Taking your cat to the vet for routine physical exams annually is essential to the health of your feline companion because your vet has the chance to detect any health issues early or prevent them from arising in the first place. Today, our Lafayette vets share the ways you can prepare your cat for their routine annual wellness examination.
Your Cat's Annual Physical Checkup
You know that you should be bringing your beloved kitty to the vet annually for their routine wellness exam so your vet can assess the overall physical health of your feline friend. This is also important for indoor cats that appear to be healthy.
However, there are times when cat owners encounter obstacles in taking their cat to see the vet as often as they should, such as financial worries, getting your kitty into their crate to be transported, or getting them to co-operate with the vet. Thankfully, our experienced veterinarians at St. Francis Veterinary Hospital can provide you with advice on how to overcome these common challenges to ensure your cat gets the healthcare they require and deserve.
Before You Start
Some of our clients hesitate to bring their cats in since their feline friend seems healthy and they have financial concerns about paying for routine veterinary care. If this is true for you, discuss payment options with your vet or opt for only the most essential exam services.
Remember that detecting health problems early or preventing them from occurring can help you save money long-term.
Occasionally, cat owners ask us how to get their kitty into their cage, since they may become aggressive, fearful, anxious, or stressed when the time comes to be transported to the vet's office. Many stressed-out cats have caused their owners to delay scheduling needed veterinary visits, but it doesn't have to be this way. You might try taking a deep breath, calmly approach your kitty and give lots of soothing pets and treats. They may mirror your state when they pick up on your calmer, more relaxed attitude. A different crate or carrier may also relieve their fears. Be sure to maintain your calm demeanor throughout your entire trip to the vet.
What You'll Require
To lower the stress of both you and your feline companion, you may want to consider making a list of the items you will need to have ready for your scheduled veterinary appointment. These items could include:
- Cat crate or carrier
- Stool sample for a fecal exam
- Previous vaccination records (if administered by a different vet)
- Your cat's medical history and list of health concerns
At The Exam
When you first arrive for your cat's exam, your kitty will usually be weighed by a veterinary assistant or vet tech before taking your cat's temperature with a rectal thermometer. You may be asked to help by holding your cat steady during this process.
Bring Your Cat's Medical History
Your veterinarian will conduct a head-to-tail comprehensive physical examination and provide you with the opportunity to discuss any questions, behavioral problems, or health concerns you may have about your kitty. Remember that cats won't often act like themselves when they aren't feeling well. The vet will be able to help eliminate possible underlying causes for your cat's behavior. Some common signs of illness that cats often develop include cloudy eyes, skin inflammation, or even a disheveled coat. Their nostrils might also be congested. If your kitty has a dental health problem or periodontitis, the vet might spot signs in their teeth or gums, and ear infections could cause inflammation or redness. Parasites could make your cat fatigued and, depending on the parasite, cause a bloated abdomen, visible bites on the body, and more.
The vet will also examine the feet and claws, as damage or cuts can sometimes go unnoticed by even the most conscientious owner. The anus and glands will even be checked for potential signs of impaction or infection.
Finally, your veterinarian will carefully examine your cat's internal organs by palpating fingers to feel for any signs of swelling, bumps, lumps, or other abnormalities.
Diagnostic Laboratory Tests
Depending on what the needs of your cat are, your vet might conduct a series of lab tests to establish a baseline for your kitty's usual health to make it easier to find changes during your feline's future veterinary visits. These tests often consist of a:
- Fecal exam
- Blood chemistry panel
- Urinalysis (UA)
- Complete Blood Count (CBC)
Make Sure Your Cat Is Up to Date on Their Core Vaccines
You'll also need to ensure all of your cat's recommended vaccinations are up to date. Our vets are experienced at giving vaccinations and can usually get this task done while distracting animals as they receive their injections, so your cat may not notice the needle entering their skin. The vet may also ask you to help hold your cat, as your familiar, voice and gentle touch may be calming.
Since even housecats can escape outdoors where they may encounter potential dangers, vaccinations are important. They are also key to keeping any other animals and members of your household safe from parasites and diseases. We recommend having your cat vaccinated against:
- Feline herpesvirus
- Feline calicivirus
Preventing Problems During Your Cat's Exam
Lots of cats get anxious when they see a carrier because they know what happened when it appears, they'll probably have to leave the home or go to the vet. Provide your cat with some time to get accustomed to their carriers or crate by setting it on the floor and putting a few of your kitty's favorite treats inside. This gives your cat the opportunity to explore the carrier before you both have to leave for your appointment. Let your cat enter the carrier by themselves and don't force them to go in.
Car rides can also be stressful for some cats. Help keep your furry friend calm by bringing catnip, a blanket, and lots of yummy treats with you. Wait until you're ready to leave before placing the carrier in your vehicle.
Carefully Follow Your Vet's Recommendations
Once your cat's physical exam is over, your veterinarian will go over their findings with you and give you any medications your kitty may require such as treatment for illnesses, infections, or parasites. You will also be given the results of your cat's lab tests, usually by phone several days after your appointment. You'll also have the opportunity to schedule any follow-up appointments that may be needed.
Ask your vet any questions you may have, even if you think of them after leaving your appointment. You may not even need to come back to the office as we are able to answer many questions with a simple phone conversation. A trusting relationship with your vet is key to ensuring your cat lives a long, happy life.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.