Annual preventive care: your cat’s yearly checkup

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We all want our pets to live long, healthy lives. So, while it’s easy to think “Fluffy has never been sick a day in her life, so she doesn’t need to go to the vet this year,” that is precisely the right time to take her in for a checkup. Even if your cat didn’t need a single vaccine, a thorough physical exam can mean the difference between catching a potential problem early, or struggling to get it under control later.

Depending on your location, your cat’s age and your veterinarian’s preferences, some vaccines, like rabies and feline leukemia, might need a booster every year. Other vaccines, like the distemper vaccine, might need to be given every three years.

A thorough physical exam will catch things like dental disease and parasites, as well as potentially life threatening things like precancerous growths before they become a bigger problem. As pets age, things like checking their heart and evaluating their joint health become important.

Let your vet know about changes in lifestyle or behavior. For example, if your cat has gone from being an outdoor cat to an indoor cat, or vice versa, this can change the types of vaccines and parasite prevention she needs. Changes in litter pan habits, appetite or activity level should all be noted.

As your pet gets older, regular annual bloodwork may be recommended. Checking their bloodwork while they are healthy gives your veterinarian baseline values to refer back to if your cat becomes sick. Just like humans, it is possible to monitor organ health and function through these tests. Senior cats can be prone to diabetes, thyroid disease and other metabolic diseases that can be treated or controlled if found before your cat shows signs of illness.

Some veterinarians and families even choose to have their older pets examined every six months. If you worry about your cat’s behavior in the car or at the vet’s office, check with your veterinarian about options for getting her there safely, or investigate the possibility of a house call. Whatever you choose, regular checkups will help keep your feline friend healthy longer.

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