Does Your Cat Really Need an Annual Exam?

 By Deborah Carlson, DVM, Head of Pilchuck’s Cat Care Center

You receive a reminder postcard from the veterinarian: Kitty is due for his annual exam. Your heart races, your palms sweat – and you remember how difficult it was to get your cat from under the bed and into his carrier for the last trip.

You look at your cat; he appears healthy and happy. His vaccines aren’t due, and you wonder if it really is necessary to take him for his annual exam. The answer is a resounding … YES!

Why? Your cat will age, on average, five to 10 times faster than you. And cats are notorious for hiding signs of illness. During an annual exam, your kitty’s veterinarian will screen your cat for:

1) Parasites. Fleas can carry deadly organisms that can be passed to your cat. Outdoor cats can become infected with intestinal parasites from hunting. Studies have shown that potting soil may contain roundworm eggs, so your indoor-only cat may be susceptible to intestinal parasites as well. There are several safe, effective products available to keep your cat parasite-free.

2) Dental disease. Cats can develop dental tartar and painful resorptive lesions as early as 3 years of age. Untreated dental disease can lead to tooth loss, mouth pain, infection, heart disease and kidney disease.

3) Obesity. Overweight cats are at risk for diabetes, heart disease, skin infections, joint disease and arthritis. Prescription weight-loss diets are available.

4) Geriatric diseases. Hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, arthritis, heart disease and cancer are common in cats over 8 years of age. Your veterinarian may recommend diagnostic tests to better assess your cat’s overall health. Early detection and treatment are crucial to helping your cat live a long, happy, pain-free life.

Remember: While he may not exactly thank you for the trip to the veterinarian, your kitty will reward your efforts to keep him healthy by offering you unconditional love for many years to come.

Dr. Carlson heads Pilchuck’s Cat Care Center, the only such center in Snohomish County. The Center is designed to make veterinary appointments as stress-free as possible for feline patients and their people. Features include a separate entrance and waiting area for cats, and a feline-only exam room away from other rooms, to prevent noise and scents from dogs that can create anxiety for feline patients.

Pilchuck small-animal appointments: 360.568.3113. 24/7 emergency care available. Located at 11308 92nd Street SE, Snohomish.