Spotting potential health issues
A five-point home health check, every month, can help you detect signs of poor health in your cat. Regular trips to the vet are always recommended. Using this guide, you may be able to more easily spot problems, which require veterinary attention so your cat can get treatment before anything serious develops. Whenever anything does not seem normal, take your cat to the vet.
1. Weight check
Weigh your cat regularly. Look for changes in body weight by standing above the cat and looking for a slight "waist" behind her ribs. Place both hands on her ribs - if your cat is at her proper weight, you will be able to feel the ribs under a thin layer of fat, but they should not stick out.
Also, check for pouches of fat in the groin area between the hind legs and under the belly. If your cat is overweight, talk to your vet about a weight reduction program.
2. Coat and skin check
Your cat's coat should feel uniformly smooth from head to tail. Part the fur near the head and along the spine to check for flakes, scales or cuts. Check for signs of fleas - black flakes or specks - at the base of the tail and on the rump and stomach. You can treat fleas with spot treatments from your vet, or dips, shampoos and sprays.
If your cat has a dull or matted coat, she may have a nutrient deficiency or a disease - talk to your veterinarian about the underlying condition.
3. Eyes and ears check
Check your cat's lower eyelid - the area should be pink. As well, the whites of her eye should be glossy white with no redness. Look for normal pupil size and check the responsiveness of her pupil to light. Watch for colored discharge, a sign of infection.
Your cat's ears should be clean and pink in color, but not bright pink. They should also be free of debris and strong odors. Check for wax, especially dark wax which may indicate the presence of ear mites or infection. Visit your veterinarian if you detect any problems with your cat's eyes or ears.
4. Teeth and gums check
Lift your cat's lips away from her gums and press a finger firmly over an upper tooth. When you take your finger away, the white color of the finger imprint on the gum should return to pink. Open her mouth to inspect all her teeth. Look for tartar accumulation, which is yellow to dark brown in color and may lead to poor oral health. A veterinarian should remove it.
To prevent tartar accumulation, have regular dental cleaning done by your veterinarian, and use specially designed pet toothbrushes and toothpaste between dental visits.
5. Spot checks
Check for unusual lumps or bumps on your cat. Place both your hands on top of your cat's head and move them down under the chin, then behind the front legs, under the shoulders, down the back, over the hips, and down the legs. Inspect her claws and footpads for cuts or cracks. Report any unusual lumps to your veterinarian.
Learn what is "normal" for your individual cat and her breed so you can identify any irregularities during the monthly check. Ask your vet for advice on the routine.