Hi, I'm Dr. Cherry Douglas from Village Square Veterinary Clinic in Boyton beach, Florida. Today I'd like to talk to you about cat wellness and keeping your cat healthy and thriving in their life with you.
Cherry Douglas, DVM
Village Square Vet Clinic
What does a veterinarian look for when we do wellness in cats? Cats are unique creatures, and we have a lot that we need to look at with these guys. We want them to be happy, playful, healthy, and eating and doing everything they're supposed to do. In order to do that, though, we really need to see them. The best way to find things early is by doing a full exam nose to tail and then doing annual blood work, or maybe even semi-annual, depending on your kitty's age. Getting our hands on them so that we can feel, palpate, look at and evaluate everything that's going on with their bodies and their organs with the blood work and intestinal screens are the best way for us to know how your cat is doing. We're going to look at their ears, eyes, nose, and mouth, and we're going to evaluate their heart and lungs and make sure that they're nice and clear. We're going to feel their bellies to ensure that there are no masses in there and that we can feel the kidneys and things like that. We're going to look under and examine the tail. We're going to look at their feet and the skin to see if they are over-grooming or under-grooming. Do they have flea dirt? Things like that. Looking at your kitty is the most important part of annual wellness and keeping your kitty healthy.
Then the next thing is blood work because blood work will tell us how the inside of your kidney is doing. Do they have good kidney and liver function? Are they anemic? Are they having any elevated white blood cell counts? Do they have any thyroid issues? And then, of course, urine and stool checks are also a part of the annual wellness. As your kitty gets older, it's important to do it at least yearly, if not twice a year. Twice a year, if they have any issues, and maybe even more frequently, depending on the issue. The earlier we check these things, the earlier we find these diseases and these issues, such as hyperthyroidism, heart disease, elevated blood pressure, kidney disease, or liver disease, the more likely we can address them and hopefully get them back on track to being healthy and well-managed.
Some things can be cured, some things can't, but if we have the opportunity to manage them and take care of them, we want to be able to do that because that's going to give them the best chance for long life with you. As far as bringing in your cat for a wellness exam goes, we understand that that can be difficult. It can be challenging to get them in a carrier, drive them in the car, get them here, and get them out of the carrier in the exam room. All of that can be very challenging. It can be stressful for you. It can be stressful for the kitty. So we do have some things that we like to recommend for cats. Things like Feliway. There's a Feliway spray, a pheromone that is the same as what cats use that gives them that smell of calmness versus anxiety. Using the Feliway on their carrier or in the room they're in can often help them to be a little bit calmer. There are also medications. Gabapentin has been found to work wonders in kitties that get very stressed about coming to the veterinarian. We only have to do it when they come. It's really very safe.
The hard part is getting it in them because, again, you have to medicate the cat, but I'm telling you it's well worth it because they will have a much better experience, you will have a much better experience, and we will have a much better experience. Some of the symptoms we want you to look for in a cat that may not be feeling well includes them sleeping more, maybe not eating well or not eating as much as they normally do, and not lying in the places that they typically would lie. Normally they like to lie in the sunbeam on the floor, but now they're hiding in the closet. That's a very different thing. Even though they might be lying down in both locations, they are not the same. Are they using the litter box, or are they not? Are their urine spots the same amount and size that they normally are? The same with their stools. Do they look consistently the same? How are they acting with you? Normally they're friendly, and now they're avoiding you and hiding when you come home. Those are the things you want to watch for.
Anything you think is out of the ordinary is a good sign for you to bring them to the vet. You want to make sure that you're feeding your kitty good quality cat food and that they have access to fresh water. Just know that some cats really like wet food, other cats really like dry food, and some will do both, but some are very preferential. Some cats like water out of a bowl, and some want it in a faucet or a fountain. You need to know what your cat likes and their preference so that you can provide it in the way that they like it and will take it in. The better we can watch and take care of our kitties, bring them in, do the preventions for them, and monitor their health status inside and out, the better we can do for them.
I know many of us think that because they're cats and are inside most of the time, they probably don't need much attention, but they really do. They need attention just like anybody else because a lot of factors can happen that you don't know, that you don't see, and that can still cause problems with our kitties. Sometimes, even more so than dogs because they are inside all the time, and there may be other factors that you're not aware of, like outdoor cats, you being out longer than usual, and other things that may stress them out. There may be things that predispose them to an underlying issue, like plants in your home, the plugins for perfumes, and things that can irritate the respiratory tract. So definitely keep an eye on your kitty. If you notice anything, bring them in, but make sure you bring them in at least once a year, if not twice a year, as they get older so that we can check on them and see them from head to toe and make sure they're nice and healthy so they can live as long as we can possibly get them to live.
If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (561) 369-0061, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.