Monitoring your cat’s health

 

By monitoring your cat for changes in activity or behavior, you can spot illness or injury at an early stage. Similarly, a vet can assess your cat’s condition at regular checkups and keep records of any problems.

Detecting problems

Cats are notorious for hiding any signs of pain, illness, or injury. In the wild, their survival would depend on not showing weakness so that they do not attract the attention of predators. However, this ruse also means that owners might not notice problems until they have become severe.

If your cat seems more hungry or thirsty than usual, goes off his food, or loses weight, you need to consult a vet. If your cat cries or strains when urinating or defecating, or has accidents in the home, it could signify an internal disorder.

Changes in behavior could also indicate problems. Your cat may be reluctant to come to you or may hide himself away. He may be less active or may sleep more than usual. He may become abnormally timid or aggressive

Initial visit to the vet

As soon as you have scheduled the date for your cat’s arrival, register with a vet.

ou may want to consider pet insurance. If you haven’t used a vet before, ask friends or neighbors for recommendations, look at local newspaper or internet advertisements, or ask an animal protection agency or one of the cat organizations listed at the end of this book  for suggestions on how to carry out your search.

Before making a final decision, it can help to visit local veterinary practices to find out how they are organized.

Check to see if the office has separate waiting areas for cats and dogs, and allows people to put cat carriers on seats or other raised areas: arrangements that help lessen stress for nervous pets.

A cat that was bought from a breeder or adopted from an animal protection agency should ideally already have had a veterinary checkup.

Otherwise, arrange for your cat to have a full checkup as soon as you have assumed ownership. The vet can check that your cat has been neutered and fitted with a microchip for identification Kitten health checks , and will carry out these procedures if needed; the vet will also assess the cat’s general health, and make sure that vaccinations are up to date.

Routine vet checks

The vet will carry out basic health checks and run additional diagnostic tests if needed. You may be shown how to carry out basic checks at home .

As well as listening to your cat’s heart and counting how fast it is beating, the vet will feel for the pulse on the inside of the hind leg.

He or she will watch how your cat is breathing and listen to the lungs with a stethoscope to detect any unusual sounds such as wheezing and crackles. To measure temperature, the vet will insert a lubricated thermometer into the cat’s anus.

The vet will use viewing instruments with lights to examine the interior of your cat’s eyes and ears. The vet will also look inside the mouth and feel the abdomen to detect any swelling or tenderness, before moving on to examine the legs, paws, and claws.

The vet will weigh your cat. This is important because changes of even as little as around 7 oz (200 grams) can be a symptom of ill-health in a small animal.

Additional services

Your cat should have a regular health check at least once a year. The veterinary surgery may also offer extra services such as weight control clinics, dental checks, post-neutering care, and clinics for older cats. Minor tasks such as clipping a cat’s claws may be carried out by a veterinary nurse.

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