The Importance of Feline Wellness

When was the last time you brought your cat to the vet? If it was over a year ago, or you can’t even remember, you are not alone. While 79% of dog owners make the trip to a veterinary clinic regularly, only 48% of cat owners do the same. We’d like to take this opportunity to take a closer look at some common reasons why cats don’t come to see the vet as often as their canine counterparts. Our goal is to increase feline visits and health not only at Harmony Veterinary Center, but in the community as a whole.    Debunking the Myths

  1. “My cat is indoor only- they can’t get sick.”

While outdoor cats are exposed to more bacteria and potential health risks, indoor cats are still at risk for many other problems. These include parasites, dental problems, diabetes, and much more. You can also introduce your cat to diseases from anything you bring inside. There isn’t need for panic — regular vaccinations and checkups will reduce your cat’s chances of infectious disease. Moreover, about 70% of cats experience dental disease, regardless of being indoor or outdoor kitties. When you bring your cat into the veterinary clinic for a wellness exam, we perform an oral exam as well, for no additional charge.

  1. “My cat is healthy and acts normal.”

Cats are very good at masking their symptoms and pretending things are okay when this is not the case. It can be hard to differentiate a finicky appetite from dental problems, or random and “normal” vomiting from a more serious issue. That’s why we are here to help understand what’s going on with your furry friend and be their voice. Veterinarians may discover issues with your cat’s skin, heart, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, eyes, or ears despite your pets signals that all is well. While this can be stressful and unexpected, you can learn to notice when your pet is uncomfortable or in pain to prompt a visit to the vet. We want to prevent health issues and reduce pain for your cat so they can live the happiest and healthiest life possible.

  1. “Vet visits are too stressful for my cat.”

Coaxing your cat into a carrier just for them to cry and whine the whole day is not fun. Such a stressful experience may seem to damage your cat’s health more than help it. It is possible to train a cat to tolerate and even enjoy their carrier, but simply having regular visits may help it seem less scary. Remember to minimize stress in yourself as well. Cats are highly in tune with our moods, and a nervous pet parent often leads to a nervous pet. Instead, talk to your cat in a low and soothing voice with calm movements and a few pets when they are ready. Learn more about minimizing stress for your cat when going to the vet.

  1. “Regular visits are too expensive.”

We often consider medical treatment for our furry friends to be very costly — and it can be, especially when unexpected health problems arise. But preventive care that addresses issues early comes with regular wellness exams for your cat. While it costs a bit more at the moment, consistent veterinary care can help avoid or eliminate more complex and expensive conditions in the future. In order to save money, it’s actually most beneficial to bring your cat to the vet often.   However, we understand that individual financial situations look different for everyone. Talk to our staff to find out the variety of payment options that may be available for you. Every pet deserves a healthy and happy life.   So your cat really does need veterinary care. What will that look like?   Treatment Options For Your Cat At Harmony Veterinary Center, we offer an Integrated Medicine approach which includes both traditional western medicine and complementary therapies. Most cats start with a general wellness exam or check up to assess their overall health before delving into more specific areas. These should be done at least once each year. But for young kittens and senior cats, we will need to see your pet more often, such as every 6 months.   What we ask about during an exam:

  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Thirst
  • Breathing
  • Overall behavior and habits
  • Litter box habits
  • Lifestyle (indoor or outdoor)
  • General health

We’ll also do a physical exam, observing how your cat acts in general. This includes:

  • Weight and body condition: Is your cat too fat or too thin? What is the condition of the muscles?
  • Haircoat and skin: We will look for excessive dryness or oiliness, dandruff, excessive shedding, abnormal hair loss, and lumps or bumps.
  • Eyes: We will look for redness, discharge, evidence of excessive tearing, abnormal lumps or bumps, how well the eyelids close, cloudiness, or anything else that looks off.
  • Ears: We look for discharge, thickening, hair loss, or any other signs of problems.
  • Nose and face: We’ll check that your cat’s face is symmetrical, then look for discharge, how well they breathe, and whether or not there are any problems with skin folds.
  • Mouth and teeth: We briefly check for tartar build-up, periodontal disease, retained baby teeth, broken teeth, excessive salivation, staining around the lips, and ulcers in or around the mouth. 
  • Heart: We listen for an abnormal heart rate or heart rhythm, like skipped beats or extra beats. Depending on the results of this, we may simultaneously listen to the chest and feel the pulse on your cat’s hind legs. 
  • Lungs: We listen for evidence of increased or decreased breath sounds.
  • Lymph nodes: We look for any swelling or pain in the lymph nodes in the head, neck, and hind legs regions.
  • Throat: We’ll look for any abnormalities in the thyroid gland.
  • Legs: We will look for any evidence of lameness, muscle problems, nerve problems,  or problems with the paws and nails.
  • Abdomen: We will feel in the areas of the bladder, kidneys, liver, intestines, spleen, and stomach. If there’s any subtle evidence of discomfort or the organs do not feel normal, something else may be going on. 

A lot of this happens quite quickly, so you may not see the veterinarian performing every aspect of the exam. However, we are happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.    We may encourage additional testing, such as a quick blood test, looking at a fecal sample (especially important for kittens), and a urine sample. This helps us assess complete blood count (CBC), the biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and thyroid hormone testing. The age and overall health of your cat will determine how extensive this testing is. Other services we offer include diagnostic services such as radiography, dental x-rays, in-clinic testing, extensive out-of-house testing, dental treatment, surgery and anesthesia, pain management, weight management, laser therapy, rehabilitation therapy, acupuncture, and massage therapy. Make an appointment with us or your local veterinary clinic to ensure the best health of your cat. The healthier your cat is, the more time they have with their favorite human — you!