Although you undoubtedly know your cat very well, recognizing when she is sick is probably far from easy. This is primarily due to a natural instinct that she has to try and mask illness so that she doesn’t appear vulnerable to people and other animals around her. Nevertheless, there is only so long that she can do this for before she becomes so unwell that it is impossible to hide. Unfortunately, if this happens it can mean that her illness has progressed to a point where it has already caused damage, sometimes that is irreversible, to her body. Managing or treating her condition may be difficult if not impossible. This is especially true for older felines whose deteriorating immune system and body functions makes it that much harder for them to fight sickness. As a result, many illnesses can progress much faster than they would do in a healthy adult cat.
About early detection testing
The good news is that you don’t have to wait for symptoms to manifest before getting your senior feline the medical help she needs. Early detection testing, also referred to by other names such as wellness examinations and wellness checks, are used to monitor and track certain aspects of your cat’s health and wellbeing.
Exactly what is included in early detection testing tends to vary between veterinarians, but typically comprises of the following:
You can expect two different blood tests to be undertaken. These are:
A full blood count
A blood chemistry profile
A full blood count looks at the number of red/white cells that are present in the sample taken. If insufficient red blood cells are found, your senior kitty could be anemic. However, if there are an abnormally high number of white blood cells, this would indicate that her body is already trying to fight off illness. Meanwhile, a blood chemistry profile assess the balance of the difference chemicals that are present in the sample and can tell your vet a great deal about how well your older cat’s organs are functioning.
Urine samples are standard requests during early detection testing. This is because her urine can provide your veterinarian with important information about how well her kidneys, liver and bladder are working. Urinary tract infections are common in cats, particularly as they age, and this is the best way of detecting one.
Thyroid problems can occur in cats of any age, but they are nearly always exclusive to senior felines with less than 6% of cases being diagnosed in cats under 10 years of age. Since thyroid problems can significantly shorten your feline’s lifespan, testing is usually included in early detection testing appointments so that any signs of the condition can be caught early.
In addition to these tests, a full, physical examination of your pet will be provided. This gives your vet the opportunity to check for any physical abnormalities that may have developed since the previous appointment that could, along with the results of the aforementioned tests, indicate that there is an underlying health condition that requires management or treatment.
Exactly how often your senior cat will need early detection testing will depend on her age and her current health, but you can expect your vet to recommend a minimum of one wellness appointment every 6 months, maybe sooner.
By ensuring that your senior cat undergoes early detection testing on a regular basis, you can be sure that if any health problems develop, they are diagnosed and treated as promptly as possible. In doing so, she has the best chance at living out a comfortable and active ‘retirement’ for as long as possible. If you would like to find out more about early detection for your senior cat, or if you want to make an appointment at Shores animal hospital in Gainesville, FL, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.