How can preventative care extend the life and improve the health of my cat?
Preventative care can help decrease certain side effects and illnesses if we catch that early. The longer something goes undiagnosed, or we don’t determine what it is, the more detrimental the effects will be. So preventative care encompasses trying to catch things early in a cat’s life so that we can either treat it or slow down the progression of a disease so that they have a better quality of life.
What types of preventative care do you recommend for cats?
There are a lot of different things involved with preventative care. One of the main things that owners typically don’t think of because cats are pretty independent creatures is nutrition. Nutrition and weight management are important. I’m a big fan of making sure that our kitties stay healthy and are at a healthy weight. At our yearly visits, we often discuss what we can do if they’re getting a little bit too chunky or maybe they’re a bit too thin, so we can make adjustments regarding what they’re eating or how much they’re eating, and how they’re fed. That is one aspect that is often forgotten or maybe put on the back burner as something that is not important, but if your kittie is obese, it can lead to some early heart problems, liver diseases, kidney diseases, and arthritis. Obviously, we don’t want that.
Vaccinations are a very popular aspect as well. We also recommend spaying and neutering. There is dental care, which is very important. Many owners don’t think that teeth are an important aspect of health for kitties. Cats can get terrible dental diseases that can go unnoticed. We’re always doing a good health check on them at your yearly exam, a good physical exam. One of the predominant areas that we’re looking at is their teeth to ensure there are no resorptive lesions, Gingivitis, bad teeth, cavities, or anything like that. If we do find that, we would recommend treatment, including dental cleaning and taking care of those bad teeth. Regarding parasites, we do screening and fecal checks as part of our preventative care.
Some parasites are in the intestines that kitties often get as young kittens. We don’t typically see problems with intestinal parasites in adult cats if they’re indoor cats. But if they’re outdoor kitties, we recommend checking a fecal sample at least twice a year to make sure that they haven’t picked up anything. Then we also have what we call ectoparasites, which are fleas and ticks. People are often surprised when their indoor kitty is scratching and itching, and they come in and say, “Well, I don’t know. They can’t have fleas. They don’t go outside.” But when we comb through, we find fleas. So both indoor and outdoor cats need to be on some flea or tick preventative during the months that its high risk. Fleas can squeeze through the tiny openings in the screens of your windows and your doors.
Typically, cats like to perch the windows or on the windows sills. If that is in an area near a lot of brush or bushes, that’s likely where they’re getting them. But you can also bring them in on your clothes. They’re going to hop off of you to go onto the animals to get a meal. It’s not often thought about for indoor kitties, but we do encourage them to be on a flea and tick preventative. There’s also a thing called enrichment. People are like, “Well, my cat just lays around all day, and it’s maybe up to two to three hours, but it’s lazy, and it sleeps a lot.” Enrichment involves you being involved with your kitty. You want to be able to have some playtime with your cat, whether that’s throwing a ball or having a little wand with a feather on it that they can chase, scratching posts, or having cat trees throughout the house where they can perch and climb on things.
Just try to enrich their environment as much as possible so that they aren’t a little couch potato, which owners often describe. And then we do have the wellness exams. Part of our wellness exams depends on the age of your care. By the age of six, we recommend that they should have some type of blood work done here at Cloverleaf. We recommend that they get screened every year for kidney and liver function. As they get a little bit older, we often recommend doing a thyroid screen as well. That involves blood work that typically will show us the functioning of the kidneys and the function of the liver. It gives us protein levels. It also looks at their complete blood cell counts to ensure that there’s no evidence of any anemia or infection going on in older kitties. We recommend doing a urine analysis because there are certain underlying diseases that a urine analysis will help us determine. We often incorporate that with the additional blood work that we do.
What are some possible conditions that can be avoided with cat preventative care?
Some of the conditions definitely would be parasites. So if we’re running a fecal and we see your kidney has some roundworms, we’re going to prescribe the proper medication to take care of that parasite. We’ll talk to you about what we can do to prevent those parasites from coming back. Sometimes it’s an environmental change. With an outdoor kitty that stays and lives outside, you can’t control them from eating critters that might be carrying the parasite. So again, checking the feces routinely would be one of the things that you could do to prevent those parasites. Have them on a preventative to prevent flea or tick infestation problems. Also, dental disease. Have those teeth looked at yearly to prevent dental diseases. I often encourage people to use different dental products to try to slow down the progression. Very few clients brush their cat’s teeth, but I do have a couple of clients who are very successful in brushing their cat’s teeth to prevent disease. Vaccines are important in preventing any type of potential disease.
Why is it important to avoid self-diagnosing my cat?
We chuckle here at Cloverleaf Animal Hospital when people say, “I Googled this, and it told me this.” I’m not saying that Google is a bad thing. We all love it. But sometimes, it can be misleading, like if you’re on are not on a reputable site. Sometimes you get really paranoid, or you get very anxious about something that is very simple. It puts you in a mindset, and you think this is a terrible thing. And you come in all upset, and we say, “No, it’s just a parasite. We can treat this with no problem.” When self-diagnosing, you don’t truly have all the knowledge or information. So it can be misleading. We recommend that if you suspect that there’s a problem with your cat, the best option is to call your veterinarian and get them in for an exam. Then, we can discuss everything and run diagnostics to determine exactly what’s going on.
What are the risks of failing to provide preventative care for my cat?
If you fail to do preventative care, it’s generally safe to say you’re probably not protecting them against illnesses or diseases that potentially could affect them. It also means that you’re not allowing them to have a good quality of life. If you say, “Oh, I missed my yearly exam. It’s been five years since I brought my cat in. She hates to come in, and she hates the carrier.” We’re using that to excuse why we’re not coming in for those yearly exams. Unfortunately, it is something that can decrease the overall quality of their life. So we recommend that your kitty comes in every year for an exam, whether they’re due for vaccines or not. With our vaccines, our older kitties get vaccinated every three years. So we really don’t want clients coming in with your cat every three years just because they’re due for a vaccine. We can take other measures to make sure that your cat is living a great life and is not having any underlying health issues. If we’re doing that on a yearly basis, then the chances of us catching things earlier rather than later are better, and you’re going to give them a better quality of life down the road.
If you still have other questions and you’d like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (330) 948-2002, email us, or reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we’ll get back to you as fast as we can.