We focus much of our hospital’s information on dogs in the spring and summer months, as our canine friends prepare for more time spent outdoors. However, our team always looks forward to wellness appointments with cats. This past week we have seen feline patients in all colours, shapes and sizes, ranging from age 8 weeks to 20 years of age! Many people assume that cats do not need to visit the vet regularly (particularly if indoors exclusively), but we would like to challenge this notion. Here are some things to consider if you are putting off your cat’s annual physical exam:
(1) One important part of any veterinary visit is the history that you give the doctor about how your cat is acting at home. By asking lots of questions, the vet is looking for clues to decide if your friend may be developing problems such as arthritis, diabetes or hyperthyroidism. This history is combined with a complete physical examination, which may detect early signs of health concerns such as heart disease or dental issues. We all need to remember that: (a) our pets age much more quickly than we do and (b) animals are made to hide signs of weakness and therefore do not show obvious symptoms of disease until problems have progressed significantly.
(2) During a wellness visit you will also get a chance to ask questions of the vet and discuss things such as nutrition, how to handle behavior problems or what to watch for as signs of illness. Remember to bring a list of concerns if necessary so that nothing is forgotten!
(3) The doctor may recommend vaccinations to prevent death or illness. We believe that these vaccines should always be tailored to your cat’s unique lifestyle (other than a Rabies vaccination which is required yearly by law in Toronto, even for indoor cats).
(4) With routine wellness visits, the vet and their team can get to know your cat and keep a consistent record of weight, coat condition and personality.
(5) You will be able to feel comfortable with the vet and the way that they and their team handle your friend. A sense of trust when your cat is healthy will help everyone involved if emergency care is ever necessary.
We know that very few cats enjoy coming to the vet, but we strive to make the visits as comfortable as possible. If you are unsure if the stress of a visit to the vet is worthwhile, consider the points above and please remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!