Often we associate a trip to the veterinarian as something only required when your cat becomes unwell, however, is also important to remember that visiting your cat on an annual basis is equally important for your cat’s well-being and longevity.
There is much debate over the necessity of annual booster shots. Some veterinarians still recommend it, some don’t believe it is necessary to vaccinate that often. Owners who choose to vaccinate less frequently may forget the importance of still taking their cat to the vet once a year.
During your visit, your veterinarian will look at and discuss:
- Dental examination
- Skin and coat, general condition and lumps and bumps
- Ears and eyes
- Parasite control
- Musculoskeletal exam
Your veterinarian will ask if you have any questions, this is a good time to discuss any concerns you have or ask questions on health, diet, parasite control and general cat care.
Cats 7 years and older require a veterinary examination at least once a year, twice a year is even better. With regular visits to the veterinarian, any age-related conditions can be picked up early and treated. Many diseases afflicting older cats can’t be cured but they can be managed and the earlier they are picked up, the better.
Some tests your veterinarian may wish to perform, (especially on older cats) include:
These tests will provide your veterinarian with a good profile of your cat’s overall health and can help to diagnose age-related diseases early. More specific tests may be required if the above tests show any abnormalities.
It is just as important that pet owners pay attention to their cat between visits which can help to pick up medical issues early.
- Excessive thirst and urination
- Increase or decrease in eating habits
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Changes in behaviour
- Any lumps or bumps
- Bad breath
- Cough laboured breathing or shortness of breath
- Increase in temperature, pulse or breathing rate
- Changes in litter box habits. Constipation, diarrhea, frequent urination, straining to go to the toilet, blood in feces
- Abnormal discharges containing pus or blood. These often have an offensive odour. Keep an out for discharges from the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, penis or vagina
Prompt veterinary attention should be sought if you notice any of the above symptoms.
Preventive care at home
There are certainly ways to ensure your cat stays in peak condition for as long as possible. These include:
- Feeding a good quality, nutritious diet.
- Dental care, either with regular brushing or feeding raw chicken necks two to three times a week.
- Maintaining proper flea and worm control.
- Keep a close eye on your cat’s general wellbeing and seek veterinary advice as soon as you notice changes. Not only would these include obvious signs of sickness such as injury etc., but also indicators such as a change in eating or litter box habit, unkempt coat, general lethargy, change in behaviour.
- Be aware of your cat’s weight.
It cannot be emphasised enough how important it is to remember regular check-ups with the veterinarian, even if your cat appears well. Many vets offer a reminder service, which is something you can discuss with them.
Frequently asked questions
How much does an annual veterinary visit cost?
This can vary from vet to vet, but a basic health check ranges from $70 to $100. There are additional costs for bloodwork.
Do indoor cats still need an annual wellness check?
Yes, all cats should see a veterinarian at least once a year. Even indoor cats can develop common cat diseases including cancer, arthritis, dental problems, hyperthyroidism and diabetes.