In the veterinary world, it is well known that cats are under cared for and often go for years without receiving any basic health care. Kittens come in for their monthly checks and older patients are in more frequently, but a large concern arises with adult and mature adult cats. These patients “seem” well at home, and hence sometimes do not receive attention to their body condition (weight), diet, flea and heartworm prevention, teeth, and other systems. These are all things that can often go ignored at home, but they greatly influence longevity and quality of life.

The guidelines for feline care from the American Association of Feline Practitioners recommend twice yearly exams for all cats. At each 6 – month check, cats should have their weight measured and have their diet assessed and a diet recommendation given. A full physical exam should be completed. I feel weight, behavioral concerns, joint health and oral exam/teeth are the biggest areas that should be monitored and given care in these patient age groups.

Cats live long lives and not receiving adequate dental care through that time can lead to severe problems. Unfortunately, cats can't brush their own teeth, so we need to closely watch and give oral/dental exams and cleanings regularly. For some patients this is yearly and for other patients it might be every few years.

Also weight tracking provides important information to have to assess for possible disease conditions causing weight loss and for the prevention of weight gain that can predispose to heart disease, osteoarthritis, diabetes, and cancer. Another big question during check-ups is “are there any changes in behavior?” This too can be an early sign of health problems, and it is clearly a large concern to owners and a leading cause of relinquishment to shelters.

As veterinary professionals, our goal is always to prevent disease and allow cats to live the longest and happiest lives possible with their families. And in turn, for their families to benefit from the joys of feline companionship. I know my kitty always manages to calm me down with her roaring purrs and crazy antics; it is a wonderful relationship to experience.