Pet Care
August 22, 2023

Caring for Your Feline Friend: The Vital Role of Preventative Veterinary Care

August 22nd is National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day! While it may not always be the most fun, taking your cat for yearly exams is vital to keeping them healthy longterm. Learn why it is so important to make the trip and how to make it a little less stressful for everyone!

Cat in Yellow Cat Carrier Backpack

Cats are often forgotten when it comes to regular veterinary care. Many people don’t think they need it or that their cats get too stressed going to the vet. No matter the age or health of your cat, it is crucial that your cat be examined by a licensed veterinarian at least once yearly. For some tips on how to make the visit a bit less stressful check out our video below.

Cats age faster than us

Cats age much faster than humans. Once a cat reaches 2 years old, they are approximately 25 in human years; after that, one year for a human is about 4 years for them. We as humans need to visit the doctor regularly for an evaluation, and the same goes for cats. Each year the physical exam becomes more and more important. When they reach 7 years and older, they are considered seniors, and visiting the vet every 6 months is recommended. Since cats age quicker, we must be more vigilant of health changes as they can happen very quickly. Hopefully, we can catch illnesses sooner and be more proactive about keeping our cats healthy. 

Physical Exam

When a doctor examines your cat, they start from head to toe checking their teeth/mouth, lymph nodes, abdomen, joints, skin/hair coat, heart, lungs, and ears. It’s crucial to check a cat’s mouth during the exam. Vets can watch for dental disease and rotten teeth by looking at their teeth. Infection in the mouth can be detrimental to your cat’s overall health. Cats can also get cancer in their mouth, and it is vital to catch it fast. Lymph nodes will be checked for swelling, indicating something abnormal with the immune system. An enlarged lymph node will indicate further investigation. The abdomen is checked for abnormal internal organs and pain. Joints are examined for arthritis, range of motion, pain, or mechanical joint issues. Skin and coat are checked for fleas or any signs of skin irritation. The heart and lungs are listened to with a stethoscope to check for abnormal sounds that may indicate serious health issues. Ears are also examined to make sure their ear canals are clean and clear. 

Vaccines

Even if your cat is indoor only, they need vaccinations. Cats require a feline distemper vaccine, otherwise known as FVRCP (Feline rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, panleukopenia). This vaccine protects cats from several viruses all in one vaccine. Every cat should have this vaccine starting as early as 8 weeks old, then yearly, or sometimes every 3 years. Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations on how often to vaccinate. Cats also require a rabies vaccine. Rabies is 100% deadly and should be taken seriously. Rabies is also contagious to humans. Finally, if your cat goes outside, it is also important to vaccinate for feline leukemia. Feline leukemia is contagious cat-to-cat. It is a common cause of cancer in cats and weakens their immune system. 

Some may argue that their cat never goes outside and doesn’t need these vaccines. That is not true, and it is imperative that these vaccine guides be followed. Cats can escape, things get tracked in, and wild animals can get into the house. So there is always a chance for infection. Keeping your cats vaccinated will ensure they stay as healthy as they can for as long as possible. 

Testing

Cats should also have a stool sample checked once yearly for intestinal parasites. Indoor only cats can still get parasites. Parasites get tracked inside, some potting soils can contain parasites, and some cats are hunters. It is always best to check your cat’s stool to ensure they are parasite free. 

Senior cats are best monitored for diseases by checking blood work. Once a cat reaches age 7, they are in the senior category. Running senior blood work will monitor their blood counts, liver, kidney, thyroid, and other essential values. Running blood work is a good way to catch potential diseases before the cat shows symptoms. They may seem healthy, but we can’t know for sure unless blood work has been done. Finding conditions on blood work will help us to treat and control them before they get too severe. Often there are things we can do to slow the progression of most diseases. 

Preventatives

As stated before, indoor only cats do get parasites and fleas. Therefore, it is important to keep all cats on a monthly preventative. Ask your vet about the best products. There are several effective products out there that prevent intestinal parasites, fleas, ticks, and heartworm disease. Do NOT use dog flea preventative on your cats as that would be deadly. 

Along with veterinary visits comes the benefit of all the knowledge and advice from the veterinary staff. Listen to their recommendations as best as you can. You can discuss any questions about every aspect of your cat’s care. With regular veterinary visits and testing, your cat will likely live a longer, happier, healthier life.