It’s that time of year again – time for the annual pet checkup! You go into stealth mode and creep up on your unsuspecting cat sleeping in the sun beam and pounce on him. With your other hand, you pull open the door to the carrier and use every body part you have available to stuff your cat into a doorway that has clearly been designed for an animal with less limbs and flexibility than your cat. Next comes the lovely road trip listening to your cat sing songs of woes and unhappiness.
Or maybe your cat is one of those social butterflies who loves to visit the vet and go for car rides.
Whatever the situation may be, the excitement or exhaustion of just getting your cat to the vet is enough to make you forget all the things that have been puzzling you about your cat in the past 12 months.
During the vet exam, your veterinarian will be asking you a series of questions focused on your cats overall health, but they might not broach the topics that are of more interest to you. Here is a list of 5 questions to ask your vet at your next annual pet checkup:
1. Why does my cat do that?
That quirky thing your cat does that she has always done for as long as you can remember – like vomiting after eating too fast, peeing on your shoes when you leave the house for too long, licking her belly so much she becomes bald there, or crying all night to a full moon.
What you think is quirky and not worth mentioning might be a key bit of information for your veterinarian. Your pet may be suffering from allergies, stress or pain, among many other ailments.
2. What should I feed my pet?
Your cat should be eating a well balanced feline specific diet. Look for the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) guarantee on the label. AAFCO has a list of standards that pet food companies can formulate their foods to adhere to in order to have the label on their products. The next thing you should consider is the life stage of your pet – young, old, active, indoors only, etc. Last thing to consider is that the price of the bag does not necessarily reflect the quality of ingredients. Expensive does not mean high quality.
3. Is my cat an appropriate weight?
I like to ask clients to point to where they think their cat belongs on the scale of underweight to overweight. Over half of them get it wrong. An important thing to remember is there is no general “ideal weight” for cats. We measure the body fat index, or how your cat carries it’s body mass based on its skeleton shape and size. Using these measurements, each individual cat will have its own specific ideal weight.
4. When should my cat have bloodwork?
Any time you are introducing a new cat to the house, you should do a screening blood test for FeLV/FIV as those are diseases that can be passed on to the existing cats in the house. Likewise, if your cat is starting a new medication or showing signs of illness, bloodwork is always important. Once your cat reaches 7 years of age, yearly bloodwork can help detect early signs of kidney degeneration or other biochemical imbalances. These same tests can be done twice yearly after your cat becomes 12 years old.
5. How often does my cat need a veterinary checkup?
You may believe that your indoor cat who seems pretty healthy does not need to have a vet exam. Just like the conversation I have with my clients who think their cat is an appropriate weight, their perception of healthy May also be incorrect. Your cat should have a yearly vet examination. Veterianrians are trained to detect the subtle changes that cats show when they are unwell. We can spot signs of pain and unthriftiness. We measure their weight and look at their teeth. Most cats need a dental cleaning by the time they are 3-5yrs old. They are susceptible to early arthritis or developing diabetes if they are overweight. Your Veterinarian can make a weight management plan, discuss dental health or address behavioural problems before it gets to the point where things become very expensive to fix.