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Home Health Checkup for a Happy, Healthy Cat


By: Tippy & Alfred with Jane R. Bicks, D.V.M.

Posted: June 2nd, 2005 @ 10:57am


Giving your cat a simple monthly examination can help prevent potential problems for years, here's what to look for.

We all have the tendency to take our pets for granted, but you're making a big mistake if you do so. Cat owners, in particular, share the erroneous belief that their four footed companions know what's best for them and rarely think about their pet's diet or health until the animal becomes visibly ill.

The truth is, smart as cats are, you're smarter! With minimal effort - essentially a once a month home examination and yearly veterinarian exam, you can avert a variety of problems and unnecessary trips to the vet, and keep your cat as fit as it ought to be for life.

1. Have you noticed any recent changes in your cat's attitude or behavior, such as listlessness, restlessness, loss of appetite, aggression?

2. Does your cat's coat look dull or feel dry, brittle, or greasy?

3. Are his whiskers short or broken?

4. Using your hand, brush your cat's hair backwards from tail to head. His skin should be a normal grayish white. Is the skin a healthy color, or is it red and irritated? Is the tail area greasy with sparse hair?

5. Also look carefully for fleas or any little black flecks (the excrement of fleas) on the skin. Do you see any?

6. Does the neck, back or base of the tail show any lesions?

7. Smell your hand after running it through your cat's fur. Your fingers should not have an unpleasant fishy, rancid odor.

8. Are you able to feel good muscle tone around the sternum (breastbone)? If should not be soft or flaccid.

9. Do you feel a firm muscle mass when you run your hand down your cat's spine and over the rib cage? There should not be more than a pinch of fat.

10. Open your cat's mouth and smell his breath.  It should smell clean and not have an offensive odor.  Does it smell clean?

11. Look at the gums. They should be pink, not pale or white, nor should they be swollen, bright red, or bleeding.

12. Check the teeth. Do they look white and healthy?   They should be free of tartar and not loose.

13. Examine your cat's eyes. Are they clear of film and free of mucous discharge? Is there any crusting around them?

14. Feel the inner side of your cat's thighs. Are there any roundish bumps or swellings? These could indicate enlarged lymph nodes and usually the presence of worms.

15. Is your pet's stomach unusually distended?

16. Look at the paw pads. Are they smooth without dry, cracking lines?



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