Checklist for a Healthy Cat
- Use this checklist frequently to monitor your cat’s health at home. If any problems are identified, call us to schedule an appointment.
- My cat is active and alert, in good spirits and appears to be his/her normal self.
- Eats normally.
- Uses the litterbox regularly and exclusively for both bowel movements and urination. Does not appear to strain when urinating or defecating.
- Has clear, bright eyes.
- Has clean ears that are free of debris and do not itch.
- Has a glossy coat.
- Has white teeth, shrimp-pink gums and no bad breath.
- Breathes normally without noise or excessive effort. Does not cough or sneeze.
- Has a smooth body with no lumps or bumps felt.
- Does not vomit or have diarrhea.
- Walks, jumps and stretches without stiffness or pain.
- Is maintaining his/her normal weight. (Adult cats)
Many cats are very stoic about pain and do not show it easily, but it just makes sense that these diseases can be very painful. Our pets deserve a mouth free of pain. A dental evaluation is part of every physical exam. Taking dental x-rays during a dental cleaning is standard care at The Cat Hospital.
Dr. Ricksgers is a member of the American Veterinary Dental Society.
For more information about specific dental diseases of the cat, click the link below:
Chronic Feline Gingivo-stomatitis (GS)
Feline Tooth Resorption (FORL, cavities, resorptive lesions, cervical line lesion, neck lesion, carie)
A cat’s dental health status is determined during the yearly physical exam. Many owners also detect dental problems on their own. Cats do feel mouth pain and a change in eating habits can be an indication of a dental problem.
Cats should have shrimp pink colored gums, white teeth and no breath odor. If you notice any of the above not to be true or if your cat is suddenly drooling or having trouble eating please call for a dental evaluation.
- Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Hospital, 413-665-4911. This hospital is located in Deerfield, MA.
- Boston Road Animal Hospital, 413-783-1203. This hospital is located in Springfield, MA.
Both of these practices are staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for walk in emergencies.
Our experience has shown that most pet owners did notice a change in their cat’s behavior in advance of what became a true emergency. Trust your own observations of your cat. If you see something worrisome, have your cat examined as soon as possible. Don’t delay. You may be able to avoid a true emergency by addressing your concern sooner rather than later.
Feline Leukemia/Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FeLV/FIV)
We see many cats with FIV in our local area. Because our local shelters screen kittens for Feline Leukemia before adoption, there are less cats in our population now testing positive. For local statistics on these viruses, see kittytest.com
Indoor vs. Outdoor Life
Fleas: There are several effective topical flea products we trust for cats. The cat’s safety is of foremost importance to us in choosing a product. Vectra for Cats, Revolution for Cats and Frontline Plus for Cats are effective and safe products.
Of these, Revolution is the most comprehensive product available, licensed to treat both internal worms, fleas, ear mites and is an effective heartworm prevention as well.
Frontline will treat lice and ticks as well, but has no effect on internal worms, heartworms or ear mites. Vectra will take care of all stages of the flea life cycle.
We are happy to go over the current choices for parasite prevention with clients so they can make an informed choice for their cats.
Internal worms: Kittens easily obtain round worms via nursing their infected moms. All kittens are routinely dewormed for roundworms, and other less common parasites can be found via a fecal centrifugation test. Both kittens and adult cats should have fecal testing done on a regular basis, to protect both human and feline health. For information on disease rates of common parasites, click here.
Heartworm: Heartworm disease is preventable in cats but not treatable. Common symptoms are coughing and vomiting. Cats with heartworm disease sometimes die suddenly. Prevention is easy and safe for both indoor and outdoor cats. Both indoor and outdoor cats can become infected with heartworm. In one study of heartworm in cats, 25% of the cats were listed by their owners as indoor only pets. Preventative products are Revolution (topical) and Heartgard for Cats. Heartworm is transmitted to a cat by the bite of a mosquito. Most cats with heartworm disease develop “H.A.R.D.”, an acronym that stands for Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease. These cats have an asthma-like reaction to heartworm.