PREVENTIVE MEDICINE CALENDAR
- Feed a balanced diet. Groom cat as demanded by coat type and cat’s habits.
- Observe cat’s general external appearance, attitude, activity, and appetite. Any change may indicate a need for complete physical examination.
- Clean litter pan, observe cat’s stool, and, if possible, also observe the urine. For outdoor cats, look for evidence of abnormal stool on coat or behavior that may indicate urinary obstruction.
- Clean teeth if necessary..
- Examine for external parasites and treat as necessary.
- Examine ears.
- Clean teeth if necessary.
- Administer hairball preventative.
Every two weeks:
- Check claw length and appearance and trim, if necessary. Examine teeth if weekly cleaning is not necessary.
- Examine mammary glands.
- Bathe, if necessary.
Every six months:
- Perform a complete physical examination if one has not been indicated earlier.
- Take a fecal sample to a veterinarian, particularly if there is an internal parasite problem in your area.
- Take your cat to a veterinarian for a physical examination and booster vaccinations as necessary.
Preventive medicine is the best kind of medicine. Your veterinarian practices it when he or she vaccinates your cat for certain communicable diseases. You can practice it by giving your cat good regular care at home, as discussed in this section. If you practice preventive medicine regularly, the occasions when your cat will need the care of a veterinarian can often be limited to yearly physical examinations and booster vaccinations. In the long run, preventive medicine will save you money and result in fewer stresses on your cat’s body.
INDOOR VERSUS OUTDOOR CATS
One of the best preventive medicine practices for cats is to keep them inside. This applies particularly to city cats and to cats who live in neighborhoods heavily populated with other cats, dogs, and people. Strict enclosure is not necessary; a system whereby your cat spends the most time indoors and is supervised outdoors is just about as satisfactory in health terms. However, do not allow your cat to roam without restriction or force your cat outdoors if you would like to avoid frequent trips to the veterinarian. Also be sure to provide your cat with a safe collar, an identification tag, and a collar bell if he or she is allowed outdoors. As long as their owners give them enough opportunities for physical and mental stimulation, indoor cats and cats that stick close to home when outdoors miss out on nothing necessary for a happy, healthy life; and they experience infectious disease, automobile accidents, poisoning, gunshot wounds, and cat fights much less frequently than their roaming peers.
Roaming cats are responsible for serious predation of small wildlife and songbirds, so the least an owner who allows his or her cat outdoors without supervision can do is provide an effective collar bell. Make the decision whether your cat is to have access to the outdoors early, then stick to it. Cats kept indoors when young usually show little desire to roam, even when allowed outside later in life.