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How to do a Quick Cat Check Up at Home

All cats should have regular check-ups with their veterinarians – twice a year for older cats. However, in between their regular cat check up, there is quite a bit that you can do as a cat owner to keep your feline in the best possible health and happiness.

This list in no way replaces a visit to the vet – this wellness check for cats should be used to keep your cat as happy and healthy as possible at all times.

Veterinarian listening to cat's heart


Cat Check Up: Monitor your cat’s ears. 

As I mentioned above, your kitty should get routine checkups at a vet, which include checking on the health of her ears. But in between vet visits, it’s important to do your own cat check-up of the cat’s ears once a week for wax, debris, or infection.

Check her outer ear flap, or pinna, to ensure it has no bald spots and that its inner surface is clean and light pink.

Examine your cat’s inner ear by folding back each ear and looking down into the canal. Make sure there is no debris, odor, and minimal ear wax. The color should be light pink.

Veterinarian cleans ears to a small kitten close-up

Use a cotton ball dampened in liquid cat ear cleansing solution. Fold back your cat’s ear and gently wipe away any debris. Avoid probing or poking anything into the cat’s ear canal, which can cause trauma or infection.

Warning Signs

Take your cat to the vet if you notice any discharge, caked wax, redness, swelling, bleeding, or unpleasant odor.

Maintain your cat’s oral health. 

Every cat needs clean, sharp teeth and healthy gums. Dental disease is a common problem seen by veterinarians. Checking your kitty’s mouth and keeping it clean with brushing and regular vet visits can help keep disease at bay and your cat’s breath fresh. Make this a regular cat health check in your routine.

Push back your kitty’s gums gently when she is facing you during daily oral care. Make sure her gums are firm and pink and not swollen. Your cat’s teeth should be clean and free of brownish tartar and show no signs of being loose or broken.

⇒ Shop for Cat Dental Products

maine coon cat and toothbrush in studio

Brush your kitty’s teeth daily with a cotton swab or kitty toothbrush and a feline toothpaste. You can also use salt and water. Ask your vet for cat dental product recommendations. 

Start by gently massaging your cat’s gums with your fingers or touching a cotton swab to them and then proceed to the cleaning during your cat check-up.

Warning Signs

Take your cat to a vet if you, during your cat check, notice an abnormally strong odor, which can indicate digestive problems or gingivitis. You should also look for dark red lines along your cat’s gums, red and swollen gums, mouth ulcers, loose teeth, difficulty chewing food, excessive drooling, or pawing at her mouth.

Kill fleas

If you find fleas on your kitty during grooming or the course of caring for her daily, you’ll need to get rid of them as soon as possible. Fleas can make your kitty itch, lead to skin problems, or even other health issues such as having tapeworms.

Cat and flea shadow. Concept graphic.

Fleas are the most common external parasite in pets. They feed on the blood of your cat and are visible through droppings of “flea dirt” or white flea eggs on your cat, persistent itching or scratching, or hair loss.

If your vet diagnoses fleas, ask them to suggest tropical or oral treatments such as cat flea shampoos, sprays or powers.

Follow the packaging instructions of these cat flea products and make sure not to use medication on your cat or any other pets unless it is designated for that specific animal. You will also need to treat other animals in your home and thoroughly clean your house to help get rid of fleas and their eggs.

If you have an outdoor cat, consider treating your lawn.

⇒ Shop for Cat Mite Prevention

Remove visible ticks

Another common parasite that affects cats who go outside is ticks. These arachnids can spread serious diseases to your cat, so check them whenever your groom or they comes indoors.

⇒ Looking for other ways to look after your fabulous feline? Check our my guide on How to Groom a Cat, the Best Cat Brush and a complete guide to Caring for Cats.

flea in pet hair

Remove the tick during your cat check-up and take your cat to the vet to ensure that she has no further ticks or tick-related conditions.

Most cat ticks are visible to the naked eye, so you must search hard to find these little mites. They are about the size of a pinhead but swell as they feed on your cat’s blood.

The best way to search for cat ticks during your cat check-up is to put on a pair of rubber or latex gloves and grasp the tick with a pair of tweezers. Pull the tick straight upwards in a steady motion and place the tick in a jar of rubbing alcohol for veterinary testing.

After you have removed all of the ticks, disinfect the area of your cat’s fur with soap and water, and wash your hands and tweezers, too.

siamese cat in bucket with cleaning products

Getting rid of ear mites

Getting rid of ear mites should also be on your cat check-up list. Tiny parasites called ear mites are also common in cats, though mostly in kittens and younger cats, and can affect their wellness. Cat ear mites are also highly contagious and, in the extreme, can result in hearing and skin problems for your feline.

If your cat has a black, coffee ground-like discharge in their ears, it may well have ear mites. If you notice this type of discharge during your feline wellness exam, take your cat to the vet to confirm the diagnosis.

Unrecognizable veterinarian cleaning ears of a cat with cotton buds.

The vet will likely give you a product to soothe the itch in your cat’s ears and eliminate the mites. Ask your vet to show you the best way to clean your cat’s ears in the future to ensure that the mites don’t return, and add this to your cat’s general health check.

If you want to clean the mites from your cat’s ears at home, begin calming your cat. Once she is calm, wrap her in a towel and hold her earflap with one hand. Use the other hand to squeeze out a cotton ball that has been soaked in ear cleaner into the opening of her ear canal.

NB: Use specially formulated cat ear cleaner.

Once you have finished one ear, release your cat. This may result in some dislodging and shaking out of debris from the ear. After a few minutes, wipe away any debris from her ears with a dry cotton ball. Once she is calm repeat the process with the other ear.

ginger and white Thai breed cat sits on the woman's lap and she cleans its ears close-up shallow depth of field

Final Thoughts on your Cat Wellness Check up

Your cat’s health and happiness is of course, an ongoing priority. The above recommendations are helpful for keeping your cat’s health in check but not exhaustive. Do regularly check your cat’s litter box to see if there are any irregularities in her urine or stool as well.

And don’t forget to ensure that all your cat vaccinations are up to date and to see if cat insurance would be a good investment.

Cat checks at home are an easy way to help to keep your cat as healthy as possible as well as providing some bonding time for you and your feline!

Please Note: This Cat Check Up post contains affiliate links. That means if you click through on most of the links and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. This will not effect the price that you pay. I wanted to make sure that you were aware of this.

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Susanna Karam

Saturday 22nd of October 2022

Hello, Good advice for Cat Wellness check up. However, if you are parent to a Siamese, there is no way you can brush her teeth without getting clawed or bitten!!! ALSO, a Seal or Chocolate Points ears will Not be "pale pink" due to how dark their ears are. Thank you😸

Amanda OBrien

Wednesday 16th of November 2022

Thanks Susanna.

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