During a wellness visit, what types of health and vaccine protocols are most common for an adult cat?

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Cats over two years old generally age four to five human years every 12 months. Their requirements change as they go through different life stages. For instance, young kittens tend to see veterinarians a few times a year because of the need for vaccinations. An adult cat may see a veterinarian once or twice a year for a complete physical examination.

Once the cat is one year old, she will return to the veterinarian for a booster shot of the core vaccinations, a booster for the rabies vaccination, a fecal examination and an overall physical examination. Following this examination, the American Association of Feline Practitioners recommends a booster for the core vaccinations every three years. In some states, a three-year inoculation meets the legal requirement for rabies vaccination. In other states, you will have to return to your veterinarian each year for your cat’s rabies vaccination. Even if your cat is not due for vaccines, some veterinarians recommend a general health check up once or twice yearly so that problems can be detected when they are still small and easier to manage.

Here’s what generally happens. First, the veterinarian or vet tech will weigh your cat, take a general history and assess the overall body condition (weight).

Then they look at:

• Skin and hair coat for dryness, wounds, etc.
• Ears for debris or discharge.
• Eyes for reaction to light, cataracts, discharge and other abnormalities.
• Nose for crusting or discharge
• Teeth and mouth are checked for tartar and gingivitis, growths, missing teeth, and infection.
• Thyroid glands are palpated for enlargement.
• Heart and lungs: Listening for murmurs, arrhythmias, wheezes, or crackles.
• Abdomen and internal organs: Palpated for irregular size or shape, or abnormal growths (kidneys, intestines, urinary bladder, spleen, liver)
• Cat’s normal gait (walking) is observed, if possible. If any lameness is noted, or reported by the owner, a more thorough orthopedic exam is performed.

If any of these show abnormalities, more thorough investigation may be needed. Your veterinarian will also advise you on the appropriate vaccination schedule.

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