You are your vet’s eyes and ears between visits. And cats are experts at hiding sickness or injury. That’s why it’s important to look out for warning signs and monitor your cat’s health at home. Here are five key areas to pay attention to:
- Body Weight
Weigh your cat each month. Check for changes in their body weight by standing above them and looking for a slight "waist" behind their ribs. Then, place both hands on your cat’s ribs. If your cat is at their proper weight, you will be able to feel the ribs, but they should not stick out. Also look for pouches of fat in the groin area between the hind legs and under the belly.
- Skin and Fur
Your cat's coat should feel uniformly smooth from head to tail. Part the fur near the head and along the spine to check for flakes, scales or cuts. If your cat has a dull or matted coat, talk to your veterinarian about a possible nutrient deficiency or even an underlying health condition. Finally, look for fleas — black flakes or specks — at the base of the tail and on the rump and stomach.
- Ears and Eyes
Your cat's ears should be clean and pink in color, but not bright pink. They also should be free of debris and strong odors. Check for wax, especially dark wax, which might indicate the presence of ear mites or infection. Gently pull down each of your cat's lower eyelids — this area should be pink and the whites of their eyes should be glossy white with no redness. Look for normal pupil size, and check the responsiveness of their pupils to light. Also watch for colored discharge, a sign of infection.
- Full Body
Check for unusual lumps or bumps on your cat’s body. Place both of your hands on top of your cat's head and move them down under their chin. Then, inspect behind the front legs, under the shoulders, down the back, over the hips and down the legs. Examine their claws and footpads for cuts or cracks.
- Teeth and Gums
Lift your cat's lips away from the gums and press a finger firmly over an upper tooth. When you take your finger away, the white color of the finger imprint on the gum should return to pink. Open your cat’s mouth to inspect all of the teeth. Consult your vet if you notice tartar build-up, yellow to dark-brown spots on teeth that might lead to periodontal disease. Giving a daily FELINE GREENIES™ Dental Treat is a great way to reduce tartar and establish a daily at-home dental care routine for your cat
Source: The Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition (WCPN), Leicestershire, England.