If you own a cat (or they own you), you know how fiercely independent they can be. Indeed, their curiosity and independence are some of the characteristics we love best about them. But behind their unique personalities lies an important secret: it can be sometimes hard to know if your cat is healthy or not.
Although it may seem as if our cats can and do take care of themselves, in reality, cats need our attention and care in order to thrive. Never is the adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” more true than when considering preventive care for our pets. Preventing disease is not only easier on your cat, it is also easier on your wallet than treatment.
Here, Brodie Animal Hospital takes a look at the importance of preventive care for cats.
The reason it can be hard to know if your cat is sick has to do with their survival strategy. In the wild, cats who are perceived as weak can become a target for predators. So, they’ve evolved to be very good at hiding signs of pain and discomfort, even from their closest people.
This is another reason why regular wellness exams are so important, even for seemingly healthy cats.
What is Preventive Care for Cats?
Preventive care revolves around these regularly scheduled exams. Cats age faster than humans, and so they need to see their doctor more often than we see ours.
A 2 year old cat is the equivalent of a 25 year old in human years, and after that, cats age about 4 years for each human year. This rapid aging process highlights the importance of preventive care for cats.
The Nitty Gritty
In veterinary medicine, there are healthy guidelines that had been established for preventive care for cats. The American Animal Hospital Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association have developed standardized guidelines to ensure that cats get the best care possible. Here are their recommendations:
Medical history – your first hand account of your cat’s behavior at home gives your veterinarian a valuable peek into their health. You may be asked about your cat’s eating and drinking, whether they go outside, their litter box habits, and their general demeanor and behavior.
Physical examination – even healthy cats need to be examined at least once per year and preferably twice. A comprehensive physical exam can uncover hidden problems before they become advanced disease, including enlarged lymph nodes, masses in the abdomen, gum disease, heart murmurs, and arthritis. It’s an important tool in assessing the health of your cat.
Diagnostic testing – because we can’t look inside your cat during a physical exam, testing is needed on a regular basis to discover internal diseases such as heart, liver or kidney disease, diabetes, infectious disease, hormonal imbalances, and many forms of cancer.
Dental care – simply put, dental disease is painful for your cat and can shorten her life. It has been shown that by the time cats are 3 years of age, over 85% have some form of dental disease. The bacteria that cause dental disease can affect not only your cat’s mouth but their internal organs as well. Regular dental exams and dental cleanings is a wonderful way to improve the quality, and length, of your cat’s life.
Parasite control and prevention – fleas, ticks, heartworms and internal parasites all affect cats. Annual fecal examination for parasite eggs is recommended, as is monthly preventives to spare your cat (and you!) from dealing with parasites. These preventives are tailored to your cat’s lifestyle, and are safe, effective, and inexpensive compared to treatment.
Vaccination – vaccines are crucial to prevent infectious disease. A vaccine program will be tailored to your cat based on her age, health, and lifestyle.
Nutrition and weight management – studies show that lean cats live healthier and longer lives. Your veterinarian can determine your cat’s body condition score and help you start or maintain a weight management program that includes dietary and exercise recommendations.
Our cat’s can’t talk, so it’s our responsibility to make sure they get the preventive care they need. The importance of preventive care for cats cannot be overstated. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us.