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Monthly Cat Home Checkups for good Cat Health

Prevention and early detection of cat illness can save time, money and heartaches. A monthly home checkup of your cats health can help avert problems before they develop into tragedies. Get to know your cats body, habits and personality so you will be alert to any changes from the norm.

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1. Cat Weight:

Check your cats weight. Standing above her and looking down, you should be able to see a slight indentation behind her rib cage. You should be able to easily feel her ribs, but they should not protrude. If you can not easily feel her ribs, she is overweight and needs to go on a reducing diet! (See: Cat Grooming / Health Aids / Nutrition)

2. Cat Skin and Coat:

Healthy coats and skins are glossy, flexible and not excessively oily. Run your hands all over her body and against the grain of the coat. You should not feel or see scales, scabs, redness, sores or hair loss. Black specks are a sign of flea infestation. A dull coat can be an indication of illness or bad nutrition.

3. Cat Body:

Check for any lumps or bumps on the head and chin. Move your hands behind her front legs and under her shoulders. Run your hands down the back and sides and then down the front and back of the hind legs. Check the mammary glands. Inspect the foot pads, and claws for any swelling or injury.

4. Cat Eyes:

The cat eyelids should be smooth. Pull down the lower eyelid to check the conjunctiva. It should be pink and smooth. Especially with Persians and Himalayans, make sure that the eyelashes or hairs on the nose are not rubbing on the eyeball. If the conjunctiva is red and swollen or if a yellow or greenish discharge is present, contact your veterinarian.

The third eyelid, haw or nictitating membrane sometimes is visible even in healthy cats. If it is covering much of the eye, it is sometimes an indicator of disease. If they eventually return to normal (barely visible at the corners of the eyes), it may mean that the eyes were temporarily irritated.

The whites or sclera should be glossy white and not red or yellow. The pupils of the eye should dilate (get bigger) in low light and constrict (get smaller) in bright light. Shining a bright light in one eye should constrict both pupils. If you shine a bright light in the eyes of an older cat, you may see a blue-white sheen. These are senile cataracts and do not interfere with vision.

Brown tearing around the eye could mean blocked tear ducts.

5. Cat Ears:

The inside of the ears should appear light, not bright pink. A small amount of yellow wax at the opening of the ear canal is normal, any brown, waxy discharge, reddening or strong odor is not.

6. Cat Respiratory System:

Watch your cat's chest for even easy breathing. A wet cold nose or a dry hot nose are both normal in healthy cats. A slight watery, clear nasal secretion is normal. A bloody or thick yellowish, greenish, or white discharge is not.

Pull your cat's lip up or down. A light pink color to the gums is normal. Press a finger firmly over an upper tooth. When you take your finger away, the white imprint left by your finger should quickly return to pink. Pale gums are an indication of anemia. Blue or muddy red gums indicate serious respiratory or cardiovascular problems.

7. Cat Teeth and Gums:

Inspect the teeth. A yellow or brown color on the teeth indicates tartar buildup. A red line along the gums may be indicative of gingivitis. Get regular veterinary dental cleaning and maintain your cat1s healthy teeth with special pet toothpaste and brushes. Cats should have lost all their 'baby' teeth by eight months old.

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