June is Adopt-A-Cat Month and Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat Month. Cats can make wonderful companions. Many studies have proven that companion animals have therapeutic benefits. In particular, a cat’s purr helps lower stress and blood pressure. Since taking care of a cat is an important responsibility, read on to help a cat live a long and happy life.
As readers may have read in previous “Ask the Vet” columns, wellness or preventive-care checkups are very important for the health of pets. Over the past couple of years, a disturbing trend has emerged of cat visits to veterinarians declining. If one’s cat has an exam at least once a year, that would be the equivalent of a person going to the doctor once every 5-7 years. Since cats hide illness so well, it is suggested by the American Association of Feline Practitioners that cats have preventive-care exams twice a year.
Cats are masters at hiding illness until they have reached or almost reached a crisis stage. Often when an owner notices that his or her cat has not been well for a few days, in reality the cat has probably been ill a lot longer. It is important for owners to know their cats’ habits, such as when they normally eat, go out, and use the litter box, and how they behave.
Healthy cats typically have fairly predictable schedules. They normally sleep 16-18 hours a day and eat, drink, and use the litter box regularly. Being able to identify any out-of-sorts behavior helps catch illness early. The signs a cat will show when not feeling well are mostly behavioral. Some things to watch for are: inappropriate elimination, changes in interactions with family, changes in activity and/or sleep habits, unexplained weight loss or gain, increase or decrease in food and/or water consumption, changes in grooming habits, changes in vocalization habits, and bad breath.
When taking a cat to the vet for an exam, be sure to mention any behavior changes or other noticeable change in normal behavior and habits. This information is helpful to the veterinarian in determining how the pet’s health is. Annual wellness blood tests are also a good idea, along with a urinalysis. These tests can identify signs of early kidney and/or liver disease, diabetes, thyroid problems, and more. A veterinarian can deliver better health care to a pet when it is brought in more often for preventive-care exams.
So what are you waiting for? Go adopt a cat or kitten today and start reaping the rewards. For more information on keeping cats healthy and happy, go to vetstreet.com/cat.