An annual examination at the vet’s office is important part of keeping your cat healthy, even if your pet isn’t displaying any signs of illness. Not only are cats known for being able to “hide” health problems, annual exams help your vet establish a baseline for health in case of any problems down the road; they are also the time to catch and treat any major problems early. Although many cats (and their pet parents) find the experience of going to the vet stressful, the health benefits outweigh any short-term downsides. This article will list what to expect at your cat’s examination.
Arrival and Check In
When you arrive at the vet’s office, there will be some paperwork. This is your first opportunity to make note of any health concerns you might have about your cat.
Your vet’s office should be able to quote you a standard exam fee up front for a regular checkup. This should include the vet’s physical exam and any standard fecal tests they run. Any necessary vaccinations will be add-on costs.
When you are called back to an examination room, a vet tech may ask you to help hold your cat while their temperature is taken with a rectal thermometer. Then their weight will be recorded, since significant weight gain or loss can be symptomatic of a major health problem.
A Cat’s Physical Exam
A regular physical examines your cat from nose to tail! Here’s what your veterinarian will look for during a routine physical:
- Fur and skin: Your cat’s coat and skin are indicators of their physical health. Problems with dandruff or fur can be indicators of a nutritional deficit or other serious health problem. Your vet will also probably pull a section of your cat’s skin gently up to check for dehydration.
- Ears: Your vet will examine both ear canals for unusual buildup in the ears, skin conditions, or signs of mites.
- Heart and lungs: Using a stethoscope, the vet will listen to your cat’s heart and breathing. Any abnormalities may require further testing, such as an EKG.
- Abdomen: Your vet will carefully feel your cat’s abdomen to check their organs and feel for any abnormal masses. This should be a painless process, so any discomfort your vet finds may indicate a health concern.
- Mouth: Dental hygiene is sometimes an overlooked aspect of pet health. Your vet may recommend a professional cleaning or home regimen to help improve your cat’s health and comfort eating. Older cats are particularly susceptible to oral health problems.
- Eyes: Looking at the eyes and lids, your vet will check for early signs of cataracts, lesions caused by upper respiratory infections, and any other abnormalities like excessive tearing or signs of allergies.
- Nose: The vet will check for congestion, a runny nose, or other signs of an infection.
- Paws: Your vet will examine your cat’s paws, pads, and nails. They may also offer a complimentary nail trimming (one of the most dreaded maintenance routines for cat owners).
- Backside and feces: Your vet will do a visual examination of your cat’s anus to make sure there are no signs of worms or an anal gland infection. If your vet’s office asked you to bring a fecal sample, they will take it for parasite testing and call you with the test results.
Your time to ask questions:
A yearly check-up is your chance to ask any questions to have – small or large – about your cat’s health. Feel free to ask your vet about any health or behavior concerns during the exam.
A complete wellness profile is a vital part of keeping your cat healthy. If your vet notices anything of concern during the exam, they will help you design a treatment plan or a watch-and-wait strategy. And if your cat gets a clean bill of health, you can feel good about taking a proactive approach to their wellness.
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This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.