Just because cats are kept indoors does not mean that they don’t have to come to the vet. We hear this time and time again, and when we finally do have a chance to see one of these apparently healthy kitties, we often uncover some nasty surprises. Heart murmurs, dental disease, kidney disease, thyroid problems — all of these common conditions can happen without your cat showing you any signs of being sick. Early detection and intervention is key to keeping your cat happy and healthy.
Regular physical exams are necessary to detect any hidden issues that may become a problem over time. A complete evaluation of all body systems will enable us to identify any of these issues. This is also your opportunity to discuss any particular concerns or questions that you may have as well.
We will evaluate your cat’s weight and body condition using a body condition score, to determine if he or she is underweight, overweight, or ideal. Obesity is very common in cats, and can lead to diabetes, liver disease, and joint problems. Together, we will be able to make recommendations for any dietary or environmental changes needed to help keep your kitty at his or her ideal weight.
Dental issues are also common in cats. Cats very commonly develop cavity-like lesions (holes) in their teeth, called Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions (FORLs). These lesions expose the inner sensitive part of the tooth, and are extremely painful. Since cats have an evolutionary drive to eat and hide signs of pain, they don’t let owners know that anything is wrong, and these lesions are usually first noticed during your cat’s annual exam. Regular dental cleanings are essential to keeping your cat healthy and pain-free, and will be discussed during your appointment.
Cats have a number of “core” vaccines that they need to be given regularly: feline viral rhinotracheitis (herpes), calicivirus, panleukopenia and rabies. We recommend these vaccinations even in indoor cats, as they are easily transmitted through the air or through clothing and other articles. Cats do not need direct contact with an infected animal for infection to occur (except rabies). Most of these vaccines only need to be given every three years, except for rabies, which is given annually.
Although rabies requires direct contact for transmission, its human health implications make it an extremely important disease to vaccinate for. It is also a legal requirement that all cats be vaccinated for rabies.
Cats that venture outside, and could possibly have direct contact with other cats, are also vaccinated for feline leukemia virus. This vaccine must be given annually for adequate protection.
Wellness blood profile
Our wellness blood profile includes a complete blood count, and a blood chemistry panel that screens the major body systems that can cause problems in cats. In addition to screening for problems, these tests provide us with a “baseline” set of normal values for your pet, and can be compared to test results as your pet ages to see if there are any changes or trends over time.
Feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus (feline AIDS) are two potentially devastating infectious diseases of cats. These viruses can remain latent in the body for years without causing any damage before they finally begin to cause disease, including cancer.
Transmission of these viruses requires cat to cat contact (usually through a bite), and all outdoor cats are screened for these diseases at their annual checkup.
Flea prevention (outdoor cats)
Outdoor cats are at risk of picking up fleas, and should be placed on prevention during the summer and fall. The products available nowadays are extremely safe and effective — much better than the nasty sprays, powders and collars that we used to use in the old days. Topical products that are applied monthly to the back of the neck, as well as a single injection that protects against fleas for the entire six month season are available.
Fecal examination (outdoor cats)
Any pet whose feet (or nose) touch the ground are at risk of becoming infected with intestinal parasites. Eating rodents and other little creatures also put a cat at risk of becoming infected. These parasites can not only cause illness if left untreated, but they can also be passed on to other animals, and sometimes even to humans (especially children or immune-compromised adults). For these reasons, it is imperative that all outdoor cats have their stool analysed for intestinal parasites at least once a year.