Annual Physical Examination in Cats
Annual physical exams are an important part of providing optimal health care and the best longevity for your beloved companion. Cats age quickly and they are unable to tell us if they are feeling a little off. Remember, it may be one year in your life but that can be about 5-10 comparative years in your cat's life. A lot can change in that much time.
Sometimes, cats can be ill for weeks and you are unaware of it. This may not be from a lack of monitoring or caring; your cat just hides his/her illness until it is so far advanced he has no choice but to show signs of disease.
As a cat reaches middle to old age, annual physical exams become even more important. Certain problems that you may simply attribute to "old age," and just something you will have to live with, may be signs of underling disease and may be very treatable.
A physical examination is not just a chance for your vet to see how cute your cat is; a thorough exam can pick up on a variety of illnesses and prevent potential catastrophic disease. By finding, diagnosing and treating these problems early, your cat will live a much healthier and longer life.
Importance of Recheck Examination in Cats
A recheck examination is an appointment that allows your veterinarian to assess the progress and follow-up on your cat's disease or problem. Maybe you are thinking you can skip it because your cat is doing better? Even if your cat physically looks and feels better, he or she may not be completely back to normal. Some diseases can progress undetected.
The recheck visits to your veterinarian will depend on the medical condition your cat has. If the condition is chronic, they may require life long-term treatment.
Recheck exams are a worthwhile investment in your cat's overall health. By taking your cat in for a "re-check" you are providing your cat the best possible care by allowing his progress to be professionally monitored. By finding, diagnosing and treating these problems early and thoroughly, your cat will live a much healthier and longer life.
Vaccinations have saved the lives of millions of cats. Before the days of effective vaccines, cats routinely died from panleukopenia ("feline distemper") and complications of upper respiratory (herpesvirus, calicivirus) infections. Current vaccination programs also protect our cats (and us) from the threat of rabies. All kittens should receive FVRCP, which is Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and Panleukopenia vaccine and Rabies vaccine. For kittens between 6 and 20 weeks of age, a series of vaccines is recommended. The first set of vaccines should be given when the kitten is 6-8 weeks old, and continue every 3 to 4 weeks until the chance of contracting an infectious disease is very low (typically the last "shot" is given between 16 and 18 weeks of age). A kitten may be lethargic for 1-2 days and show decreased appetite after the vaccinations.
Among the important gastrointestinal parasites of cats are roundworms, hookworms, stomach worms, tapeworms, and microscopic parasites Coccidia, Giardia and Strongyloides species.
How Parasites Are Acquired
- Ingestion of eggs. Most infections are acquired by ingestion of microscopic eggs. This occurs when a cat licks areas where other cats have defecated, like yards, parks or grass.
- At birth. Many kittens are born with intestinal parasites (usually roundworms) that have been passed from the mother, where the parasite was in an encysted, quiet state.
- From intermediate host. Tapeworms are transmitted by an intermediate host when a cat swallows a flea or eats a rabbit.
It should be emphasized that some parasites – especially roundworms and hookworms – can also affect people, especially children. For that reason, it is essential to prevent intestinal parasites in our pets and to treat any resultant infection.
The flea is a small, brown, wingless insect that uses specialized mouth parts to pierce the skin and siphon blood.
When a flea bites your cat, it injects a small amount of saliva into the skin to prevent blood coagulation. Some animals may have fleas without showing discomfort, but an unfortunate number of cats become sensitized to this saliva. In highly allergic animals, the bite of a single flea can cause severe itching and scratching. Fleas cause the most common skin disease of cats – flea allergy dermatitis.
If your pet develops hypersensitivity to flea saliva, several changes may result:
- A small hive may develop at the site of the fleabite, which either heals or develops into a tiny red bump that eventually crusts over.
- The cat may scratch and chew at herself until the area is hairless, raw and weeping serum ("hot spots").
Remember that the flea spends the majority of its life in the environment, not on your pet, so it may be difficult to find. In fact, your cat may continue to scratch without you ever seeing a flea on her. Check your cat carefully for fleas or for signs of flea excrement (also called flea dirt), which looks like coarsely ground pepper. If one cat in the household has fleas, assume that all pets in the household have fleas. A single flea found on your pet means that there are probably hundreds of fleas, larva, pupa and eggs in your house.
Prairie Winds Animal Clinic
#319-3690 Westwinds Drive N.E.
Calgary, AB T3J 5H3