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Your vet is your ally in providing the best possible care for your cat. He or she is there for more than emergencies though. The annual cat vet checkup is the cornerstone of good preventive medicine, and that is just as important for cats as it is for us humans.
Why do we even need an annual cat vet checkup?
You may wonder why you should shell out good money on a cat that seems to be absolutely healthy. If that wasn’t enough, for most cats a vet visit can be stressful. Some cats freak out as soon as you place them in the cat carrier, so why put them through the ordeal?
The problem is cats that seem to be healthy may not be. An annual checkup gives your vet a chance to find early symptoms of the disease that you may not be able to spot yourself. A heart murmur or abnormal blood test results can be an early indication of internal disease and they can only be discovered during a proper veterinary examination of your cat. With most medical issues, early detection is key. Some diseases, such as diabetes, involve a slow and persistent process that gradually causes irrevocable damage to internal organs. With others, like certain types of tumors, early detection could mean the difference between an effective removal and cancer that has metastasized all over the body.
The older the cat, the more important these annual checkups become – but they are invaluable at any age. They may actually save you money in the long term – and they could save Kitty’s life. While they are stressful, in the overall risk management for cats, that amount of stress is an acceptable price to pay. If your cat is extremely agitated by visiting the clinic, talk to your veterinarian about it. He or she may offer a light sedative you can give Kitty before leaving home, or may even a house call.
As always, your vet should be your ally. An open line of communication about the meaning of your cat’s annual vet checkups, including helping you to assess the best, cheapest and least stressful way to conduct them. If you’re not comfortable discussing these with your veterinarian, you should read this article: How To Talk To Your Vet. If that doesn’t help, it could be time to think about switching to a different veterinarian. Don’t forget to read our article on the topic: How To Choose The Best Veterinarian For My Cat.
So, what should you expect when you bring a (hopefully) healthy cat in for a checkup?
Annual Checkup for Cats
Even if you believe your cat to be in perfect health, an annual veterinary checkup is just part of good cat care. Depending on your vaccination routine and schedule, this checkup may be combined with giving those annual booster shots.
Your vet is likely to discuss the cat’s condition with you, and this is the time for you to bring up any issues, health-related or behavioral, that may indicate a change in the cat’s overall condition.
The vet will feel your cat all over, looking for suspicious lumps and any changes to the cat’s physique. He or she will check the cat’s eyes, ears and teeth as well as look for external parasites. The vet will also listen to the heart and lungs using a stethoscope. The results of the initial checkup may lead your vet to suggest further tests, including a blood panel, a fecal examination and urinalysis.
Annual Checkups for the Senior Cat
Once your cat reaches his or her golden years, you should double the frequency of regular checkups. A full veterinary checkup twice a year is necessary to keep full tabs on your cat’s medical condition.
The exam is likely to be more thorough. Senior blood panels are likely to be performed at least once a year, as well as fecal and urine tests. The results of these tests can provide your vet with the necessary warning signs of internal health issues, long before any actual symptoms show up. Hopefully, this can help prevent disease through pre-emptive medicine and dietary changes.
First Time Checkup for a New Cat
Special attention is needed when the checkup involves a new cat. If you have other cats at home, do not introduce the new cat before he or she has the all-clear from your vet. Your vet will perform the basic checkup as described above and look into some other issues as well.
If at all possible, try and obtain the cat’s previous medical records, indicating existing medical issues, past procedures and vaccination status. If you have no valid medical history of the cat, the initial checkup is likely to include tests for FeLV and FIV. The vet will probably check more thoroughly for external parasites, and a fecal sample should be taken to test for internal parasites such as worms.
We hope you found this guide helpful! Do you have any friends who think their cat doesn’t need annual checkups? Share this article with them, via Facebook, Twitter or mail. If you need more help with anything relating to Kitty’s health and physical well-being, post your question in the cat health forum and our members will try to help out.
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