While forming a good relationship with your cat’s veterinarian is important, getting to know what is normal for your cat is crucial. Just like a parent with a child, you will know what is an abnormal behavior for your cat and you might be able to help your veterinarian discover the source of any problem that may arise before it is life threatening. Early detection saves lives.
It is highly recommended a wellness check be performed on your cat at least once a year. During your visit, the veterinarian will check the condition of your cat’s eyes and ears; listen to the sounds of her heart and breathing; feel her abdomen and coat; and inspect her mouth for disease or tooth tartar. They may require tests such as examination of a stool sample for internal parasites and blood tests to uncover disease. Regular tests and vaccinations are especially important during a kitten’s first year.
All cats, even indoor pets, need to be vaccinated. Some viruses travel through the air or may be brought into your house on people’s clothing or shoes. There is also the risk that an indoor cat may get out or that a disease-carrying cat may wonder into your yard or house. Your veterinarian will provide routine vaccinations for feline distemper and upper respiratory disease. In addition, ask your veterinarian if your cat should be vaccinated against Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). Remember, some vaccines must be given as a series over a period of time, and many may require boosters. Your cat’s initial rabies vaccination is essential and should be given sometime between 3 – 4 months of age. Through various tests and vaccines, modern veterinary science can provide a degree of protection from many feline diseases.
Symptoms of Illness
Even with good care, your cat may not always be in the best of health. She may have a flurry of sneezes or a coughing spell. She may vomit occasionally, even if she is not seriously ill. But if these symptoms persist, don’t ignore them. Take her to the veterinarian right away. A change in behavior is often the first sign of illness. Other signs to watch for, which indicate that your cat may need veterinary attention include:
Diarrhea which persists for more than 24 hours or accompanies other signs of illness. * Constipation which persists for more than 24 hours. *Persistent vomiting of a greenish-yellow bile; or vomiting blood which colors the vomit dark red, brown or black. * Labored breathing or panting. * Straining to urinate or blood in the urine. * Acute swelling of small body lumps which gradually increase in size. * Lameness or pain.* Loss of appetite for several days in a row. * Sudden loss of weight or weight gain. * A dull, patchy coat which sheds heavily. * Red, watery eyes or nasal discharge. * Lying or crouching listlessly. * Failure to wash herself. * Failure to use the litter box, or using and inappropriate location. * Hiding in dark places. * Resents or resists handling. * Scratching or biting by a normally even-tempered kitten or cat. * Other unusual symptoms.