to the rest of the body, possibly starting with the hair and skin. She’ll part her hair and look for parasites or signs of skin disease. She will then feel her way around the body, including the mammary glands, for abnormal growths. She’ll palpate the abdominal region, feeling for abnormalities in the intestines, kidneys, liver, and spleen, among other internal organs. She’ll look for abnormally large lymph nodes and thyroid glands. Finally, she’ll listen for abnormal heart and lung sounds with a stethoscope.
The veterinarian will examine your cat’s vaccination history and may advise you to get any vaccines that are past due up to date. She may also recommend specific vaccines for your cat based on his lifestyle and geographic location. She may also speak with you about spaying or neutering, nutrition, exercise, behavior, and other topics that may affect your cat’s health.
Concerns for Senior Cats
A blood panel and urinalysis should be performed on older cats, especially those who are nearing the end of their expected lifespan. More specific tests, such as a parathyroid and thyroid test or a senior panel, may be recommended if your older cat loses weight or shows other potential signs of illness.
Because kidney disease is common in older cats, the veterinarian may pay special attention to kidney function testing. Your veterinarian may also check your older cat’s blood pressure. An older cat may require a chest radiograph to check the heart and lungs, as well as an osteoarthritis check, which involves the veterinarian moving all of the joints and looking for pain or other abnormalities.
If your veterinarian discovers anything suspicious, she may recommend additional testing, regardless of how old your cat is (blood tests, radiographs, an electrocardiogram, ultrasound, cultures, skin scrapings, or several other procedures). She might even refer your cat to a professional.
Your veterinarian will not notice anything unusual in an ideal world, and you will leave the office with greater peace of mind. Any problems your cat may have are more likely to be found early with frequent examinations, allowing for earlier intervention and a higher overall quality of life for your cat.
Is it time for your cat to be spayed or neutered?
Your cat should see her veterinarian at least once a year in general. Of course, this does not include any one-time visits she may require, such as when she gets a terrible cold or a limp that refuses to go away. These things happen, and it’s critical to obtain competent medical help as soon as possible, as well as to keep your annual or biannual appointments on the calendar.