Whether you're a brand new cat owner, or you've had cats in your family for generations, it's still a quandary over how often your tabby should see the Veterinarian.
There's a host of reasons not to go; topping the list is the half day effort it takes to lure your poor kitty into his travel crate. But nothing is more anxiety inducing than worrying that you're being a neglectful cat parent and making your fur buddy rely on their nine lives to stay healthy.
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A search online can spook a cat owner and quickly have them convinced that "daily" is the proper frequency for seeing the vet. Fortunately, we were able to sit down with Senta Edesa Belding DVM, a veterinarian at Pet Medical Center Chatoak, to help us get down to brass tacks about how often cats should go to the vet.
How often should cats visit the Veterinarian?
"Yearly, until they are geriatric (14 plus year) then every 6 months after that."
What is the most common false alarms you see? Are there normal cat behaviors that are mistaken as ailments by new cat owners?
"Not drinking much water. Cats were originally desert animals and conserve water well. (Beyond that) cats don't have many false alarms. Normal cat behaviors (include) running around like a maniac with eyes dilated and fur puffed out. Mounting other cats (even males), and gripping the other cat's neck with their teeth."
Conversely, what are some of the most common symptoms requiring medical attention that cat owners often overlook?
"Weight loss. Weight loss is always abnormal. Even geriatric cats should maintain their weight. (Until they are very old like 18+.) I recommend weighing one's cat regularly. Weigh yourself holding the cat, then reweigh only yourself and subtract that from your combined weight to get an estimate of your cat's weight. A downward weight trend should prompt a veterinary visit and lab work as the initial workup."
What can cat owners do to help keep their cat healthy?
"At least annual vet visits (many people assume that if their cat looks good they don't need an annual exam. This is not true.) Keeping your cat indoors only, especially if you live in an area where cars go by quickly or there are coyotes. Feeding a premium grain free diet. Make sure there is plenty of fresh water changed daily. Consider looking at your indoor cat's initiative to get ideas for environmental enrichment. Remember that many cats prefer being the only cat in the household ie don't assume they need a buddy. Unless they grow up as kittens together most adult cats don't appreciate a new arrival."
As for what to expect during your vet visit, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, states "your veterinarian will likely run a few tests to determine that your new cat is free from disease." In addition to testing for these diseases, your veterinarian will probably also analyze a fecal sample to test for intestinal parasites and check your cat for external parasites, which are the most common cause of skin disorders.
All in all, if your kitty appears healthy and you are providing them with healthy food, clean water, a safe clean environment, mental stimulation, and a visit to the vet once a year, you can rest easy because you have earned yourself the title of "Terrific Cat Parent."