The veterinarians at Cat Care in Rochester Hills believe strongly that the physical exam is the first step in maintaining good health for your cat.
Why is the yearly physical exam important?
A yearly physical exam allows the veterinarian to monitor any changes that could be occurring internally in your cat. Changes in your cat’s weight, coat condition, eating habits, increased water consumption, urine output, bowel movements, activity level and litter box etiquette could indicate a disease process in your kitty. By bringing in your kitty every year, we can discuss any current changes in your kitty’s overall health.
What is happening during a physical exam?
The Veterinarian will ask you several questions to determine whether there are changes in your cat’s behavior (like a decrease or increase in appetite or water intake, changes in activity level, having accidents outside of the box, or having difficulty getting around) or if your cat is having any chronic problems (like vomiting). The veterinarian uses this history to determine any needed testing or treatment that your cat may need during her yearly exam.
The Licensed Veterinary Technician will ask you questions about your cat’s lifestyle, which helps the veterinarian determine the best parasite prevention protocol to protect you and your pet from zoonotic diseases.
Next, the veterinarian will conduct the physical exam. Your cat will get weighed and the doctor will palpate (feel) your kitty’s abdomen and spine to determine her body condition score. The body condition score lets the doctor know if or how obese your cat is, or on the opposite spectrum, if your cat is too underweight or emaciated. A high body condition score puts your cat at increased risk for liver disease and diabetes. A low body condition score, or rapid weight loss could indicate serious medical conditions such as kidney or thyroid disease.
The veterinarian will perform a fundus exam; this is when the doctor examines your kitty’s eyes with a special instrument called an ophthalmic scope. The veterinarian can check for overall retina health as well as the pupillary response. The veterinarian will use a otoscope to check the health of the middle ear and tympanic member (also know as the ear drum). The doctor will look for an over abundance of discharge inside the ear canal, which could indicate an ear infection or ear parasites.
Next, the doctor will exam your cats teeth. They are looking for tartar, gingivitis and oral lesions which could indicate periodontal disease.
The veterinarian will look for an enlarged thyroid gland and check the lymph nodes on the neck by palpating your cats throat and lower jaw region; any swelling of the lymph nodes could mean infection or disease and enlarged thyroid glands could be indicative of thyroid disease.
The veterinarian will then listen to your kitty’s heart beat and lungs sounds using their stethoscope. Increased sounds in the lungs could indicate fluid in the lungs, asthma or even HARD (Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease). An abnormal heart beat could indicate the presence of heart disease.
The veterinarian will then palpate your cats abdomen. They are feeling for masses or tumors, checking to make sure the intestines and kidneys are a normal shape and size and making sure your kitty is producing normal formed stools.
Last but not least, the veterinarian will exam the base of the tail; this includes feeling for full anal glands and checking for signs of loose stool or diarrhea.
By bringing your kitty in for yearly physical exams we can keep a constant record of your cats overall health status. This allows us to note changes and take the necessary steps to keep your cat as healthy for as long as possible. Remember, cats are masters at hiding pain or discomfort, so the yearly physical exam is the only way the veterinarian can prevent and catch diseases before they progress.