It is a common myth that indoor cats “do not get sick.” Cats age at a faster rate than humans and generally should see their doctors more frequently. If we get annual blood work, for example, it is compared to your cat getting an annual every 4-5 years if you are only bringing your cat to the veterinary clinic once yearly.
A preventative health care plan should involve regular exams to maintain optimum health. An exam as outlined by the CVO, AAHA, and AVMA focus on the preventative health of your cat and recommendations include:
- History: A detailed description of home life, any concerns, or changes in overall demeanour.
- Examination: Allows for your veterinarian to detect any abnormalities by doing a detailed assessment of your pet from head to toe.
- Testing: Annual fecal testing to ensure your pet did not pick up any intestinal parasites, FIV and FeLV screening at least once in their life, blood work and urinalysis to detect organ malfunctions in the early stages.
- Dental Care: Ideally brushing daily at home can help prevent dental disease but on average, cats need a prophylactic dental every 1-2 years. Bacteria in the mouth can enter the bloodstream and affect organs, and under anesthetic, dental radiographs can help assess periodontal disease.
- Parasite Prevention: A protocol should be developed for each individual for heartworm, an intestinal parasite, and flea/tick prevention for both indoor and outdoor cats.
- Immunizations: Healthy cats usually receive rabies and FVRCP which are classified as core vaccines. The Feline Leukemia vaccine is a non-core vaccine, and if your cat is at risk, then they should be vaccinated.
- Weight Maintenance: Research shows leaner cats live longer with fewer health problems. Your veterinarian will assign your pet a body condition score and plan for dietary needs and exercise plan as needed.
- Spaying or Neutering: Surgery to remove reproductive organs can have numerous health and behaviour benefits, which may prevent certain infections and cancers.
Cats have an innate survival instinct to hide their illnesses, so clinical signs may not be easily monitored at home. Preventative medicine is the best approach to diagnose problems in the early stages, when treatment is more successful and in turn, will give your cat a healthier, longer life.
Written by Briarwood Animal Hospital