August 22nd is National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day. That sounds fun, right? Not! Most cat owners would rather go to the dentist to get a root canal than to take their cat to the vet. Whether it is the crying and yowling or even getting kitty back home and being ignored for the next week, most people would rather not even bother with the whole process. A lot of folks feel that they have betrayed their cat, or they put them through a lot of stress by taking them to the vet.
While this may be an unpleasant experience for you and kitty, ensuring your cat gets to the vet at the minimum once a year is crucial for their overall health. Cats are very private creatures and can hide sickness very well, as they had to do so to avoid being preyed upon when they were in the wild. Because cats can be sneaky critters when it comes to not feeling well, it’s up to us as their owners to keep an eye on their overall normal activities. Here is a checklist of things to look for and to discuss when taking your cat to the vet:
Changes in eating, drinking, and litter box habits
Changes in eating, drinking, or using the litter box could be signs of something more serious going on. Things to watch out for would be:
- Have you noticed any changes in eating or drinking? Is kitty all the sudden eating or drinking more or less than usual?
- Is your cat using the litter box appropriately, and not urinating on something they are not supposed to such as the bed, a blanket, or even in front of the litter box?
- When you clean the litter box, do you notice any blood in the stool or urine?
Monitoring your cat’s weight
Has your cat started to gain a lot of weight? Or do they all the sudden look a lot skinnier than normal? These could be signs of dental problems, diabetes or hyperthyroidism, all common medical problems in adult and senior cats.
Changes in Kitty’s behavior
- Is your cat all the sudden more aggressive or grumpy to you or any other family members or pets in the household?
- Does kitty seem more affectionate than usual?
- Is kitty acting lazier than usual? Does kitty sleep a lot more than usual?
Giving your cat an overall pat-down
You should be regularly giving your kitty an overall “pat down” when petting and cuddling with them. This way, you can keep an eye on any sudden changes. Things you should be looking for include:
- Changes in fur/coat- texture, not grooming anymore, hair/skin issues
- Checking for any lumps/bumps
- Is kitty upset about you touching them anywhere on their body, where in the past they haven’t minded you touching them? This could be a sign of discomfort.
Looking in your cat’s mouth
This can be a hard task to do since cats can be feisty.
- It’s important that you check your cat’s teeth and mouth. Cats start to develop dental tartar around 2-3 years of age, and it will get progressively worse as they get older. This can eventually lead to health problems.
- Also, check for any sores in the mouth. You don’t have to stick your fingers in their mouth, just open their mouth a little every once in a while and peek inside. Let your veterinarian know if you notice anything new.
- Keep an eye on your cat’s eating habits, and even how they are eating. If they are suddenly eating their food differently, they may have something going on. Dental problems that are left unaddressed can result in poor health conditions very quickly.
Staying up-to-date with Kitty’s vaccines
Cats need vaccines every 1-3 years. What vaccines they need will depend on their age and lifestyle, as well as the lifestyle of your other pets in the household. It is important to stay up to date with their vaccines to ensure they do not catch any preventable diseases.
Changes in household pets or lifestyle
- Are there any new pets in the household?
- Has kitty now become an indoor/outdoor cat?
- Do you have another cat in the house that is indoor/outdoors?
All of these scenarios are important to consider for your cat’s overall health as changes in household or lifestyle could expose them to new dangers.
Watching for any changes in mobility
Keep an eye on how kitty is moving around and monitor for any changes or difficulties. Like humans, cats can develop arthritis and sore joints.
A little attention can go a long way
Overall, knowing your cat’s normal habits, behaviors and mannerisms can be important to their health. Seeing changes in behavior or appearance can signify something might be going on with kitty’s health, and generally the earlier you can catch things, the more comfortable your cat will be. Annual wellness exams and discussions with your veterinarian will help ensure that your cat lives a comfortable, healthy and happy life.
Just like with us going to the doctor, taking your cat to the vet may not be a fun experience for you or them, but it is a necessity. If you take the cat to the vet when they are feeling well, it will be much less of a traumatic experience for them than if you were to take the kitty to the vet when they were sick. The last thing anyone wants is to be poked, prodded, and touched when we are not feeling well, and your cat is no different. Take this checklist of items with you for kitty’s next wellness exam to ensure you can get the most out of the visit as possible!