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Wellness Care for Your Adult (Age 1-7 years) Cat
A comprehensive physical exam and consultation is recommended at least once a year for all adult cats. If your cat has any ongoing health concerns or is on any chronic medications, at least twice a year examinations are recommended. At your cat's wellness exam, we will ask you about your cat's diet, what you are doing for home dental care, if your cat goes outside at all, what you are using for flea control, if your cat is on any medications or supplements, and if you have any concerns or questions about your cat's health or behavior. The veterinarian will do a nose to tail examination, checking your cat's teeth, gums, ears, eyes, throat, lymph nodes, skin, coat, heart, lungs, abdomen, and anal/genital area. The veterinarian will tell you your cat's body condition score and make recommendations about diet, dental care, vaccinations, parasite control, and wellness screening, as well as address your questions and concerns.
Diet and Body Condition
Most of our adult cat patients are overweight. Being overweight or obese increases a cat's risk for diabetes, skin problems, lower urinary tract disease, and arthritis. If your cat is overweight, we can help you make diet changes so as to gradually reduce your cat's weight to a more healthy weight. In general, dry food should not be left out for cats, as most cat's will become overweight with this feeding style. It is much easier to control how much your cat eats by feeding separate meals and picking up the food after a certain period of time. We carry diets that can greatly help with weight reduction and weight control.
For cats who do not have other special dietary needs, we recommend Hill's t/d, an excellent tartar control diet.
Approximately 70% of cats have periodontal disease by 3 years and at least 30% of cats will develop painful resorptive lesions on their teeth during their lifetime. Periodontal disease causes not only painful gums, bad breath, and tooth loss, but also can lead to liver and kidney problems and overall poor health. Resorptive lesions are painful and usually need to be treated by removal of the affected tooth.
All cats need some type of home dental care and most need regular professional dental cleanings. One of the easiest types of home dental care is to feed Hill's t/d. This diet has been proven to actually be more effective in keeping cats' teeth clean than daily brushing and is certainly easier. Another easy way to help keep your cat's mouth healthy is by adding Aquadent, an antiseptic water additive, to your cat's drinking water. Daily brushing can be done if you are gentle and patient and take the time to introduce the kitty tooth paste and brush as positive things to your cat. We also have tartar control chews, an oral hygiene rinse, and a once a week anti-plaque gel that can all help keep your cat's mouth healthy.
When your cat needs a professional dental cleaning we are prepared to do everything possible to keep your cat comfortable and safe while providing the very highest level of dental care. Anesthesia is required to do a thorough tooth by tooth exam and clean above and below the gumline. A nurse monitors your cat's vital signs (heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, oxygenation, and temperature) throughout the procedure and intravenous fluids are given to help maintain a safe blood pressure and normal hydration. After the teeth have been cleaned, polished, and examined, an anti-plaque sealant is applied. Dental x-rays are sometimes needed to evaluate the large portion of each tooth that is below the gumline. A dental chart is made showing any abnormalities so that they can be re-evaluated at the next dental cleaning. When any extractions are needed, pain control is given before and after the procedure and your cat will go home with antibiotics and pain medications. When your cat goes home we will review with you what we found and what treatments were done and will make recommendations for home dental care.
Vaccinations and Retrovirus Testing
At each wellness exam we will review your cat's lifestyle and make recommendations about what vaccines your cat should receive.
All cats should receive Rabies vaccines. This is required by law. We use what we believe is the safest Rabies vaccine available for cats. It is adjuvant free and created using advanced DNA technology. Adjuvants have been associated with tumor formation in some cats and we use only adjuvant free vaccines in our feline patients. Because of the unique technology used to develop this vaccine it is only labeled as a one year vaccine and must be boosted yearly.
All cats should receive an initial vaccine series to protect them from distemper/panleukopenia, herpesvirus, and calicivirus. This vaccine, commonly referred to as FVRCP, should be boosted a year after the initial series. After that, we recommend it be boosted every three years or, if you would like to give your cat no more vaccines than absolutely necessary and your cat has no contact with other cats, less often. The protection provided by the distemper/panleukopenia part of the vaccine is very strong and long lasting. The protection provided by the herpesvirus and calicivirus components is only partial protection and may not be as long lasting.
If your cat goes outside or may come in contact with other cats who are not confirmed to be free of Feline Leukemia, Feline Leukemia Virus vaccines are recommended. An initial series is required, followed by an annual booster. We use an adjuvant free Feline Leukemia Virus vaccine to minimize the risk of vaccine associated tumors. We also use a transdermal vaccine that utilizes just a tiny amount of vaccine material and delivers it directly to the important immune system cells, making it, we believe, the safest and most effective Feline Leukemia vaccine available.
If your cat has not been previously tested for Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus we recommend testing for these serious viruses. Your cat should also be tested if he or she has been potentially exposed to either of these viruses since his or her last test (i.e. if he or she was outside without proper Feline Leukemia vaccination or if he or she got a cat bite). Additionally, all sick cats who have not been recently tested should be tested for both viruses.
Fleas are a year round problem in Washington. Fleas cause significant itching and skin problems in cats who are sensitive to them and can spread tapeworms and Bartonella, the cause of Cat Scratch Fever. We recommend a safe and effective monthly flea control program.
Intestinal parasites are common in cats who go outside and can even be seen in cats who have been indoors for years. We recommend yearly fecal examinations to detect intestinal parasites. If you can not collect a stool sample from your cat, we can prescribe a safe broad spectrum dewormer. Be sure to keep an eye out for tapeworms- these look like grains of rice or sesame seeds and may be seen on your cat's fur, stools, or bedding.
If you travel out of state with your cat, heartworm preventative may be needed.
Early Disease Detection/Wellness Screening
Observing your cat and bringing your cat in for regular wellness exams are important parts of detecting disease, but cats instinctively hide any signs of illness for as long as possible. The only way we can detect many diseases early enough so that we can treat them effectively is by doing routine blood and urine tests as part of our wellness care. These tests will often detect disease in cats who appear completely normal at home and on examination. When diseases are detected early, they are usually easier to treat. In some cases, only a diet change or supplement is needed to correct or control the problem. In cats one to six years of age who appear completely normal at home and at the veterinary hospital, early disease detection testing shows significant abnormalities in 11%. Chronic renal/kidney disease, one of the most common causes of death in cats, is found in 3% of cats under 8 years of age who appear completely normal and healthy. If these cats are put on a therapeutic diet, their life expectancy is twice as long as cats who are fed a regular diet. Without routine blood testing, we would never have the opportunity to extend these cat's lives. Normal test results are also helpful as they provide us with a baseline and allow us to follow trends in values for your individual cat. We recommend early disease detection/wellness screening once a year for cats aged 1-7 years who appear healthy. If your cat has chronic health problems or is on ongoing medication, more frequent testing is recommended.
We recommend cats be kept indoors so as to reduce the risk of infectious diseases, poisoning, falls, car accidents, cat fight injuries, and maulings by dogs, coyotes, or raccoons. Cats who are indoors only live longer and are less expensive to care for because they have fewer injuries and infections.
If your cat will tolerate a collar, a breakaway collar with identification tag with your phone number is recommended. Microchipping is especially important for cats, as many don't wear collars or lose them promptly when they get out. Microchips provide a form of permanent identification. Nearly all shelters, veterinary hospitals, and animal control agencies check found cats for microchips.
Cats have extremely unique and sensitive metabolisms and many drugs that are safe for humans and dogs are toxic for cats. Never give your cat any prescription or over the counter medication that has not been specifically prescribed or recommended by your veterinarian for that cat. Even a few drops of pediatric Tylenol can kill an adult cat! Many "natural" products, like essential oils (especially pennyroyal, which is sometimes used as a flea repellant), can also be toxic to cats. There are also a number of over the counter flea products for sale which cause toxic reactions in many cats.
Many plants and flowers are toxic to cats and cats have a natural inclination to eat them. Do not bring plants or flowers into your house unless you are positive they are safe for your cat to eat.
Some foods that are safe for us are not safe for cats. Cats are very sensitive to both onions and garlic and even small amounts can cause serious anemia. Do not add onions or garlic to your cat's food or use garlic as a flea repellant.