As a matter of course, every cat that comes into our care is taken to our vets shortly after arrival for a health check. Stray cats are almost always found to need veterinary treatment – neutering and dental care being the most typical. However what often surprises us is how many of the cats coming to us from home environments are found to be in need of veterinary treatment, or found to have previously-undiagnosed medical conditions. For example, 4-year-old Gucci arrived with us because his owner was moving and was unable to take Gucci too. At his vet check, it was noticed that Gucci had potentially serious heart issues – an irregular heartbeat, a grade 5 heart murmur (amongst the most severe) and an enlarged heart. It is possible that these conditions might be expected to affect Gucci’s future health – yet his previous owner had no knowledge of him having these issues. Gucci happily found his forever home, and his new owner understood that he would need to have regular health checks at the vet going forward to monitor his heart condition.
In another case, a pair of two-year-old pale ginger girls called Halo and Haven, arrived with us due to allergies in their home. It became apparent that Halo was blind, but her previous owners had no knowledge of this. A vet check would have picked this up. Halo and Haven were also both happily rehomed – and knowledge of Halo’s condition allowed us to place her in a suitable indoor home. Thanks to their health checks Gucci, Halo and Haven have their happy endings with owners who understand their needs. This is one of the reasons that from a rescue and rehoming perspective, health checks are so critical.
People take their cats to the vet when there is something specifically wrong which needs investigation. However, regular and ongoing general health checks can help to pick up any changes in your cat’s well-being. Your vet will amongst other things assess your cat’s weight and body condition, check their teeth, and advise on vaccinations and parasite treatment. As a minimum, we recommend annual health checks, although for senior cats and those with diagnosed conditions, your vet may recommend more frequent checks. In addition, if you have noticed any behavioural changes in your cat (toileting changes, changes in eating/drinking habits, changes in body or fur condition) it would be sensible to get your vet to give your cat a quick once-over – to put your mind at rest if nothing else.