Routine HealthCare Examination: Considerations for Adult cats (3–6y)
In general, a minimum of one annual wellness examination and review of preventative health care is recommended for Adult cats; a recommendation endorsed by ISFM, AAFP and AAHA. It should not simply be assumed that lifestyle and healthcare requirements have remained unchanged. Cats become socially mature in their adult life stage and this is when most problem behaviours and behaviour-related diseases (e.g., idiopathic cystitis) may become evident. Early detection and appropriate intervention may prevent serious problem behaviours later on. In pedigree cats, some inherited diseases (such as polycystic kidney disease) may become evident in Adults, and specific breed-related issues should be reviewed.
Remember that during these life stages in cats, one year of a cat’s life is typically equivalent to 4 to 5 years in human terms. Much can happen to us in a 4 – 5 year period (for example, most people would not leave it 4 to 5 years between visits to their dentist!), so an annual check-up should be regarded as the minimum. Owners should also be made aware that changes in health status may occur in a short period of time; that ill cats often show few signs of disease; and that earlier detection of problems allows for earlier intervention.
Core vaccines should be continued according to current guidelines, with risks and benefits being assessed for the individual cat when deciding on the frequency of vaccination. An annual risk assessment for the use of non-core vaccines is also indicated, in accordance with current guidelines.
All external parasite control should be maintained and reviewed at each visit, alongside any changes in the cat’s environment, lifestyle and any movement from one region to another. Frequency of worming should be based on a risk assessment and this should be reassessed every visit. Based on ESCCAP guidelines, cats with outdoor access should be dewormed at least every three months and cats that share homes with children under 5 years of age or immunocompromised individuals should be treated monthly. Faecal examinations may be considered with treatment based on the findings but their limitations as well as their value must be kept in mind.
Nutrition and weight management
Carefully monitor weight and BCS at each visit, calculating the % weight change between each visit can be a useful tool for assessing trends.
% weight change = (Previous weight – current weight / previous weight) x 100
Obesity becomes more common in Adult cats, especially as they move to the mature life stage, so careful monitoring is important. A change in 1 point of a 9-point body condition score reflects about a 10% change in body weight.
Nutritional advice should be reviewed at each visit. Early signs of weight gain should prompt changes in lifestyle and consideration of dietary change to a suitable weight management diet. Owner compliance with dietary advice will be improved by regular visits, emphasising how common obesity is, how significant it is as a cause of disease, and how difficult weight loss is to achieve once obesity occurs. Increasing frequency of examinations and introducing nurse clinics to help manage dietary interventions are useful tools to consider.
Additional points to consider include
Oral/dental examination and regular teeth brushing should be encouraged. Brushing a cat’s teeth is likely to be the single most effective way to reduce dental plaque and maintain long-term oral health.
If an owner wishes to use a collar, ensuring that only safety (quick release) collars are used.
For more advice on minimising stress during trips to the veterinary clinic, see the Cat Friendly Clinic programme website.