Fall 2023

At-home cat checkup guide

Tips for keeping tabs on your tabby’s health between veterinary visits.

Cats can be mysterious when it comes to their health. But a monthly home check-up goes a long way when it comes to catching health problems before they become more serious. Set up a log, using a spreadsheet or writing software, or just keep a dedicated notebook to note monthly results and track trends.

Get comfortable with your cat on the same day each month and take notes. Follow up on any concerns with your cat’s veterinary healthcare team. Here’s what to look for:

Start with your overall observations

Stand back and look at your cat for a few minutes. Consider how they are standing and walking, how active they are, and how healthy their coat looks. A thin or dry coat, obviously visible ribs, unusual positioning of the ears, dull eyes or limping are concerning, but even if none of these signs are present, you know your cat best. If you suspect something is “off,” even if you aren’t sure what it is, it might be worth a check-in with your veterinarian.

Get an accurate weight

Stand on a scale while holding your cat and note the total weight. Step on the scale again without your cat and subtract your solo weight to get your cat’s weight. A healthy cat typically weighs about 8 to 10 pounds, but the range can be wide. (Really big cats such as a male Maine Coon can have a healthy weight of 15 pounds.) Your cat is normal for their body type if a thin layer of fat lies over the ribs, but you can still feel the ribs if you press your hands gently in. Your veterinarian should help you determine your cat’s ideal weight. A difference of a half-pound up or down can be normal over the course of a few months; anything more rapid, either a gain or a loss, could be reason for concern.

long-haired cat looking up from a scale

Move on to the body

Start just behind the ribs and gently press your hands into the abdomen and move gently towards your cat’s tail. You should find no lumps, bumps or masses that you haven’t noticed before, and your pet should feel no discomfort as you press gently into them. Anything you’re not used to feeling is a concern, as is discomfort or difficulty breathing as you press gently. A hard, tense or swollen abdomen is also an issue to note for discussion with your veterinarian. 

Look ‘em in the eye, nose and ears

Take a good look at their head. You want the nose clean of discharge, and you don’t want to see a cracked, scabbed, bloody or irritated nose. Ears should be clean, dry, smooth and odor-free. Eyes should be bright and clear, with pupils of equal size. The whites of the eye should not appear colored and should have only a few visible blood vessels. Pupils should shrink equally if a light is shined into either eye and enlarge if the cat is excited or scared or if the room is darkened. Your cat’s third eyelids should not be visible.

Gently examining the eye of a kitten

Breathe easy, kitty

You should be able to notice your cat’s chest moving easily in and out as they breathe. Any unusual noise heard while the pet is breathing, such as wheezes, could indicate a problem, especially if you haven’t noticed the sound before. Breathing that is labored, rapid or done with an open mouth, and excessively involves the abdomen is a concern. At rest, a cat should breathe less than 30 breaths per minute, roughly. 

Check those pearly whites and pink gums

Your cat’s teeth should be clean, with gums that are uniformly pink. Press on your cat’s gum with your finger or thumb and release quickly. The color will become white where you pressed the gum but should return to the same color as the surrounding tissue within one or two seconds. Loose or missing teeth are reason for concern, as is tartar buildup or gums that are red or blue, pale, inflamed or sore. Gums should be moist just above the teeth, not dry or tacky to the touch, and they should not be receding from the tooth. Check for a swollen tongue, lumps or sores in the mouth, as well as excessive salivating or drooling, bad odor, lip smacking or difficulty swallowing.

Lifting the corners of a cat's mouth to examine the teeth and gums

Hydration, hydration, hydration

Some cats struggle to retain adequate fluid levels. Pull your cat’s skin just behind the shoulder blades into a tent and then release quickly. The skin should gently fall immediately back into position if your cat is well-hydrated.

If everything checks out as normal, make your notes and give your kitty a lovely petting session and a nice little treat or game. If anything seems awry, get in touch with your cat’s veterinary healthcare team for a full checkup.

Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet

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