According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), 83 percent of cats visit a veterinarian before their first birthday, but more than 50 percent don’t return until they become sick or are in pain.
The Partnership for Preventive Pet Healthcare reports that nearly 40 percent of pet owners turn to the internet (they “Google” it) to get information before contacting their veterinarians. But annual check-ups are important to keep your cat healthy. When it comes to your cat’s health, it’s always better to be proactive than reactive.
The AAFP says check-ups are important for several reasons:
Cats age much faster than humans – By his first year, your sweet kitty has reached the human age of 15 and by his second year he’s the human equivalent of 24. For each year after that, he ages four cat years for every calendar year. A lot can happen as your cat ages, so an annual check-up is crucial.
Cats are masters at hiding their pain – Your cat may be developing an illness, but by the time you notice something is up with him, it may be much more advanced and difficult to treat. Veterinarians are trained to detect problems early, so they can be treated as soon as possible.
Your cat may be obese – More than 50 percent of cats are overweight or obese. You may think your cat is just fluffy, but just a few extra pounds can put your cat at risk of developing diabetes, as well as heart and respiratory disease. Your vet can determine if your cat is at a healthy weight and if not, what to do to help him slim down.
Any behavior changes? – At your cat’s annual exam, you can give your vet an update on any behavioral changes or changes in eating, drinking or sleeping habits. Your vet will take your cat’s history into account to determine if even the subtlest changes might be the sign of a health issue.
During the annual check-up, your vet will check your cat’s ears, eyes, coat and skin. She will also check your cat’s abdomen, joints, spine, and his muscle tone.
Periodontal disease is the most prevalent disease in cats 3 years of age and older, so your vet will examine your cat’s mouth, gums and teeth. Bad breath is a good indicator that your cat has problems with his teeth.
The bottom line is that regular check-ups can help you avoid medical emergencies that are painful and frightening (for both you and your cat) by detecting illnesses before they become significant or expensive to treat.