Why Indoor Cats Need Annual Checkups

posted: by: The Cat Doctor & Friends Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

"My cat is strictly indoors so I didn't think she needed check ups". Every companion animal veterinarian hears variations of this statement over and over, and sadly these well-meaning cat lovers are mistaken. While keeping your cat indoors will avoid many problems such as cat fight abscesses, ear mites, fleas and car trauma, indoor cats will still benefit from regular yearly exams.

For example, indoor cats are at increased risk for obesity, the number one health problem facing American pets. During your cat's yearly exam, your cat's doctor should assess your cat's BCS (body condition score). They should ask about your cat's diet and discuss with you the nutritional status of your cat. They may have suggestions for improving your cat's diet, depending on what else is found during your cat's exam.

Cats with a predisposition for periodontal (gum) disease might benefit from an all dry diet while an overweight pre-diabetic cat would benefit from a high protein, low carbohydrate all canned diet. Some cats develop urinary crystals, which can turn into kidney or bladder stones. Changing diets early can avoid surgery or life-threatening complications such as urethral obstruction.

Speaking of dental disease, many cats have the first signs of dental disease by three years of age. During a yearly exam, your veterinarian should carefully examine your cat's mouth, teeth and gums including under your cat's tongue. Besides discussing at home dental care such as tartar-control treats, dental diets, or oral rinses, your veterinarian (who doubles as your cat's primary dentist) may also advise a dental prophylactic cleaning. Regular dental care can prevent pain, tooth loss and other complications of periodontal disease (kidney and heart valve infections).

And last, but not least, even indoor cats need occasional vaccinations, especially against panleukopenia virus, which is deadly and can be tracked home on an owner's shoes. Because there are occasional reports of rabid bats in Santa Clarita Valley, every cat should also be vaccinated against rabies. If your cat is allergic to vaccines, a blood test called a titer can be performed to check your cat's immune status, to see if some vaccine boosters can be avoided.