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The Importance Of Cat Wellness Exams



Dr. Sudeep Wahla
Prestige Animal Hospital

What is a cat wellness exam?

A cat wellness exam is generally an exam that we do on a regular basis, be it a biannual, twice a year, or annually, once a year, just to make sure that your kitty cats are staying nice and healthy and they have a good long life. Essentially, we do a thorough exam. We examine their teeth, their eyes, their ears, musculoskeletal system, neurologic system, feel their abdomen, make sure we're not seeing any abnormal lumps or bumps on the body, check their skin under their tail. So it's a full overall exam and discussion also with the clients to make sure their pets are doing well.

Is there anything specific the veterinarian will be looking for during my cat's wellness exam?

Oh yes, definitely. We'll be looking for any abnormalities that may have not gone detected. For example, ear infections. We get our otoscope, which is a device that we use to look into the ear, to check for any early ear infections. We listen to the heart for any underlying heart murmurs or any lung disease that we can also take. Sometimes cats are good at hiding things and they're hard to find. So using some of these specific techniques that we've learned as veterinarians, we can detect things that maybe the cats are not showing us right now.

Will my cat's wellness exam require any specific lab work or procedures?

Well, I guess that all depends on your pet's lifestyle. Many times it will. And sometimes it won't. For example, kittens. They all need a fecal test or stool test or "poop test," we like to call it, to check for parasites. Sometimes they need to be screened for leukemia or FIV, which are pretty common feline diseases. As they age, regular blood works, annual or yearly blood works, are very important for cats for early detection of certain issues. And as they get older into their senior years, x-rays to look at their hearts and lungs and joints are also going to be important. So it's all relative and age-based or if they're showing any signs.

How does wellness impact the longevity and health of my cat?

Wellness in general, our goal is prevention. Prevention rather than curing something after or treating something after it's already occurred, but better to prevent it from happening to prevent the stress for your kitty cat and the stress we go through seeing them go through something like that. So basically what we're doing is ensuring that we're catching these things that could shorten their life and make their lives less of a quality early to increase their quality of life and length of life.

When should I bring my cat in for a veterinary wellness exam?

I know most cat owners are pulling their hair saying, "Probably never because they won't get in the carrier at home, but when they're at the vet, they run in the carrier." But realistically, if at all possible when they're younger kittens, we're seeing them basically every three weeks to get them caught up on their vaccinations and preventative care. Then when they turn into adulthood, ideally every six months would be great because, remember, cats and dogs age faster than people. So six months to them can be two or three years sometimes and bigger pets even longer. So at least, I would say, annually.

The other thing that's going to depend on is whether your kitty cat is indoor or outdoor. If your cat goes outdoors at all, every six months.

What are some signs and symptoms that my cat might not be feeling well?

Kitty cats are very good at hiding things, but that is one of the signs that they're not feeling well is they also hide themselves. Hiding under bed or hiding somewhere where they don't normally go, not grooming. Any cat that you ever see open mouth breathing or panting, cats don't pant. Take them to your vet. So some of these are signs that they might not be feeling well.

Other common signs of not eating as much, not eating at all, drinking more or less water because sometimes increased water consumption can indicate some underlying diabetes or other issues potentially. So these are some common signs that we see that cats aren't really feeling well. But the majority of cats, if they're really not feeling well, tend to hide.

What are some possible environmental factors that can affect cat wellness?

I guess the number one environmental factor, and I'm guessing this wraps back around to my lifestyle as well, is whether they're indoor or outdoor, because indoor kitties have less exposure to disease than outdoor kitties. That does not mean they're not exposed because if you have your door open and you have a screen door and outside kitty meets your inside kitty at the screen door, they can still transmit some disease via screen through respiratory aerosols.

So essentially, the main environmental factors are, or lifestyle is, are they indoor outdoor? But like dogs too, sometimes cats get allergies as well from spring, fall, summer, if it's too hot and they don't have a place for shade or proper amounts of water, they can get some heat stroke issues as well, less commonly cats, but it can occur. So these are some factors that can affect kitty cats.

Why is early detection so important to the wellbeing of my cat?

Early detection is so important, and this is one of our main philosophies that our clinic is, because if you find it early, you potentially can get ahead of it without becoming something so full blown that now you're trying to catch up and never quite catching up and getting a treatment or a cure for the issue that's going on. So early detection and prevention. That's our mainstay of cat wellness and longevity is just making sure we catch it early enough so we can get ahead of it.

FAQ - Cat Wellness


Dr. Sudeep Wahla
Prestige Animal Hospital

What are some things I can do to maximize cat wellness at home?

Maximizing kitty cat wellness at home, basically environmental factors. A lot depends on the indoors or outdoors, but essentially proper nutrition, keeping them current on vaccinations, flea and tick controls, proper exercise, and playing with them. Grooming, making sure they're grooming and making sure they're on time for their vet visits is also an important factor.

What can I do to provide my cat with the best nutrition possible?

Personally, I love the pet owners that measure out their food. Free feeding to me is the number one way that pets gain weight. We've discussed this before and we've discussed it with many clients, they'll say, "Oh, my cat gained weight after the spay." Or she got fixed. And my number one question after that is, "Do you free feed?" 80, 90% of people say yes. Free feeding is the number one way these kitties have gained weight. If you leave me at home with nothing to do I'm going to run to the fridge 20 times a day, and I'll probably gain weight as well. So don't leave the food out, measure it, give them about 20 minutes to eat. If they don't eat, pick it up. If you're going to feed one, two, or three times a day, do that regiment. Measure it with a measuring cup that has increments on it so you know how much you're feeding. If they're gaining weight, back it up, if they're not, increase it.

So that's probably the best nutritional advice I could give at this point. Wet food or dry food is a big debate. Some cats make their own decision on that. I personally prefer wet food, but make sure you're doing regular dental exams because that food can take on their teeth and they will need regular dentals.

How do I keep my indoor and my outdoor cat healthy?

With indoor kitty cats, get them used to playing a little bit, and I know it's easier said than done. A lot of people are probably looking at me like you come to my house and get my cat to play. But the feather players, the laser pointers, anything you can do to get your cat active and moving, try your best. It's great to start them early when they're kittens. Outdoor kitties tend to stay, from what I've seen, relatively healthy. They're out there stalking, playing, and preying, and bringing home lizards that they're preying on.

So just continue to take outdoor kitties especially, indoors also, keep them going to the vet. Regular vet visits, I know everybody hates putting them in carriers, but when you bring them in when they're kittens, ask us how we can make that a more pleasurable experience. There are some tips that we can give you on how going right into the carrier is not a miserable experience.

The first thing you want to do, I'll give you a quick one is don't put them in the carrier and take them to the vet every time. Put them in the carrier, walk around the house, give them a little treat. Let them come out, go back in. Because if the only place you put them is in the carrier to go to the vet where they get shots and get their temperature taken and all these not fun things, I wouldn't want to go in the carrier either. So get them used to being happy and friendly in the carrier. And we can go over more of that, and we have a lot of good information on that on our website as well under client resources so check that out.

How often do I need to brush my cat's teeth?

That is very important for wellness because I'd say a lot of people just don't do it. And we do regular dental exams on cats. And we were just talking about how the wet food could cake on it. Ideally, the correct answer is daily, just as with people. There've been studies that show if you do it every other day, it's of some benefit, not as much. If you go every three days, it's basically not doing much at that point. So ideally for your cat's teeth to be brushed, daily. remember no people toothpaste we have special toothpaste for cats.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (909) 527-7004, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.

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