Cat Health Checks for Longer Life
It’s likely your cat will live for around 13-17 years. To help her enjoy a long and happy life, try putting this five-step home health check in place. By doing these checks once a month, you may be able to detect a health problem early on, and do something about it.
Weigh your cat by holding her, standing on your bathroom scales, and subtracting your own weight from the combined total. You can also spot changes in your cat's weight by standing above her and looking for a slight ""waist"" behind her ribs, or by placing both hands around her upper waist – you should be able to feel her ribs. You can also check for pouches of tubbiness in your cat’s groin area and under her belly.
If you think your cat is overweight, ask your vet for advice. You can help by keeping all treats and table snacks off the menu, and by giving her four small meals a day, instead of two large ones. Make sure your cat gets some exercise, too, starting slowly with short playtimes and gradually building up to more.
If you think your cat is underweight – if her ribs are actually sticking out, for example – take her into the vet for a full health check.
Coat and Skin
Check your cat's coat – it should feel wonderfully smooth from the top of her head to the tip of her tail. Part the fur near her head and along her spine to check for any flakes, scales or cuts.
From there, move on to the base of her tail, her rump and her stomach. Here, you’re looking to see if any fleas have set up home. If they have, you’ll see tiny black flakes or specks. If you think your cat has fleas, speak to your vet about a suitable treatment.
Check the colour of your cat’s coat - it should be bright and glossy. If it's dull or matted, your cat might be poorly.
Eyes and Ears
Check your cat’s eyes by gently pulling down her lower eyelids – the area you see should be pink. Check that both her pupils are of normal size. Next, stand with your cat by a window, then open and close the curtain to check how responsive her pupils are to the daylight. Also check for coloured discharge or excessive eye watering – either might mean she’s picked up an infection.
Check your cat's ears – they should be clean and pink in colour, but not bright pink. Her ears should also be free of debris and nasty odours. Check for wax – especially dark wax, which may be a sign of ear mites or infection.
If you come across any problems with your cat’s eyes or ears, ask your vet for advice.
Teeth and Gums
Check your cat’s teeth by carefully opening her mouth. Inspect all her teeth, looking for yellow or dark brown tartar build-up. If you find any, take her to the vet to have it removed.
You can help prevent tartar by asking your vet to give your cat’s mouth a regular, thorough clean. Continue the good work at home by buying a specially-designed pet toothbrush and toothpaste, and give your cat treats or dry food that are designed to fight plaque.
Check your cat’s body for unusual lumps or bumps. Place both hands on top of her head and move them first down under her chin, then behind her front legs. Move your hands under your cat’s shoulders, down her back, over her hips, and down each of her legs. Also check her claws and the pads of her paws for cuts or cracks. If you find anything you're not happy with, take your cat to the vet.
If you're very tactile with your cat you'll soon get to know how she looks when she's healthy. That way, you'll quickly spot anything that's unusual, and so help her live a happy, healthy life.