What Is Involved In A Cat Preventive Care Program?
At Hallett Veterinary Hospital, we understand that prevention is truly the best medicine where the health and wellness of your cat is concerned. This is why we offer our feline patients and their human counterparts a comprehensive array of cat preventive care services that promote the health, wellness, and longevity of your cat.
A cat preventive care program consists of:
- Annual or Semi-Annual Physical Examinations
- Blood and urine analysis
- Ongoing Health and Wellness Education
- Vaccination and parasite control
The focus of a preventive care program is to ensure that your cat is receiving everything they need to live a healthy life including proper nutrition, good hygiene, and adequate environmental stimulation, as well as early detection of any illness or disease that may be developing. In the fight against various feline diseases, early detection makes a significant difference in the scope and effectiveness of treatment. Most feline diseases are much easier to manage in the early stages, while some diseases can actually reach a point where treatment is no longer an option. Unfortunately, cats are good at hiding signs and symptoms of disease, and by the time symptoms become obvious, it may be too late. This is why regular exams are critically important.
Annual Wellness Exams For Your Cat
An annual wellness exam should be performed by your veterinarian yearly, and in senior cats, a semi-annual wellness exam is recommended every 6 months. The physical exam is a comprehensive assessment of your cat's health. Your veterinarian will review various aspects of your cat's health, including:
- Vaccination status
- Parasite control - to include both internal and external parasites
- Dental health
- Exercise and environmental enrichment
- Ears and eyes
- Internal organs
- Coat and skin
- Blood work to help assess metabolic function
Based on the findings, your veterinarian will discuss any concerns, make recommendations and work with you to keep your cat as healthy as possible.
Bathing, Grooming, and Hygiene Regimen For Cats
A sizeable portion of a cat's health involves self-bathing and grooming. A cat can manage his or her own skin, fur, and digestive health through self-grooming. However, there are things you can do as a cat owner to help ensure optimal hygiene by following a simple preventive care regimen. This includes:
- Brushing your cat's hair regularly to limit knots and fur balls
- Trimming your cat's claws
- Physical interactions including petting and playing to maintain a healthy comfort level with interaction and engage the cat's senses
Of course, the temperament and disposition of your cat can affect your ability to maintain this regimen. If you are unable to do so, or if you have any concerns, our veterinary staff would be happy to discuss options and alternatives with you at your next appointment.
Feline Cancer Detection
Cancer is among the most frightening and painful diagnosis a cat owner can hear. It is also a disease that stands a better chance of being managed if it is detected early on. As a cat owner, if you notice the development of lumps or conditions that look worrisome, please schedule a veterinary appointment immediately. Again, because most signs of illness in cats remain subtle until they are in a more serious condition, it is very important to have a veterinarian give your cat a thorough physical exam on a regular basis. During the exam, our veterinarians will review with you what signs to look for in a cat that may be developing a serious illness.
One of the most overlooked facets of preventive care for cats is dentistry. Cats do not tell you when they have oral pain or discomfort. In general, by four years of age, most cats have developed some dental or gingival disease that will require veterinary intervention. A thorough dental exam requires anesthesia and dental x-rays. The majority of dental disease in cats lies underneath the gum line. For this reason, x-rays are required to identify any disease that may be present in the tooth and the root of the tooth which may be a source of chronic pain. Some of the causes of dental disease and discomfort include:
- Periodontal (gum) Disease
- Tooth Loss
- Mouth Sores and Ulcers
- Tooth resorptive lesions
A thorough cat teeth cleaning by your veterinarian is generally needed every 1 to 3 years, but regular brushing can be performed in the comfort of your home. We would love to assist you in learning how to approach and brush your cat's teeth. Many cats will tolerate daily teeth brushing if done in a gentle and respectful manner. You can also help facilitate excellent cat health by providing toys and treats recommended by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC).
For more information on feline dentistry, visit our cat dental care page.
Flea, Tick, Intestinal Parasite, and Heartworm Prevention For Cats
A comprehensive de-worming program is important to protect your cat as well as the rest of your family, since some intestinal parasites can affect people. Yearly fecal float examinations are recommended to check for intestinal parasites even in indoor cats. There are safe and effective topical products now available that combine intestinal parasite with heartworm, and flea and tick control.
No insects are as troublesome to you and your cat as fleas and ticks. Fleas can cause severe skin irritation and can infest your home if you do not have a good preventive plan. While less common than fleas, ticks can transmit dangerous and even deadly diseases. Both indoor and outdoor cats are at risk for fleas and ticks, as these parasites can thrive in almost all geographic locations.
This is why flea and tick prevention is a cornerstone of comprehensive preventive care for cats. It is important to be aware that there are numerous products on the market that our veterinarians would strongly suggest you avoid. Our veterinarians review available flea and tick products to ensure that our recommendations are as up to date as possible. Our considerations include safety, effectiveness, and cost. Based on these factors, we will work with you to customize a parasite prevention plan for your pets and family. As part of the preventive care for your cat, we will help you choose the safest, most effective parasite products.
For more information on flea and tick prevention for cats, visit our cat flea and tick page.
Raising a healthy cat depends heavily on the type and amount of food they consume on a daily basis. Low-quality cat food and treats high in fat or carbohydrates can negatively affect many aspects of your feline friend's health. Feline obesity is the most common health problem we see in our otherwise healthy cat patients. Developing a nutritional plan from an early age which includes a diet selection, feeding plan and exercise plan is the best way to avoid feline obesity. Cats will have different nutritional requirements during each stage of their lives which include:
- Adult Cats
- Senior Cats
- In addition, there are health conditions which can require special diets
Your veterinarian can help determine if your cat is following a healthy diet, and also help formulate one tailored to your cat's nutritional needs, lifestyle and current condition including prescribed feeding frequency and serving size. In general, we recommend high quality canned and dry food as the primary source of nutrition. Most cats will overeat if allowed to free feed. Remember, your cat will not tell you if they are full, nor can they make positive nutritional changes themselves. Therefore, you must take control of their dietary program in order to ensure their health and wellness throughout every stage of life.
Vaccinations are an essential component of cat care. They consist of a series of immunizations given to your cat as a kitten, and then boosters given periodically throughout your cat's lifetime. Vaccinations help prevent various serious, even potentially fatal diseases that cats are at risk of contracting. They also help prevent the spread of diseases between felines, as well as to human beings.
The Rabies vaccine is the only vaccination currently required by law in most states because Rabies can be transmitted to people, but vaccination against other feline diseases are just as important for your cat. We strongly recommend fostering good cat health by making sure your feline friend completes his or her recommended vaccination protocol on time. This program is determined with your veterinarian and is based on the lifestyle, geographic location and pre-existing medical conditions of your cat.
We are a dedicated, knowledgeable and passionate group of veterinarians who absolutely love both our kitty patients and their human counterparts. We are here to provide comprehensive and compassionate preventive cat care services, and to help you learn how to provide the best care in every way. Contact us to discuss a preventive cat care regimen for your feline friend, and to schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians today.