Many cats today are not receiving the benefit of regular physical examinations by a veterinarian. A thorough physical examination is a nose-to-tail check-up of teeth, eyes, ears, hair and skin, heart and lungs, and abdominal organs. In addition, your veterinarian gets to talk to you about your cat’s activity, eating and drinking habits, and litterbox behavior. Routine wellness visits allow the opportunity to evaluate blood and urine for signs of illness.
Cats are independent creatures, and they do not always tell us when they are not feeling well. Heart murmurs, dental disease, masses or metabolic illnesses can be detected during routine examinations and blood or urine tests before you even notice there is a problem. It is not always obvious when your cat is unwell. An ill cat may show less activity, less food intake, increased drinking, a change in urination, weight loss, or be less social.
As any cat owner well knows, packing our feline friends up into a carrier, taking them on a noisy car ride, transporting them to a place with foreign smells and sounds, and having them handled by people unfamiliar to them can make for a very stressful trip. This stress is the number one reason why many people do not seek regular check-ups for their cats. The following tips may help make the trip to the veterinarian less stressful for you as well as your cat, and allow your best friend to get the regular check-up it deserves:
- Make the carrier a comfortable and familiar object: at home, keep the carrier in an accessible location and place a towel or blanket inside; be sure the carrier is large enough that your cat can turn around easily; occasionally put a tasty food treat into the back of the carrier so your cat is encouraged to enter it; carriers that are easy to open make it less stressful to get your cat out
- Do not feed your cat for a few hours before your appointment: there are two reasons for this; first, your cat may be more likely to get nauseous with a full stomach and second, if you and your veterinarian decide to do any bloodwork, fasting for 8-10 hours is often required
- Keep the car windows up and maintain a comfortable temperature: closed windows keep road noise out, and no one likes a really cold or really hot car
- Consider Feliway® or a prescription sedative: Feliway® is a pheromone spray that can relax cats – you can spray it into the carrier thirty minutes before your trip and you can also spray the car and exam room; some cats are high-strung and may need a sedative given by mouth at home before your appointment – talk to us about whether your cat would benefit from this therapy • Bring something familiar with you: using a towel or toy that has familiar odors or is comforting to your cat will help him/her relax
- Protect your cat in the waiting room: though we do our best to limit noise, odors and other stressors, other patients and clients can cause your cat anxiety – keep your carrier away from noisy pets or children, and/or keep it covered with a towel to keep your cat from seeing things that might frighten it
- Download forms: prior to your appointment, go to our website and download any available forms and have them filled out before you arrive – this will shorten wait times and get you and your cat seen by the veterinarian quicker