One of the important responsibilities of cat parents is to bring their pets to the vet for regular health checks and other important concerns. Cats are experts at hiding any signs of pain and discomfort so much so that it would take a professional and trained eye to detect subtle changes in their health.
How do you know when to take your cat to the vet?
Aside from regular wellness checks, there are other important reasons why cats are brought to a vet clinic. These include dental checks, illness, and medical emergencies. The top reasons why pets see a veterinarian include:
- Issues affecting the gastrointestinal tract -- vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, etc.
- Urinary tract infections
- Skin problems
- Eye problems
- Ear infections
- Lumps and bumps
- Foreign body obstruction
- Allergic reactions
How can you tell if your cat isn't feeling well?
Although cats are well-known for hiding signs of pain so they won’t appear vulnerable to potential predators or any perceived threats, there are tell-tale signs of illness that you should never ignore. These include the following:
- Change in appetite or eating patterns
- Weight changes
- Changes in water intake and urination
- Body discharges from the mouth, nose, eyes, ears, etc.
- Changes in breathing
- Skin irritation
- Excessive shedding
- Increased vocalization
- Changes in personality
- Bad breath (halitosis)
Should I take my cat to the vet for sneezing?
Sneezing is a normal reflex of the body to get rid of irritants in the upper respiratory tract. Thus, an occasional sneeze with no other symptoms is not really a cause for worry. However, if sneezing is accompanied by other symptoms like fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, signs of upper respiratory tract infection, etc. you should seek prompt veterinary attention for your pet immediately.
When to take the cat to vet for vomiting?
A cat that has vomited more than 3 times and is unable to keep food down should be brought to the vet as soon as possible, more so if the cat appears tired and depressed.
How often does a cat need to go to the vet?
Cats benefit from regular wellness checks and dental visits to the vet clinic. Even if your cat appears active and healthy, it is not recommended to skip or keep on postponing these important visits to the vet.
What are pet wellness checks?
“Prevention is always better than cure”, and when you want to take a proactive approach to your pet’s health, regular wellness checks are the way to go. These visits are important opportunities for your pet cat to undergo a complete physical checkup (yes! Your pet will be examined from his whiskers to the tip of his tail). Before your pet’s wellness check, it is a good idea to make a list of concerns that you wish to discuss with your vet.
Annual checkups can also help your kitty get used to visiting the vet clinic and bond with your vet and the clinic staff. Cats need to associate visits to the vet with positive experiences. Cats that are only brought to the vet when they’re ill or hurt can become anxious and nervous, making these visits stressful experiences. So how often does a cat need to go to the vet?
Why do kittens need wellness checks?
Kittens will need more visits to the vet compared to adult cats. These visits are important to keep your kitten’s vaccinations up-to-date. It is also during a kitten’s first year that procedures like microchipping, spaying or neutering are scheduled.
What are vaccinations for kittens?
Vaccination is the best way to protect your pet against specific diseases. There are 2 general types of vaccines for cats -- core and non-core vaccinations.
These vaccines include common and/or particularly serious, life-threatening diseases for which kittens should be vaccinated.
6 weeks old
Feline rhinotracheitis, feline calicivirus, and feline panleukopenia (FVRCP) --this is a combination vaccine
9 weeks old
2nd dose - FVRCP
12 weeks old
3rd dose - FVRCP
15-16 weeks old
4th dose - FVRCP
These vaccinations are not mandatory for all cats, instead, they are only recommended for cats living in high-risk areas. There is also a need to consider the cat’s lifestyle (indoor-only or indoor-outdoor). Non-core vaccinations include:
- Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)
- Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
- Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)
- Feline Giardiasis
- Chlamydophila felis
Wellness Checks of Adult Cats
Veterinarians generally recommend an annual wellness check for adult cats. A thorough physical exam and some basic laboratory tests can help detect the presence of potentially serious health issues before they can become complicated. Adult cats may also need to be given boosters for certain vaccines to maintain the immunity levels of their body against specific diseases. If you have any questions and/or issues about your cat’s care, health, and behavior, wellness checks are the perfect avenue for you to consult your veterinarian.
Senior Cats and Wellness Checks
When cats turn 7 years old, they’re now considered to be in their senior years. Veterinarians usually recommend twice-a-year health checks or more depending on a senior cat’s health status. As their bodies slow down and deteriorate, senior cats are more prone to developing age-related issues and wellness checks are perfect opportunities to spot early symptoms and start appropriate intervention immediately.
Tooth and gum problems are very common in cats, thus the need for regular dental visits. This is a chance for your cat to have his mouth checked for any signs of disease affecting the mouth and its associated structures. If there is an accumulation of plaque and tartar, your vet may find it necessary to put your cat under anesthesia so he can perform specific procedures, such as dental scaling. This will also make it easier to examine your cat’s mouth thoroughly without any fear of being nipped or bitten.
Periodontal disease is not restricted to the mouth only. Bacteria that cause infection in the mouth can enter the bloodstream and reach major organs of the body and cause serious illness.
When to Take Your Cat to the Emergency Vet
Even with regular health and wellness checks, emergencies still occur anytime in a cat’s life. Learning to spot important signs will enable you to seek veterinary attention immediately and save your pet’s life. You should bring your pet to the nearest vet if you notice any of these symptoms exhibited by your cat:
- Sudden changes in your cat’s behavior, such as hiding, lethargy, stops grooming, displays of aggressive behavior, etc.
- Change in appetite and eating habits
- Sudden increase in water intake
- Abnormal urination in male cats
- Frequent urination or increase in urine output
- Lack of urine in the litter box for more than 3 days
- Discolored gums -- bluish (cyanotic) gums may indicate a lack of oxygen in the body, or yellowish gums could be an important symptom of liver disease.
- Mobility problems -- your cat may be favoring a leg or moving strangely.
- Change in litter box habits
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Difficulty breathing
- Not moving or unconscious
- Excessive grooming of their behind
- Seizure or twitching
- If there’s any string or any object hanging out of the cat’s mouth or anus
- Showing signs of pain and distress, such as excessive meowing, hiding, panting, cries out when picked up, etc.
- Sudden paralysis of the hind end