Earlier this year we posted a little blog regarding stress reduction in the feline patient, starting from transportation and including the veterinary visit itself.
So now that we have a plan for transporting your feline friend in to the vet’s office with as little drama as possible and a method to keep stress levels down during their visit, let’s discuss our goal for your pet while they are in the clinic!
Of course, when your cat comes in to the clinic, we perform a physical exam. Not everyone realizes what all this entails. We’ll start with discussing your cat’s history and any concerns you might have. The cat’s ears and eyes are examined for debris and signs of infection. The lymph nodes are checked and the skin is examined. The teeth are assessed (as much as the cat allows!) for tartar or calculus (the hard, dark-colored shell of material on the teeth). We also are looking for signs of gingivitis, such as redness of the gums and gingival recession. The heart and lungs are carefully listened to with a stethoscope, and the abdomen is palpated to check organ size and screen for masses. We will assess your cat’s body condition to see if any changes need to be made in their diet or activity level. The joints and limbs are palpated and flexed to check for any indications of musculoskeletal pain.
As cats become older, they become more susceptible to disease processes such as kidney failure, diabetes and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland). Our goal is to catch these as early as possible; exams for senior cats are now recommended every 6 months. Your veterinarian may recommend blood work and a urinalysis to check for any underlying disease process. Often, this lab work is repeated every 6-12 months to keep a watch for any changes. There are several ways to manage any one of these conditions and help prolong the quality of life of your pet.
Sometimes, your pet may not show any signs of illness at home, but still be developing an issue. This stage is referred to as “subclinical”. A cat becomes “clinical” when signs develop, such as increased thirst, urination, vocalizing, weight loss, vomiting, etc. Though we can’t cure many of these diseases, most are very manageable and treatable with diet and/or medication.
Even if your cat is not due for vaccinations, an exam is still very important! We’d much rather catch something and manage it early then have to treat a pet in the later stages of a disease process.
Cats can develop issues such as dental disease even when they are young. Though young cats don’t necessarily need to be examined every 6 months like their more mature counterparts, they should still have an annual check-up.
Studies have shown that while pet owners are quite good at bringing their dogs in for regular exams, cats are not brought in nearly as often. This may be due to a more pronounced stress response from cats than what we typically see from dogs. Our hope is that as we strive to reduce stress associated with transportation and with the veterinary visit itself that we help make the process as easy and painless as possible! Annual exams are very important, even in a cat that seems healthy!
If you have any questions or concerns regarding transportation of your cat, getting your cat used to the carrier, ways to reduce stress in the car or of course any medical concerns, feel free to call or send us an email!
We hope to see you soon!
Darbie Cummings, DVM