All cats should have regular check-ups with their veterinarians – twice a year for older cats. However, in between these visits, 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.
Monitor your cat’s ears.
As I mentioned above, your kitty should get routine checkups at a vet, which includes checking on the health of her ears. But in between vet visits, it’s important to check your cat’s ears once a week for wax, debris, or infection.
Check her outer ear flap, or pinna, to make sure 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.
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.
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.
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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.
Take your cat to a vet if you notice an abnormally strong odor, which can indicate digestive problems or gingivitis. You should also look out 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.
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.
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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 to not 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.
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Remove visible ticks
Another common parasite that affects cats who go outside are ticks. These arachnids can spread serious diseases to your cat, so check her whenever your groom her or she comes indoors.
Remove the tick and take your cat to the vet to ensure that she doesn’t have any further ticks or tick-related conditions.
Most cat ticks are visible to the naked eye so you will need to 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 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, wash your hands and tweezers, too.
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 they may well have ear mites. If you notice this type of discharge during your feline wellness exame take your cat to the vet to confirm the diagnosis.
The vet will most likely give you a product to soothe the itch in your cat’s ears as well as get rid of 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 general health check.
If you are looking to clean the mites from your cat’s ears at home begin by calming your cat. Once she is calm, wrap here in a towel and hold her earflap out 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 for cats 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.
Final Thoughts on your Cat Wellness Check up
Your cats 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!
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