A cat wellness exam is pretty similar to an exam you would get going to your own doctor. It's a standard physical exam, although we do it a bit differently. We start at the head and work our way to the tail.
We'll look at the teeth. We're looking for any signs of tooth decay, gum disease, or the possibility of a broken tooth. We're trying to see if anything is going on, including ulcers in the mouth or on the tongue or things that may make us think that your cat's having trouble eating.
We move on to the eyes and make sure the eyes look nice and clear and are responsive to light, that we don't see any obscure areas in each eyelid, and that there are no scratches or anything like that on the cornea. We move on to the ears, and we're looking for any redness or wax accumulation. Are there any signs of irritation or discomfort? We know the cats can sometimes have ear problems, and probably the most commonly known is ear mites, which is a parasite they can have.
From there, we like to listen to their heart and lungs. How well is their heart beating? Is the rhythm normal? Does it sound like there's any fluid in the chest or anything abnormal in the respiratory system? And from there, we move on to the abdomen, and we feel all the internal organs as much as we can. It gives us an idea of whether they are the right size and shape. Does any part of the body feel enlarged or not as it would on a healthy cat patient?
From there, we like to look at the skin and make sure we do not see any skin irritation. We also want to look for fleas and ticks, and it's always a good idea, if we can, to turn your cat over so that we can look at the belly. We do that because sometimes we find that cats will pull hair from their abdomen or licking on their bellies, and many times the owner may not know that. That can be an indication of skin irritation as well.
That depends on whether there's a medical issue or not. Typically when your cat comes in for a wellness exam, there may be some vaccines involved. There may be a fecal test taken to screen for internal parasites. If there are any medical issues, we may recommend some blood work.
Your cat must have a wellness exam at least once a year. That allows us to take a look and make sure we do not see any changes. However, for cats that are seven years and older, it's best to have those guys looked at maybe twice a year, especially if they have some ongoing medical issue.
There is quite a wide array of signs and symptoms, and sometimes they can be noticeable. Other times, they're not. Probably the more common ones we see are lethargy, inappetence, and being reclusive. If you have that cat that's usually socially active and interacting with the family, sometimes they are hiding under beds or in closets because they don't feel well. You might also see symptoms such as limping or suddenly having aggressive tendencies, where they may not have had those before. You could notice a type of lump or bump that's come up that you haven't seen or issues with chewing food or dropping food from their mouth. Those are all things that could indicate that there is a problem. If there has been an accident or injury and the cat is holding the leg up, those are obvious signs that things need to be looked at.
In terms of environmental factors, the one we see regularly would be related to internal and external parasites. These would be your fleas and ticks, especially for our outdoor pets. We also know our outdoor pets can pick up on internal parasites like roundworms and hookworms.
Depending on where you live, and if you've had some chemicals put down on your yard, sometimes those can be irritating to our pet's paws. If your cat lives in an environment where perhaps there's an owner that smokes, we do know that chronic exposure to smoke irritates our cats' lungs sometimes. Parasites and overall air and pollution in your environment will affect your cats, similar to how they would affect us.
Early detection allows us the best chance to prevent disease. It also allows us the best opportunity to mitigate any symptoms that go along with chronic illness. It gives us more time to formulate a game plan to ensure that we can provide your cat the best quality and longest quality of life we possibly can.
If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (615) 283-9040, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.