Cats' Health Maintenance: A Feline Check Up Checklist

Veterinary check ups can be instrumental to your cat's health. Your vet should give your cat a thorough physical exam, make sure his vaccinations are up to date and check him for parasites. Here are the things your vet should check during your cat's routine annual physical exam.

1) Vaccination Status

Every cat should be vaccinated against rabies, feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus. You may also want to vaccinate against additional diseases such as feline calicivirus, feline enteritis and feline chlamydia.

Vaccinations are vital to your cat's health. Many feline diseases are highly contagious and costly to treat. Some, like feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus, cause chronic illness which requires careful lifelong management. Many contagious diseases are deadly, but perfectly preventable with proper vaccinations.

2) Weight and General Condition

Your vet should perform a thorough basic exam. He should weigh your cat and take your cat's temperature. He should palpitate your cat's abdomen to check for internal abnormalities. He should look at your cat's teeth, mouth, eyes and nose.

3) Heart and Respiratory Rates

Your vet should check your cat's heart and respiratory rates with a stethoscope. An adult cat's heart should beat 145 to 200 times per minute, while a kitten's may beat more than 200 times per minute. An adult cat should breathe 20 to 40 times per minute, while a kitten may breathe between 15 and 35 times per minute.

4) Parasite Control

Your vet should check your cat for parasites. These include fleas and earmites, which leave a brown residue in the ears and cause your cat to shake his head and scratch his ears excessively. Your vet should also check for intestinal worms; you can facilitate this by bringing a stool sample to each and every check up.

Parasitic infections are usually easily treated, especially fleas, ticks, earmites and intestinal worms. Your vet can recommend preventative medicines that can protect against parasitical infection. This is especially true if you live in an area that's high risk for heartworms. Make sure you get some heartworm preventatives, as heartworm infection can be difficult to treat and is often deadly.

5) Behavior and Personality

Your vet should ask questions about your cat's behavior and personality. Changes in behavior and personality can indicate serious medical illness.

6) Dental Care

Your vet should inspect your cat's teeth for signs of decay and gum diseases like gingivitis. He'll also look for cracked, broken and missing teeth. Your cat should receive an annual veterinary dental cleaning, under anesthesia. This helps prevent plaque and tartar build up, which can irritate the gums and lead to gingivitis.

If left untreated, gingivitis can progress and become periodontitis. Periodontitis is a bacterial infection of the gums that can spread to other organs of the body if bacteria get into your cat's bloodstream.

7) Geriatric Cases

If your cat is elderly, he may require additional work ups to check for diseases specific to geriatic felines. Older cats may suffer from various problems including organ failure, arthritis, deafness, blindness, memory loss and dementia. Your vet should take your cat's advanced age into account when examining him.