It’s that time again….you’ve received the reminder card from your veterinarian’s office….time to pack up your kitty(who LOVES-total sarcasm- getting into the carrier) and head to see your veterinarian for his/her yearly physical exam and vaccines. We understand the vaccine part. We want our cats to remain immune to disease. But why the exam? Especially in an outwardly appearing healthy cat…..
In my opinion, the physical exam is one of the most valuable things you can do for your cat.
Let’s break it down. Cats are stoic creatures. They will not show signs of pain,discomfort or illness until the illness is advanced. By that point it may be too late to intervene. How many of us kitty lovers have had a healthy cat one day who becomes a critically ill cat the next? Signs of illness mean weakness and in a cat’s world survival is contingent on not showing weakness. It makes sense in the animal world but makes it tough for the humans who love them. How do we know if anything is going on with them? Especially when they won’t complain?
Because our cats cannot talk to us and will hide signs of illness, the physical exam is the best first step in the process of evaluating your cat’s health. Prior to the exam your veterinarian or technician will ask you a series of questions about your cat- we call this a ‘history’. If you know ahead of time the things to look for you can be a valuable help in assessing your cat’s health. Have you noticed any changes in your cat’s behavior,appetite,thirst, or litter box habits? Is your cat doing anything out of the ordinary or unusual? The history of your cat is the first important step in evaluating your cat’s health.
During the exam your vet will carefully observe, listen and feel your cat. In a follow up blog I will go through the steps of an exam-what we do and why. Many illnesses including heart conditions, skin conditions and dental disease can be diagnosed on physical exam.
We all want the same thing- a happy healthy cat for as many years as possible. Please bring your kitty to the vet at least once a year (senior kitty’s should go twice a year) for a routine physical exam. This one little step may be what it takes to enable your cat to live longer and healthier.