With the love, affection, playfulness, and companionship that your cat or kitten provides comes the responsibility of taking good care of it. Your cat or kitten relies on you for its health and well-being. As part of taking care of your cat or kitten, the following is a short and easy yet very useful mini health exam that you can give your cat or kitten in between visits to your veterinarian. This exam can be performed once a week or once a month as needed.
Make this little home checkup an extension of the normal physical attention you pay your cat and it will not even know that it is being “examined”. It does not matter where you perform the exam, as long as both you and your cat are comfortable. If your cat usually is not allowed on the kitchen table or counter, do not examine it there, as it may be confusing and stressful. A good idea is to do it while you are doing some grooming or petting.
Ears: Gently pull the ear flap slightly up and back, and look at the inner surface and down into the ear canal. The ears should be clean and light pink in color. Any discharge, redness, swelling or odor is abnormal. A very dark residue may indicate earmites. Do not attempt to clean your cat’s ears, improper or incorrect cleaning can worsen an ear condition or even cause trauma or infection. If anything looks or smells really bad, a visit to the vet will be necessary.
Eyes: With your cat facing you, examine the eyes. The eyes should be bright and clear (not cloudy or dirty), and the pupils should be of equal size. There should be little if any tearing at the corners of the eyes. Any more discharge from the eyes is abnormal. Gently roll down the lower eyelid a little bit with your thumb. The inner linings should be pink, not white or red.
Mouth and nose: With your cat facing you, gently raise the lips with your fingers to examine the gums and teeth. The gums should be pink, not white or red, and should show no signs of swelling or bleeding. The teeth should be clean, without any brownish tartar. Smell your cat’s breath. Although most cats do not have good breath, a strong and offensive odor is abnormal and may indicate a problem. Excessive drooling can also be a sign of oral disease. Finally make sure there is not a discharge from the nose, which can indicate a problem to be checked out.
Skin and coat: While petting your cat, feel around for any unusual bumps, lumps, scabs, swellings, or sensitive areas. The coat should be full and glossy, and should be free of bald spots, matted areas, and sores. If you need to cut off some hopelessly matted hair, be sure to used blunt-tipped scissors, or take the cat to a professional groomer or your vet. Also check the cat’s fur for fleas and ticks, usually visible as black flecks.
Important rear end check: With your cat facing away from you gently lift the tail and take a look at its rear end. Use a moist paper towel to clean away any feces or other dirty material. If you see yellowish or tan objects about the size of rice grains, these are most likely packets of tapeworm eggs, and this requires treatment!
Ribs and weight: If your cat seems to be bonier, this is a sign of weight loss. Watch for changes in your cat’s eating or sleeping habits, and let your vet know of your findings if you feel they are significant enough.
Breathing: If your cat’s breathing is loud, labored, or wheezing, this is not a good sign.
Litter box: If you see any mucous, blood, worms, or anything else unusual in the litter box, this is definitely a problem.
If your examination reveals any of these problems, consult your vet as soon as possible. Remember that this mini health exam is not meant to be a substitution your vet’s professional examination and consultation. Your cat should be given a complete professional physical examination at least once a year. Your vet will be checking things like temperature, pulse, actual weight, respirations, lymph nodes, vision, hearing, blood pressure, muscle tone, and more. With the combination of your vet’s annual or semi-annual complete physical examination, and your own weekly or monthly mini health exam, you can help ensure that your cat’s health problems are detected before they start to cause obvious disease.
If you have any questions regarding the health and care of cats and kittens, just ask us and we will help you any way we can.
Tags: Cats & Kittens