We miss the cats…
Cats are unique in so many ways. Cats are an enigma. Cats appear so independent. They take care of themselves.
Dogs are just out there. What you see is what you get. Dogs are needier then cats. You often know day one when your dog is sick (my wife says dogs are like guys, I don’t see it). Dogs also are more specific in the signs and they show us where they hurt.
Not cats! Are ya kiddin' me?! Cats are the great pretenders and compensators. This is a survival instinct. If cats would show illness in the wild, they would be the first to be preyed upon. They will hide an illness until the last minute and they are rarely specific in their ailments, so when they do come in, they come in with what I call “sick cat syndrome”. Cats can really be a diagnostic challenge.
One of the big concerns in veterinary medicine is the decrease in cat visit to vets across the country. People figure since the cat does not go out, why do they need to go to the vet? What possibly could inside cats get and how do they get sick living their cushy life inside? Some cats, I know, are a pain in the rear end to get in the carrier to get them to the vet. But if you plan, you can make it a lot easier(here are some tips to help). They work.
Well… I will tell you why your cat needs a yearly exam, whether he gets vaccines or not. It is hard for owners to really gauge when a cat is losing weight. You see them every day. We weigh each animal we see, every time they come in. So what’s the big deal if my cat loses a pound since last year? Well that is 10% of it’s body weight. It is like the average person losing 15 to 20 pounds. We always hear a dog’s year is 7 human years. I would say for cat’s it is more like 5 years. A lot can change in 5 years.
Causes in weight loss can be a myriad of things. Some of the most common are diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and kidney disease. All of these can be treated if caught early.
One veterinary expert on cat diabetes, Dr Rand, estimates 90% of diabetic cats will not need long-term insulin, if caught early enough.
Hyperthyroidism, a disease where the thyroid produces too much hormone, can be treated with a medication you rub in the inside of the ear. How easy is that! Kidney disease often can be managed with special foods if caught early.
Cats are so easy to palpate, or feel. Palpation of the abdomen by your vet, will easily tell your vet the size and shape of the internal organs, and it anything is there that shouldn’t be there. We often need to do blood work to see what is going inside of your pet as well.
Instead of regular visits, too often, we see cats in advanced stages of disease that treatment will not help; they have hidden their condition too long. Cats will use all of their nine lives before they will show signs of illness.
The take-home I want to impress upon you is your cat really does need to be examined yearly, even if you don’t see anything wrong, because the cat might just be hiding something from you.
Have you booked your annual appointment yet?
Dr. Rex Riggs grew up in Wadsworth, Ohio, near Akron. Dr Riggs is co-owner of Best Friends Veterinary Hospital in Powell, Ohio. He is also on the board of the North Central Region of Canine Companions of Independence, a board member of The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Society and Small Animal Practitioner Advancement Board at The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine.
Dr. Riggs lives in Lewis Center, OH with his wife Nancy, their dogs Maggie and Ossa, and cat Franklin. Outside of work, Dr. Riggs is an avid golfer and cyclist, and enjoys travel and photography.