…to the vet.
Let’s start at the beginning. We scheduled all three of our kitties to go for their annual checkup. Now, to get them there in their carriers, a good suggestion, if you can’t leave the carriers out all year long, is to pull them out a week to 10 days in advance of the vet appointment. Place treats in there now and then to entice your kitties to venture into the carriers. You can also use toys, catnip…any special thing they enjoy. This is to help get them used to the carrier so they’re not as upset when you try to put them inside it.
Unfortunately, I was out of town, and I didn’t think to ask my husband to put out the carriers while I was gone. So I pulled the carriers out when I got home on Saturday night and threw treats in them. I don’t know who it was, but someone enjoyed all of the treats. However, when it came time to put the kitties in carriers on Monday morning, to say they were not happy is a major understatement.
Lucky and Tigger were lounging in the sunshine out on the back patio. (Don’t worry. We have a fenced-in yard and they are 15, so they don’t try to get out of the yard much.) Since Tallulah was the only one in the house, we thought “Why don’t we just get her, put her in a crate, and the boys will never know the difference.” Tallulah had plans for her day and getting in the crate was not one of them. Michael held the carrier up on its back end, and I held her tucked in my right arm with her back paws caught in my left hand. Often this is an easy way to put a cat into a carrier. Tallulah was as slippery as a wet eel. Finally, after three or four minutes with finagling, we got our little girl into the carrier without injury to anyone. That is pretty impressive. I wasn’t as lucky getting her back into the carrier when we were ready to leave the vet. I have healed nicely, though.
One pleasant thing that happened (sarcastically) is that once we got crazy little Tallulah into her crate, there was a musky, nose curling odor. We thought she might have pooped herself, but it didn’t really smell like it. We weren’t going to try to find out until we got to the vet’s office because there was noooo way we were letting her out of her crate. We could clean her up once we got to our destination. So we drove to the vet’s office with the car windows down. Luckily for us it was a nice day. (It turns out that cats, in stressful situations, can secrete odorous oils from scent glands (anal sacs). Well, there’s a new bit of information for me.
We took the other two carriers outside onto the back patio and Tigger took off. It took three trips around the fenced-in yard, slowly so we didn’t scare him, to get Tigger relaxed to the point we could pick him up and put him into the carrier. Lucky was nice. He was like “What the heck. I’ll go.” There is always that one cat who makes you think “Why can’t they all be like this?”
We then seat-belted all of the carriers into the back seat. We ran the seat belts through the handles of the carriers and into the seal belt snaps. As we rode to the vet’s office, we were treated to a lovely chorus from the kitties crying or fussing in one way or another. Tigger cried the entire trip, but, when we got to the vet’s office and opened his carrier, he chose not to come out. He just laid in it and stared at the wall hoping we would forget he was there.
We arrived at Valley Veterinary Associates for the babies’ annual checkup at around 9:45 a.m. Stephanie, our veterinary technician, escorted us to an exam room and weighed each of the kitties. Tigger weighed in at 8.8 pounds, 1.5 pounds less than last year. Lucky weight 10.6 pounds, down .3 of a pound since last year. Tallulah weighed 9 pounds even, only down .06 of a pound. Then our wonderful vet, Dr. Melissa Maxwell, joined us and the detailed examination began. As she examined everyone, she explained to us what she was doing and looking for at each stage.
When your vet is looking into your cat’s eyes with the little light, they are looking for infections, cataracts and to see if there’s any changes to the health of the eye in general. If the eye doesn’t look as healthy as it should, the vet can choose to do further tests.
When your vet looks into your cat’s ears, they are searching for ear mites, possible infection, or if polyps have developed. Polyps can trap bacteria creating issues like irritation and infection.
When you see your vet palpating the belly of your cat, they’re searching for any distention or compaction of areas of your kitty’s belly. This could be an indicator of blockage in the intestines, foreign bodies or masses in the area, or constipation. More common among males is a urinary blockage, and this can be found during this examination. This type of blockage occurs because crystals in the urine are not expelled from the body. They build up and settle in the urethra, become compacted and block the urinary tract. This is dangerous for cats, and can be fatal.
We love that our vet’s office takes a lot of measures to try to minimize the stress for its patients. Many cats don’t like the smell of other animals and of the sanitizers used to keep the office free of germs, so they use Feliway spray (a calming, synthetic pheromone copy of the facial pheromone of cats). The vet technicians put it on their gloves, on blankets if they’re wrapping a cat, and, when a cat is getting blood work done, they spray it on the counters.
Dr. Maxwell mentioned that some pet parents use medication when bringing a pet in for their check up. I had never thought of this. One of the most well-known is Acepromazine. This is a tranquilizer that, when used, outwardly the dog appears calm and groggy. However, research has shown that this only makes the pet easier to handle. The dog is still stressed and their stress levels are just as high as if they hadn’t had the medication at all. This medication also causes your pet to be groggy for up to 8 hours. As a result, it is now recommended to use newer, anti-anxiety medications as a replacement.
An annual check-up is vital for cats because there are many illnesses a cat can have of which you would not be aware without that annual check-up and possible blood work. A perfect example is Lucky. He has been healthy and, other than the fact that he has suffered occasional seizures for 14 years that have caused some minor brain damage and dementia, he’s fine. When we got the results from his blood work, after a not-so-pleasant time for his wonderful vet technician, Stephanie, it showed that his BUN and phosphorus levels were a little high. These are very early warning signs of potential kidney deterioration. Lucky’s Creatinine levels were fine, which is good. Armed with the knowledge about his other levels, we can take action now to help keep him healthy and snuggling with us for many more years. Typically a low-protein diet is prescribed initially.
Had Lucky not gone for his physical, had his teeth checked (he does need to go for a dental cleaning once we get his kidney levels closer to normal) and had his blood work, we would have no idea that anything was changing in his healthy looking body.
Another example. A little over a year ago someone was throwing up occasionally in our home. The problem was that the kitty was doing it when no human was around. We were asleep or at work. We could tell they weren’t regurgitating hairballs. We tried for a couple of weeks, but we could not figure out who it was. There were no other symptoms…or so we thought. Since we have 3 cats, how do you figure out who is the culprit and get them to the vet for treatment? My answer – You don’t. Time for a trip to the vet for EVERYONE to find out what was going on.
It turns out that there were two small changes that we hadn’t noticed. In reality, our Tigger hadn’t gained the few ounces like he normally did during the winter months, and he no longer snuggled under blankets. His blood work showed that he had hyperthyroidism. With hyperthyroidism a cat tends to lose weight and will generally “run warm” so Tigger didn’t gain weight and no longer needed to be curled up under the blankets to keep himself warm during the winter chill. Time for oral medication, iodine restricted prescription diet, or radioactive iodine treatments. We chose to try to oral medication for now.
All of us survived the annual checkup, and it is a fading memory. Hopefully we will all be here next year to do it again!
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