Hi, I'm Dr. Michele Drake and I'm here today with Moki to talk to you today about cat health month. We wanted to just discuss the importance of an annual exam for cats and as they age, bi-annual exams too. The reason for that is that cats are really amazing at hiding illness. Some of the things that can be lurking that can be an issue for younger cats even is they can have dental pain and cats get what's known as neck lesions (resorptive lesions) along their gum line. And these neck lesions actually just start to eat away at the tooth and they're extremely painful for cats.
And they're not going to tell you they have that problem. So that's just one of many things. Also just discussing nutrition, we see so many kitties that are overweight. It's really easy for your cat to get overweight. And this is something you're not going to really notice, but we will help you with that and help you decide on a diet plan because getting weight off a cat is hard. You're not taking them out for walks. So this is just another one of the things that we're going to discuss. So dental health, nutrition, certainly flea and tick control, and intestinal parasites.
These are many things that we're going to discuss that are really important for your cat and every cat's different. So usually when you come in for your annual exam, one of the doctors, myself, and we're going to talk to you about, I always say, what's the typical day look like for your pet? And we're going to kind of go through how they eat and what's important in their life and how we can make sure that we're optimizing that for the best health. Other things about vaccinations and blood work.
As cats age, it becomes critically important for us to pick up issues in their health that we're not going to notice or that they're not going to let us know about. So blood work, certainly a thorough physical exam, and history. Just reviewing everything with you is very important for the health of your cat.
What Is Involved In A Cat Preventive Care Program?
At The Drake Center For Veterinary Care, we understand that prevention is truly the best medicine where the health and wellness of your cat are concerned. This is why we offer our feline patients and their human counterparts a comprehensive array of cat preventive care services that promote cat health, wellness, and longevity of life.
A cat preventive care program consists of:
- Annual or Semi-Annual Physical Examinations
- Blood and urine analysis
- Ongoing Health and Wellness Education
- Periodic At-Home Monitoring
The focus of a preventive care program is to ensure that your cat is receiving everything they need to live a healthy life including proper nutrition, good hygiene, and adequate stimulation, as well as early detection of any illness or disease that may be developing. In the fight against various feline diseases, early detection makes a significant difference in the scope and effectiveness of treatment. Most feline diseases are much easier to treat in the early stages, while some diseases can actually reach a point where treatment is no longer an option. And, unfortunately, cats are so good at hiding signs and symptoms of the disease that by the time symptoms become obvious, it may be too late. This is why regular exams are critically important.
Annual/Semi-Annual Wellness Exams For Your Cat
An annual exam should be performed every 12 months, and a semi-annual wellness exam should be performed by your veterinarian every six months once your cat reaches 8 years of age. The physical exam is a comprehensive assessment of your cat's health. Your veterinarian will review various aspects of your cat's health, including:
- Vaccination Status
- Parasite Control - to include both internal and external parasites
- Dental Health
- Exercise and environmental enrichment
- Ears and Eyes
- Internal Organs
- Coat and Skin
- Bloodwork to help assess metabolic function
Based on the findings, your veterinarian will discuss any concerns, make recommendations and work with you to keep your cat as healthy as possible.
Bathing, Grooming & Hygiene Regimen For Cats
A sizeable portion of a cat's health involves self-bathing and grooming. A cat can manage its own skin, fur, and digestive health through self-grooming. However, there are things you can and should do as a cat owner to help ensure optimal hygiene by following a simple preventive care regimen. This includes:
- Brushing your cat's hair regularly to limit knots and furballs
- Trimming your cat's claws
- Physical interactions including petting and playing to maintain a healthy comfort level with interaction and engage the cat's senses
Of course, the temperament and disposition of your cat can affect your ability to maintain this regimen. If you are unable to do so, or if you have any concerns, our veterinary staff would be happy to discuss options and alternatives with you at your next appointment.
Feline Cancer Detection
Cancer is among the most frightening and painful diagnoses a cat owner can hear. It is also a disease that stands a better chance of being defeated if it is detected early on. As a cat owner, if you notice the development of lumps or conditions that look worrisome, please schedule a veterinary appointment immediately. However, it is important to understand that most of the cancer symptoms that a veterinarian will be able to spot early on, will not be noticeable to you. Again, because most signs of illness in cats remain subtle until they are in a more serious condition, it is very important to have a veterinarian give your cat a thorough physical on a regular basis. During the exam, our veterinarians will review with you what signs to look for in a cat that may be developing a serious illness.
Integrative Medicine For Cats
Preventive care for cats also includes various fields of integrative medicine. Integrative medicine consists of alternative practices that enhance or enrich standard or classical preventive and treatment-based protocols. Some of the many forms of integrative medicine that promote cat health include:
Integrative medicine can be very effective in promoting cat health when used in conjunction with other veterinarian recommended therapies or treatments. Ask your veterinarian what types of integrative medicine can help you have a happy and healthy cat for many years to come.
One of the most overlooked facets of preventive care for cats is dentistry. Cats do not tell you when they have oral pain or discomfort. In general, by four years of age, most cats have developed some dental or gingival disease that will require veterinary intervention. A thorough exam requires anesthesia and dental x-rays. The majority of dental disease in cats lies underneath the gum line. For this reason, x-rays are required to identify any disease that may be present in the tooth and the root of the tooth which may be a source of chronic pain. Some of the causes of dental disease and discomfort include:
- Tooth Loss
- Mouth Sores and Ulcers
- Gingivitis/Gum disease
- Periodontal Disease
A thorough cat teeth cleaning is something you should trust with your veterinarian, but regular brushing can be performed in the comfort of your home. We would love to assist you in learning how to approach and brush your cat's teeth. Many cats will tolerate daily teeth brushing if done in a gentle and respectful manner. You can also help facilitate excellent cat health by providing toys and treats formulated to help strengthen and/or clean your cat's teeth and gums.
For more information on feline dentistry, visit our cat dental care page.
Flea & Tick Prevention For Cats
No insects are as troublesome to you and your cat as fleas and ticks. Fleas can cause severe skin irritation and can infest your home if you do not have a good preventive plan. While less common than fleas in this area, ticks can transmit dangerous and even deadly diseases. Both indoor and outdoor cats are at risk for fleas and ticks, as these parasites can thrive in almost all geographic locations.
This is why flea and tick prevention is a cornerstone of comprehensive preventive care for cats. It is important to be aware that there are numerous products on the market that our veterinarians would strongly suggest you avoid. Every year, our veterinarians review all available flea and tick products to ensure that our recommendations are as up-to-date as possible. Our considerations include safety, effectiveness, and cost. Based on these factors we will work with you to customize a parasite prevention plan for your pets and family. As part of the preventive care for your cat, we will help you choose the safest, most effective parasite products.
For more information on flea and tick prevention for cats, visit our cat flea and tick page.
Raising a healthy cat depends heavily on the type and amount of food they consume on a daily basis. Low-quality cat food and treats high in fat or carbohydrates can negatively affect many aspects of your feline friend's health. Feline obesity is the most common health problem we see in our otherwise healthy cat patients. Developing a nutritional plan from an early age that includes a diet selection, a feeding plan, and an exercise plan is the best way to avoid feline obesity. Cats will have different nutritional requirements during each stage of their lives which include:
- Adult Cats
- Senior Cats
- In addition, there are health conditions that will require special diets
Your veterinarian can help determine if your cat is following a healthy diet, and also help formulate one tailored to your cat's nutritional needs, lifestyle, and current condition including prescribed feeding frequency and serving size. In general, we recommend high-quality canned food as the primary source of nutrition. However, some kibble in the diet may be ok in small amounts. Most cats will overeat if allowed to free feed. Remember, your cat will not tell you if they are full, nor can they make positive nutritional changes themselves. Therefore, you must take control of their dietary program, in order to ensure their health and wellness throughout every stage of life.
Vaccinations are a fundamentally essential component of cat care. They consist of a series of immunizations given to your cat as a kitten, and then boosters given periodically throughout its lifetime. Vaccinations help prevent and fight various serious, even potentially fatal diseases that cats are at risk of contracting. They also help prevent the spread of diseases between felines, as well as to human beings.
Although the rabies vaccine is the only vaccination currently required by law in most states, we strongly recommend fostering good cat health by making sure your feline friend completes his or her recommended vaccination protocol on time. This program is determined by your veterinarian and is based on the lifestyle, geographic location, and pre-existing medical conditions of your cat.
Schedule An Appointment To Discuss A Preventive Care Regimen For Your Cat
We are a dedicated, knowledgeable, and passionate group of veterinarians who absolutely love both our kitty patients, and their human counterparts. We are here to provide comprehensive and compassionate preventive cat care services, and to help you learn how to provide the best care in every way. Contact us to discuss a preventive cat care regimen for your feline friend, and to schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians today!