Vail Pet Talk column: Make an appointment for a kitty checkup
Are you the proud owner of a cat? Are you the local crazy cat lady? Do you have a cat that spends most of its time outdoors hunting, or does your cat spend its days curled up in the sunspot on your bed?
Whether your cat prefers the great outdoors or spends most of its time inside, it is important to remember that yearly visits to the veterinarian are essential for a cat’s longterm health .
Preventative care exams, or kitty check-ups, are recommended at least once a year for all cats and more frequently for those cats that are geriatric (8 or more years old) or have a chronic condition. These visits are essential in order to maintain your cat’s health and give you the opportunity to discuss behavior, nutrition, lifestyle and preventative care recommendations.
There are many things that your veterinarian will look for while performing a physical exam, as a cat’s mouth is an important indicator for its overall health. We look for tartar, inflammation or anything unusual that may cause infection or tooth loss. Cats are prone to chronic dental conditions that greatly affect their ability to eat and maintain a good quality of life, so it’s important to spot changes early.
An eye exam can tell us many things, such as if your cat is experiencing hypertension (high blood pressure), has an infection, has signs of glaucoma or has cataracts. All of these conditions can be indicative of a much larger problem and are important to keep track of.
When we are giving your kitty a rub down of its body, we are checking muscle tone, hair coat and weight and looking for enlarged lymph nodes, tumors and pain. When we feel the abdomen from the outside, we are making sure that the organs feel normal and there isn’t something there that shouldn’t be.
When we use the stethoscope, we are making sure that your kitty’s lungs sound clear; we are also making sure that the heart sounds normal and that there are no signs of a murmur or irregular beats. Cats can develop heart disease, which can be life threatening and greatly decrease their quality of life.
Cats can experience arthritis in addition to debilitating degenerative joint disease, and a thorough physical exam may pick up on this. Some of the more common areas where cats experience this are in the elbows and in the spine. Cats experiencing this may exhibit nonspecific signs, such as reduced activity, anorexia, aggression, decreased socialization, inappropriate elimination and constipation. Your vet can help you manage this at home if it turns out your cat is experiencing pain from either one of these conditions.
Cats age much faster than humans do and are masters at hiding an illness — all the more reason to visit the veterinarian on a regular basis. We are trained to spot abnormalities sooner than Mom and Dad can at home. Be sure to stay on top of regular visits in order to guarantee you and your cat the most possible time together.
Liz Foster, DVM, is an associate veterinarian at Mountain Mobile Vet and The Animal Hospital Center. She can be reached at 970-328-7085.
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