Preventative healthcare involves doing things to keep your cat healthy before they get sick. You want your cat to stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible, and so do we. By doing preventative healthcare for your cat, we can help you prolong the quality of live and the longevity of life of your cat for as long as possible.
Exams. We recommend yearly exams for cats under the age of 7, and semi-annual exams for cats over the age of 7. Why do we do that? Well, because we are going to be able to find out a lot more about your cat by doing an exam then what you are going to notice with living with your cat every day. We may notice little things such as your cat has lost weight, that you might not have noticed, that might indicate a disease process, or find a significant heart murmur or arrhythmia while listening to your cat's heart with a stethoscope. The sooner we can find these things, the more we can make a significant difference in managing or curing the disease before your cat gets really sick.
Vaccinations. Why do you need to get your cat vaccinated? They never leave the house. Most of the diseases that we vaccinate for can be very easily brought into your home, either by a visitor to your home that has a sick cat at home, or by bringing a new cat into your home. Some of these diseases that we now vaccinate for are uncommon today, because of vaccinations, but 50 years ago, cats died of them routinely. We vaccinate your cats with the same things we vaccinate our own cats for. We wouldn't recommend them for you if we didn't feel that the benefits far outweighed the risks.
Microchips. These can drastically improve the chances of your cat making it back home if they are ever lost. You cannot guarantee that your cat will never slip out the door, or if they go outdoors regularly that someone won't pick them up thinking they are a stray cat. Collars do not stay on consistently - they are too easy to get caught on a fence or somewhere that your cat is squeezing through. Microchips prevent the chance that your cat will be euthanized at an animal shelter because they don't know that your cat has a concerned owner looking for them.
Diets. You are what you eat. That holds true for both people and animals. Cats are strict carnivores. They were designed to catch small prey such as mice and rabbits, and eat the occasional grass to help clean things out. But, when we domesticated them and brought them indoors, we looked for food that would be convenient to feed them, food that could sit at room temperature for several weeks. However, in doing so, we made changes that can significantly affect our cat's health and weight. By feeding your cat a high quality food, you can in turn help prevent health issues that can be caused by feeding lower quality foods.
Dental Health. This is such a big one. For people it is recommended to visit a dentist twice yearly for exams and ultrasonic dental cleanings. Dental disease has been linked to heart disease, kidney disease, GI disease, and even cancer. For cats in the wild, they will chew through bone and skin which will help keep their teeth clean. But, when your cat lives off of a diet of kibble and canned food, that does very little to help keep teeth clean. In addition, when your teeth hurt, you don't wait more than a few days, maybe a few weeks at most before you are in such pain that you go to a dentist. Cats don't have that option and they are masters at hiding signs of illness. Cats can suffer with mouth pain for years before it finally resolves on its own, but they will never let you know.
Spays/Neuters. Not only can spaying or neutering your cat prevent several major diseases, it can also prevent behavior issues such as urine marking and aggression issues. And of course, there is the pet overpopulation problem. The next time you think that it might be nice to let your cat have kittens, go to an animal shelter and look at all of the cats there that are homeless. Then think about the 70% of cats that never even made it to the adoption area, that were euthanized because there was just no room. Spay or neuter your cat.
Declaws. How is this preventative healthcare you might ask. Many might argue that this is purely cosmetic. But, there are a lot of very good homes for cats out there that would not necessarily own a cat if they didn't have them declawed. While you might have no problem trimming your cat's nails, or putting up with a small bit of damage here and there, that may not apply to your neighbor. They might provide an excellent home for and love their cat, but only because their cat is front declawed. When there are more homes for cats than cats, and there is a 0% euthanasia rate for cats in shelters, we will stop declawing cats. Until then, we will continue to do so to be able to keep them in homes. But, we will make it as painless as we possibly can.
Grooming. Have you ever seen a cat with a mat so big that it covers over half of their body? We have, and they hurt. As the fur all mats together, it pulls at the skin and can even result in skin irritation from lack of air exposure. Most cats will be able to groom themselves with no problem, and you will never have to do anything. But because of selective breeding, illness, and trauma, your cat may not be able to adequately groom themselves so you may need to do it, from combing them, trimming their nails, or wiping eye drainage from their face. After all, you feel pretty grungy if you have to go several days without bathing, and you feel 100 times better when you finally are able to bathe. So do cats. If your cat is not able to groom themselves, and you are not able to groom your cat, there are plenty of groomers who would be more than happy to do so. Keeping your cat groomed helps to keep them feeling good, and reduces their susceptibility to illness.
Testing. We will most often recommend preventative testing as a measure to find early signs of disease in your cat long before they show symptoms. As an example, most cats if they live long enough will develop some degree of kidney disease. So, we recommend regular blood work screenings in cats over 7 years of age. Once we start to see the kidneys decline, we will recommend diet changes and medications to help slow down the progression. But, no medication or even a prescription diet is without risks, and we don't recommend starting on these until the benefits outweigh the risks.