Cats are highly skilled at hiding illness and disease, making veterinary exams critical to maintain their optimal health. Over the course of your cat’s life, their needs will change as they grow and develop, and become susceptible to certain illnesses as they age. But, routine preventive care can help protect your feline friend from a plethora of preventable illnesses or diseases that prompt detection and treatment can mitigate. Follow your cat’s development through their various life stages, to learn how veterinary care is necessary for a healthy, happy feline.
Veterinary care during the kitten years
Your kitten will experience rapid growth and development during their first six months of life. Use this time wisely to form a foundation for routine veterinary care, handling, grooming, and positive socialization with people, pets, and places. As you and your kitten visit Stone Ridge Veterinary Medical Center – Willis for a kitten wellness series, you will become familiar with our team while you learn the basics of keeping your cat in tip-top shape.
During your kitten’s routine preventive care appointments, we will cover the following essentials:
- Physical exam — Our veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical exam, which is one of the most important aspects of your kitten’s veterinary care, to check them for any apparent health problems. Kittens—especially stray kittens—commonly have ear mites, fleas, upper respiratory infections, and intestinal parasites, but they may also have congenital issues that need addressing.
- Proper socialization — Although your kitten has likely outgrown the prime socialization period of two to seven weeks, learning appropriate interactions can be a lifelong process. We’ll offer tips on how to accustom your kitten to handling, grooming, and traveling in their carrier.
- Diet and nutrition — Your kitten will grow incredibly fast, and require proper nutrition to grow strong and healthy. We’ll discuss what to look for in an appropriate kitten diet.
- Exercise and play — Correct outlets for exercise and play are essential, to avoid rough biting and scratching. We’ll show you how to properly play with your kitten, and suggest exercises that will keep your pet at an ideal weight.
- Parasite screening and prevention — Many kittens suffer from intestinal parasites passed down from their mother, and require routine fecal exams and deworming during their first few months.
- Infectious disease screening and prevention — Kittens can contract infectious diseases from their mother’s milk, so before you introduce your new pet to your current cats, we will screen them for infectious diseases, such as feline leukemia and FIV. We’ll also administer lifestyle- and age-appropriate vaccinations, to ensure your kitten remains protected from disease.
- Dental care — Many cats suffer from dental disease by age 3, so we will help you start your kitten’s oral health care program.
- Spaying or neutering — A spayed or neutered cat is a healthier, happier cat. We’ll recommend the best age to spay or neuter your feline friend, to avoid unwanted pregnancies and naughty behaviors.
- Claw care and declawing alternatives — Kittens are notoriously mischievous, and many owners may be tempted to declaw their curtain-climber. However, many declawing alternatives can help you and your frisky feline coexist in peace, without removing an essential natural behavior.
Veterinary care during the adult cat years
Many of your kitten’s veterinary care needs carry over to their adult years, such as thorough physical exams, diet discussions, parasite screening and prevention, and vaccination administration. As your cat enters adulthood, we’ll focus more on staving off preventable issues by performing the following tasks:
- Dental care — Since many cats suffer from dental disease by age 3, we may need to perform a dental cleaning on your cat if plaque and tartar accumulate. We’ll also suggest ways to care for your cat’s oral health at home, to lengthen the time between dental cleanings.
- Baseline blood work — As your cat ages, we will closely monitor organ function with routine blood work, first to obtain normal values, and then to compare each year’s results to the baseline, searching for inconsistencies. By detecting changes early, we can more easily treat or manage disease.
Veterinary care during your cat’s senior years
As your feline friend enters their golden years, we add more diagnostic testing to their wellness plan, to ensure we spot any illness early. In addition to a kitten or adult cat’s typical preventive care, your senior cat will also benefit from these in-house diagnostic tests:
- Urinalysis — Kidney disease is a common affliction of older cats, and monitoring your pet’s kidney function and urine concentration can provide a jump on kidney disease, preserving function for longer.
- Thyroid testing — Another relatively common ailment of senior cats is hyperthyroidism, whose signs include weight loss, a voracious appetite, and nausea.
- Blood pressure testing — While cats’ blood pressure can be high simply because they left home, hypertension can create serious problems, such as retinal detachment, and is commonly seen in conjunction with other diseases.
Remember—you may not always notice your cat’s illness, since they’re masters at hiding injury or disease. The best method for detecting illness and keeping your pet healthy is through routine wellness care.
Is your feline friend due for their annual or biannual wellness exam? Don’t delay—call us to schedule an appointment to evaluate your pet’s health status, and protect them from illness and disease.