Why Does My Cat Need An Annual Exam?

Author: Jennifer Fligiel, DVM

September 20, 2013


Francois is a beautiful grey tabby cat who comes to Cats Exclusive for his annual exams. “I don’t know Doc,” his person, Marc, said to me. “He’s super healthy.  He never goes outside. He eats well. He acts completely fine.”

During Francois's physical exam I found a very small nodule on his neck. This nodule belongs to the thyroid gland and can be an early indication of thyroid disease. “Has Francois been drinking water?” I asked. “Well, yes,” Marc told me. “You can’t keep him away from that water dish! I fill it three times a day! He’s a good drinker!”

“That kind of water drinking could be an indication of disease," I told Marc. “I am going to recommend a little blood test to check kidney, thyroid, and liver functions. Our nurses can get his blood sample now, and I’ll have the results back in a few days. If everything looks normal, great! But this might be a chance to catch something early.”

After Marc gave me the go-ahead, I let our nurses know what we needed and the “backstage” part of Francois's annual exam began. The nursing staff prepared all of the tools needed to safely get a blood sample from a cat. They filled out Francois’ paperwork for Phoenix Central Laboratory (the professional veterinary laboratory that runs our diagnostic blood tests), they sterilized another exam table in our treatment area, they got the appropriate blood test tubes, slides, and medical equipment. Then, with the wonderfully attentive skill that comes from only handling cats, they safely and calmly got Francois's blood sample.

When the results came back, we discovered that Francois was, indeed, a hyperthyroid patient. Hyperthyroidism affects many cats and there are several ways to treat and even cure it. Left untreated, this hyperthyroidism would damage his kidneys, liver, and heart.

With treatment, Francois will live a life free from thyroid disease. Without his annual exam, we would not catch it as early and he would have felt much worse from the disease.

There are so many cat topics covered at an annual exam. Everything from hidden intestinal parasites, to behavior concerns, and diet questions are reviewed and plans are made for the year.

What Marc thought was an example of excellent cat health, (“He’s a good water drinker!”) was really an indication of disease. With annual exams, we can sort out common myths, and concerns, and intercept diseases where we can really make a difference before overt symptoms are obvious!

Bringing your cat in for annual and semi-annual exams requires a lot of time and preparation on your part. It’s worth every minute and the Cats Exclusive