Sunday, June 30, 2013

Why Does My Cat Need a Yearly Check up?

by Amanda L Maus DVM
Tucson, AZ

We live with our cats and feel like we are experts on them.  We see them daily and feel like we would know if there was any problem that needed attention.  However, since we do see them daily, sometimes it is difficult for us to detect changes that happened slowly over time.  Other times we blame changes on the weather, season, pet’s age, pet’s breed, etc.  A yearly visit to your veterinarian with your pet is the perfect time for an objective assessment of your cat’s physical health as well as to be able to gather advice about changes that may be happening and what to do about them.

In addition to the physical examination being performed, your veterinarian will discuss your pet’s diet in terms of appetite, type of food fed, and amount fed. They will inquire about your cat’s exercise regimen and energy level.  Questions are asked regarding  litter box habits and output.  Other questions cover vomiting, coughing/wheezing, and sneezing.

During the physical exam, your veterinarian may not verbalize all of the things they are assessing, since they are often continuing to ask questions about your cat.  Here is a general list of the things being checked and noted:
  • Mental Status/General Appearance/Symmetry
  • Weight/Hydration
  • Lymph nodes
  • Thyroid
  • Heart/Lungs
  • Abdomen
  • Temperature

As your veterinarian assess these areas, they are looking for signs of allergies, infections, parasites, organ diseases, metabolic diseases, cardiac disease, cancer, pain/discomfort, neurologic problems, arthritis, etc.  The physical exam findings plus the discussion about the pet allow for an objective evaluation of your pet’s overall health and helps determine if lifestyle adjustments are needed or if additional tests are needed for more information. 

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