Did you receive a reminder in the mail for your cat’s annual check-up? Are you wondering what to expect when you arrive at Appalachian Animal Hospital? Today, we are going to give you an inside look into what happens during your cat’s visit at our clinic.
Meet Oliver! He is here for his annual examination and vaccinations. At Appalachian Animal Hospital, we refer to this as a “Feline Annual”. After checking in at the front desk, Oliver and his owner will wait in the designated cat section of the waiting area. We have a separate area to try to limit stress on our visiting kitties and minimize exposure to canine patients.
Did you know that we have recently implemented the Cat Friendly Practice Program by the American Association of Feline Practitioners? We are very excited to offer our kitty friends more at every phase of the healthcare process. At a CFP-designated clinic, the veterinary staff incorporates cat-friendly features into the physical environment of the practice including special waiting rooms or waiting accommodations, feline-sensitive examination rooms and ward facilities, and equipment appropriate for cats. Staff members also approach cat care in a different manner. The staff learns how to understand the needs of the cat such as how to interpret a cat’s facial expression and body language. Furthermore, the staff is well trained in alternate techniques to calm an anxious cat and ensure that exams and procedures do not escalate anxiety.
The veterinary assistant or technician will invite Oliver and his owner back to our feline-only examination room, if it is available. This room is designated only for cats, so it will not have a canine odor at all. We also have a Feliway plug-in, which constantly releases feline pheromones, which can be very calming to cats. Add in the feline-themed décor, a soft towel and we are confident that Oliver will feel right at home!
Once Oliver is settled into the examination room, a small, infant scale is used to check his weight. Monitoring a yearly weight can be an important indicator of overall health. Gaining too much weight can significantly affect Oliver’s long-term health and put him at higher risk for developing diabetes, arthritis, or other health conditions. It can also shorten his life-expectancy! Weight loss may be difficult to recognize at home, but can be an early indication of hyperthyroidism or kidney disease. Subtle changes may be hard to notice when you are looking at your cat every day.
Inside the examination room, we will ask lots of questions to get a full history of Oliver’s progress over the past year. If you have any specific questions, please bring them with you and we will be happy to discuss all of your concerns during this visit! We will also check his temperature to make sure he does not have a fever, which may lead us to postpone his vaccinations.
Next, the doctor will come in to perform a complete physical examination. Typically, this starts at the head of the patient and works its way back. The doctor will check his eyes, ears and teeth. We can often find the early signs of dental disease by looking all the way in the back of the mouth at the molars, which may be difficult for owners to notice at home. Next, the doctor will feel for the size and shape of the lymph nodes and listen to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope. If there are any early indications of heart disease, the only symptom may be a quiet heart murmur, which may be detected on an annual examination. As we move further down the patient, abdominal palpation is the next step. This involves feeling for any enlarged organs, masses or painful places in the belly. We will check the skin for any signs of parasites (like fleas or mites), redness, hair-loss or irritation. If the patient is having any lameness or signs of discomfort, an orthopedic examination will be performed to evaluate for indications of injury or arthritis.
If the examination does not reveal any serious conditions, Oliver will receive his vaccinations next. Typically, the minimum recommended vaccines are the Feline Distemper Combo vaccine and Rabies vaccine. For outdoor kitties, we also recommend the Feline Leukemia and FIV vaccine. *Check back later in the year for a detailed breakdown of the vaccinations that we offer, how often they are given and which ones are appropriate for your pet.
On the way out, he will swing by the check-out desk to pick-up his vaccine certificate and make any recommended follow-up appointments, if needed. Oliver will need to come back again next year to do it all over again. We hope he will be as excited to see us as we will be to see him!