What happens during your cat’s annual check up?
According to Dr. Lucie Hénault, vet at Le Gardeur and Montréal Veterinary hospitals, “Cats are expert at hiding pain. They are both predator and prey, and it is very advantageous for prey not to show weakness.”
Therefore, if you wait for a cat to obviously show that they are in pain before making an appointment with your vet, you may be waiting a long time, maybe too long in fact. Dr. Hénault also tells us about another peculiarity of our feline friends: they sleep about eighteen hours a day. One sign that your cat isn’t doing well is that they sleep even more. However, as we’re sure you’re not watching your cat every minute of the day, you may not notice these extra hours spent sleeping.
So how do you know when your cat’s not feeling well? By the time you really notice that something’s wrong, the condition will have probably advanced. But before it gets that far: have you noticed that your cat isn’t moving around as much? “Between sleeping, a cat will groom itself, intermittently, for two hours, and will hunt for about four hours, explains Dr. Hénault. And remember, when not sleeping, a cat is definitely active, even if they’re not moving; when they are “on the lookout”, for example.”
An annual check up allows your vet to detect a problem before your cat has to endure any pain. What exactly goes on during a check up? Dr. Hénault describes her procedure: “I start at the nose, going over the whole face, and the teeth. Toothaches are usually caused by dental lesions similar to cavities, but an owner wouldn’t see them. I palpate the glands, stomach, and flesh. Many cats are overweight, predisposing them to conditions like osteoarthritis, heart problems and diabetes. I check their coat and flex the joints and spine. I examine the eyes (even the back of the eye and the retina). I listen to the heart and lungs, and I watch how the animal walks…” It’s a complete exam after which she discusses the relationship between pet and owner; how the entire family gets on together. She then considers if small adjustments need to be made to improve any aspect.
When you meet with your vet for your cat’s annual check up, don’t hesitate to ask questions and request advice, most importantly about recommended diet and the type of activities that will keep your cat active.