It can be easy to think of cats as low-maintenance pets compared to dogs - they don’t need to be let out to go to the bathroom or taken on walks, and many cats keep to themselves around the house. However, this relative independence does not mean that they don’t need annual wellness visits! Cats face many of the same health concerns as dogs, as well as some concerns that are cat-specific and can be serious emergencies. Cats are also very good at hiding illness from their owners.
Various health concerns differently impact indoor-only cats, cats who only visit their yard or patio, and cats that spend a great deal of time outdoors. Weight-related issues, exposure to bacteria, viruses, and disease, and injuries from other animals outside the home are just a few examples.
Some indoor cats may gain weight due to a tendency towards long cat-naps, little exercise, and easy access to an ever-present bowl of food. Some other indoor cats may find shoelaces and rubber bands delicious, and need medical intervention to remove such items from the stomach or intestines, where they can otherwise become stuck. Male cats can develop urethral blockages, making urination difficult and painful, if not impossible. This condition is an emergency that may require surgery to resolve, and is fatal if untreated.
Outdoor cats are prone to injuries from other animals, like bite wounds that may abscess and require medical treatment. Bites from other outdoor cats and wild animals can transmit diseases such as FIV, Feline Leukemia, and rabies; exposure to the waste of birds and other outdoor animals can cause illness. Outdoor cats are also exposed to temperature and weather extremes which can be dangerous.
Aside from the hazards mentioned above, cats can be prone to kidney and thyroid issues, diabetes, and heart disease. Imagine that your young adult cat has an exam at 1 year of age, but is not seen again until 10 years of age. That is equal to a human seeing the doctor at age 15, and again at age 56! When thought of in those terms, it is easy to realize just how important regular checkups are for cats, to ensure good health and catch any minor issues before they turn into major ones. Remember, cats tend to hide symptoms of illness until their situation has become serious, which makes annual wellness visits even more important.
We think it’s “paw”-some to help you enjoy as many good years as possible with your favorite feline. If we haven’t seen your cat lately, give us a call!