by Dr. Dana Koch published June 7, 2016.  Previously published by PetCoach.

Questions Cat Owners Should Ask Their Veterinarians:

  1. Am I the feeding the right diet?

This is an extremely important question to ask your veterinarian.  If you recently purchased or adopted a cat you should consider a nutritionally balanced diet.  Your veterinarian can make recommendations and help you learn how to evaluate food labels when choosing the best food for your pet.  It is also essential you consider any food allergies when selecting a specific diet.  Lastly, determining the appropriate volume of food daily is essential in keeping your dog from putting on unhealthy extra pounds or not consuming enough calories.

  1. What preventatives should my cat receive?

Indoor only cats are at a lower risk for many disease transmitted by mosquitoes, fleas and ticks compared to outdoor cats or dogs.  Even though your cat may be indoor only there is still a risk for flea infestation, especially if there are other pets in your household that spend time outside.  Adult fleas, flea larvae or flea eggs can be carried into your home on inanimate objects, such as shoes, clothing or shopping bags.  One flea can lay thousands of eggs that can take up residence in your carpets or on your beloved pets.  If your cat is considered both indoor and outdoor then it would be strongly recommended to utilize a flea and tick preventative in addition to heartworm prevention.  The latter is transmitted by mosquitoes and can cause serious heart and lung conditions. There seems to be an overwhelming amount of products on the market for these preventatives and each company claims their product is the best.  The preventatives come in various applications including topicals, orals, and collars. You should consult with your veterinarian on which product is right for your specific dog.

  1. Which vaccines should my pet receive?

The answer to this question depends on the age or your animal, exposure to certain diseases and the region of the world you live in. Kittens generally receive a series of vaccines because their immune system is developing while they are losing the maternal antibodies they received from their mother.

The most important vaccine, considering it is required by law is the Rabies vaccine.  Other highly recommended vaccines are the ones that protect against the most common and life-threatening viral infections FVRCP (feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, panleukopenia) vaccine for cats. This is generally one vaccine that protects against all of these viral infections.

Another non-core vaccine that is the one that protects against Feline leukemia (FeLV).  Generally this is for cats that spend a considerable amount of time outside or are in multi-cat households.  FeLV is passed from one cat to another through saliva, blood, and to some extent, urine and feces. FeLV can cause lead to anemia, cancer, and secondary infections resulting from immune deficiency.  Young kittens are much more susceptible to this infection, while adult, indoor-only cats are at a low risk for infection.

Discuss with your veterinarian your pet’s lifestyle and create a vaccine schedule together that will adequately protect your cat from any life-threatening diseases.

  1. Should I spay or neuter my pet?

Most veterinarians recommend spaying and neutering your pets.  This prevents your pets from developing deadly infections and cancers including, testicular and prostate cancer, mammary cancer and pyometras (uterine infections). Additionally, it prevents your cat from becoming pregnant or impregnating another cat, which would further add to the pet overpopulation issue in this country. It is important to also discuss when to spay or neuter your cat because early spaying or neutering can lead to higher complications with anesthesia and possible stunted growth.

  1. How often should I schedule examinations?

Your veterinarian can help you set up a schedule for when examinations are recommended.  Generally as kittens a visit should be scheduled every 3-4 weeks starting at 6-8 weeks of age to make sure they are receiving all of the proper vaccines and boosters.  After your pet is over a year old it often suggested a visit every 6 to 12 months unless your pet becomes ill and requires more immediate attention.

  1. Is my cat predisposed to certain health concerns considering their breed?

This is a wonderful question to ask your veterinarian to gain a better understanding of each breed of cat and which disease to be aware of and recognize.  Early disease recognition may also help to treat or cure a disease faster and prolong your pet’s life.  There are also certain genetic screening tests that can be performed depending on the breed and age of your cat.

  1. What is an ideal weight for my pet?

Most veterinarians will weigh your pet during an examination and evaluate your pet for proper body condition score.  A pet owner’s perspective of what is an ideal weight may be different than what a veterinarian feels is appropriate.  An overweight or underweight animal can be predisposed to certain health issues including diabetes and arthritis.

  1. How can I prevent dental disease?

Dental disease is the most common clinical condition occurring in adult cats. Bad breath is the first indication that your pet may have dental disease. Pet owners are becoming more conscious of the role bad dental disease can play in the overall health of their animals. Studies in dogs have shown that periodontal disease is associated with microscopic changes in the heart, liver, and kidneys.  Your veterinarian can discuss the proper technique for brushing teeth and what other products, such as water additives and dental treats, you can utilize to help keep your cat’s  teeth and gums healthy.

  1. Which toys and treats are safe for my pet?

This is another great question to discuss with your veterinarian.  Certain toys may put your cat at risk for ingesting small pieces and creating an obstruction.  Also, there are a variety of treats sold at pet stores and being aware of which treats can be safely used to reward your cat is another important aspect of being a responsible pet owner.  Some treats can be harmful for cats with food allergies or can be made of tough material leading to broken teeth.

  1. What is considered adequate exercise?

Exercise should be an important component of your cat’s lifestyle.  Depending on the age, weight, and breed of cat you own your veterinarian can discuss what would be a proper amount of exercise for your beloved feline.  It can be difficult to motivate an overweight cat that only wants to sleep and eat to chase a laser pointer or toy.  Spending quality time with your cat and offering varied toys can help your cat live a healthier lifestyle.

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