National Cat Health Month

Cats are becoming a favorite pet for Americans, catching up to the long standing favorite dogs. They cuddle on our lap, purr and soothe us when we are tired or sad, provide hours of hilarious antics, and still maintain an aloof demeanor to remind us we are not always the boss of everything. Yet, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, as much as Americans love their cats, barely half of them ever make it in for regular health care. They remain unprotected against contagious diseases, parasites, aging and inherited illness.

Cats Vs Vets

There are reasons owners are reluctant to bring cats to their veterinarian. Cats don't like going out of their normal enviroment. They fight going in carriers. They cry travelling in the car. They struggle against owners and staff during examinations. They go hide; they don't socialize after they are back home. Owners find the whole process frustrating and distressing. That being said, allowing a cat to skip yearly exams is playing roulette with its health. Cats instinctively hide their illness, a behavior left over from an undomesticated existence to protect themselves against predators. As such, when they are not well, an owner might not notice anything. The disease can do permanent damage before the cat shows signs anything is wrong.

Cat services at Pleasant Hill

What to expect

When you bring your pet in to see your veterinarian, he or she will check several things. A yearly exam will start with a check for oral disease including loose painful teeth, inflamed gums, and unusual growths. These can appear in any cat at any age and may have no obvious symptoms the pet owner can see at home. Contiuing the exam, the veterinarian will look in the eyes and ear canals, nasal openings, check the lymph nodes for signs of hidden infection. Your veterinarian will listen to the heart and lungs for evidence of murmurs, abnormal heart rhythms, and wheezes or crackles showing early heart disease, asthma or lung disease. The internal organs of the abdomen are felt for swelling and proper shape and texture. The musculature and skeleton is inspected for arthritis, and loss or gain of mass indicating hidden disease, or a need for a change in feeding habits. The skin is inspected for masses or signs of irritation, possibly indicating allergies, infection, or parasites.

If the kitty is more than a certain age, usually around 7-9 yrs old, blood work will be reccomended to check for normal organ function, especially kidney, liver, thyroid and pancreas. Failure or disease of these organs is very common in middle aged to older cats. Left untreated they lead to secondary problems like blindness, weight loss, weakness, and a rapid decline in overall well-being. If caught earlier, many of these conditions can be managed with inexpensive medications and diet changes. Top veterinarian for cat services

There are tricks to make the visit less stressful. The owner can leave the carrier out at home all the time, regularly putting treats in it, so the kitty doesn't associate it with the fear of travel. Calming pheremones and catnip can be put in the carrier on cotton balls and with toys to help with the car ride. Many animal hospitals have rooms dedicated to seeing and treating cats to reduce the smells that give a negative association. Some very stressed kitties benefit from sedation and gas anesthesia during procedures like having their blood drawn and getting radiographs ( X-Rays). They go from awake... to asleep ...to awake and never know anything was done. Current anesthetics are very safe, and even sick cats or old cats will almost always tolerate a brief sedation without incident.

The life expectancy of cats used to be around 13 to 15 years old. Now we routinely see kitties living into their late teens and twenties. Many are thriving and living comfortable lives with a good diet and good control of their health concerns. If you find bringing your cat to the veterinarian difficult, please call their office. The excellent staff can offer many suggestions to make the trip in easier and less stressful for all involved. Your cat's life might depend on it.

If your cat is ready for their first or next visit, we are here for you. Contact us to make your next appointment.