By Dr. Ruth MacPete, DVM Whether healthy or not, all cats should see their veterinarian at lease once a year. Why, you might ask? Why not! We go to our doctor for our regular checkups. We take our kids to their pediatrician for their well-child visits. We don’t like it, but we even go to the dentist twice a year to have our teeth looked at. We even bring our car to the mechanic every 5,000 miles to change the oil. So why should it be any different our feline friends. Regular examinations are the best way to ensure that your cat is protected against preventable illnesses and to detect medical problems early.
Disease Prevention Prevention is key and it all starts with the veterinary visit. Both the Association of Feline Practitioners and the American Association of Animal Hospitals recommend that all cats should have a veterinary examination at least once a year, more frequently for geriatric cats or cats with medical conditions. Regular checkups allow your veterinarian to ensure that your cat is protected against preventable diseases.Vaccinations are sometimes taken for granted, but they are one of the easiest and most important ways to protect your cat from common viruses like calicivirus and panleukopenia, or deadly diseases such as rabies and feline leukemia. Staying up-to-date on routine immunizations is important because it can help prevent your pet from getting sick unnecessarily. Talk to your veterinarian about what vaccinations your particular pet may need. Your veterinarian will also discuss ways to prevent your cat from getting internal and external parasites.
Early Disease Detection In addition to making sure that your cat is protected against preventable diseases, your veterinarian will also check your cat for early signs of disease. While it’s true that no one knows your pet better than you, cats are masters at hiding illness and they can’t tell you when something is wrong. So never skip a checkup because you assume your cat “looks healthy.” Like human patients, cats can develop diseases like diabetes, cancer, kidney conditions, thyroid issues, dental disease, and cardiac disease. During a routine visit, your veterinarian will examine your cat from head to tail look for any changes or abnormalities. How many people actually examine pets regularly? When was the last time you looked inside your cats’s mouth or listened to her heart? Probably never! Even if you did, would you know what to look for? Veterinarians have the training and tools to detect the subtle signs of diseases. Remember the goal of annual examinations is not only to prevent illness, but also to diagnose diseases early. The earlier diseases are discovered, the better the odds are for your cat to be treated successfully. Waiting until your cat becomes ill and shows obvious signs and symptoms of disease before taking them to the veterinarian is not ideal. Treatment is typically more involved and costly when diseases are more advanced. That’s why I believe that bringing your cat to the veterinarian at least once a year is one of the most important things you can do!
Our pets give us so much. They give us unconditional love, laughter, joy, and even improve our overall health. The fact is they give us so much and ask for so little in return. We owe it to them to keep them healthy and safe. Prevention and early detection are the best ways to insure that America’s most popular pets live out their nine lives to the fullest. If your cat hasn’t been to the vet in the last year, call your vet to make an appointment today!