Scheduling a yearly checkup with our doctors helps us stay on track with our health. Well, our four-legged friends need checkups, too! Wellness visits are golden opportunities to learn more about your cat’s health and help your cat live a long and healthy life.
Unsurprisingly, though, cats don’t love getting poked and prodded at the vet’s office. Not only do cats resist vet visits, but pet parents may also not realize the importance of wellness care.
We’re here to help you understand why wellness visits are important, what to expect during these visits, and how to prepare for one.
Cats are experts at masking any hint of discomfort, making it easy to miss signs of illness. Wellness visits help your veterinarian detect diseases early in your cat, allowing you to get an early start on treatment and disease management.
Wellness visits are also crucial to disease prevention. Preventing disease in your cat is less costly than treating a disease. Third, wellness visits are an ideal time for you to discuss any questions or concerns that you have about your cat’s health or behavior. Your veterinarian will appreciate you wanting to learn as much as you can about caring for your cat.
All cats should receive an annual wellness visit. Senior cats (8–14 years) should receive bi-annual wellness visits, and geriatric cats (≥ 15 years) should be seen four times a year.
A cat wellness visit is a comprehensive assessment of your cat’s health. Let’s go through the components of the visit, listed below, in detail:
- Physical examination
- Diagnostic testing
- Preventive care
History: Your veterinarian will ask you detailed questions about your cat, including your cat’s diet, behavior, litter-box habits, and physical activity.
Physical examination: Your vet will examine your cat from head to toe. This includes listening to your cat’s heart and lungs, evaluating your cat’s body condition (e.g., ideal weight), and observing skin and coat quality. Your vet will also watch your cat walk to look for limping for other walking difficulties.
As much as your cat will allow it, your vet will evaluate your cat’s dental health. Detecting early signs of dental disease will save your cat from the painful effects of dental disease later in life.
Senior cats often have their blood pressure checked during a physical exam as well.
Diagnostic testing: Basic diagnostic testing includes routine blood-work, a fecal exam to check for intestinal parasites, and a urinalysis.
Depending on physical exam findings or your cat’s current health condition, your veterinarian may recommend additional diagnostic testing. For example, if your cat is limping, x-rays could show signs of arthritis. If your cat has hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid glands), a thyroid hormone blood test would be warranted.
Preventive Care: Wellness visits are the perfect time to get your cat up-to-date on vaccinations and get a refill on flea & tick and heartworm preventatives.
Wellness visits are thorough, so take time to prepare. Closely observe your cat and write down any concerning changes in your cat’s behavior or appearance. Also, write down questions that you want to ask your vet. Don’t assume that you’ll remember your questions during the appointment. Before your appointment, you may also want to consider calling your vet's office to learn their appointment protocols.
Wellness visits are an essential aspect of responsible pet ownership. Your cat’s wellness visits will help your cat stay as healthy as possible and enjoy a good quality of life.
Looking for more ways to protect your kitty? Consider investing in a cat insurance policy with MetLife Pet Insurance.1 Get your free quote today.