An Annual Comprehensive Wellness Exam is one of the most important things you can do for your cat. Even if your pet has had several veterinary visits during the year due to illness or other problems, please make sure to bring your cat in for his or her annual wellness exam. This comprehensive exam is a much more thorough physical and dental examination than can be done during an illness visit, and will focus on every aspect of care of your pet as a whole with recommendations outlined for keeping your pet healthy. Important parasite preventatives and other medications will be discussed and renewed, and you will also be given the latest information for preventing health problems in your pet. This is a time to address medical, behavioral, nutritional, surgical, and dental concerns and to update any prescriptions. Pets age faster than humans, so a complete physical once a year for your cat is similar to a person having a complete physical every seven years. Once pets reach the age of seven to ten years (50 to 70 in human years), it is recommended that your pet have a comprehensive exam every six months which is like a human having a physical every three years.
Note: Our goal is to help your cat feel relaxed during visits to our hospital. It is best if you do not feed your cat right before a visit when you come for a wellness visit. Your cat will then be more influenced by the treats and tuna that we give to create a positive experience. However, do not withhold food more than few hours before the visit.
What should I bring to my pet’s annual exam besides my pet?
- Please bring a list of the medications you are currently administering to your pet.
- Please bring a list of your questions.
- Please have records sent in advance if your pet has received care at another hospital since your last visit.
- A one inch portion of your pet’s stool for an intestinal parasite exam. A sample less than one day old is best.
- If you desire wellness blood testing (see below), bring a urine sample (if possible-we know this is very hard) in a clean container.
- If for any reason your pet should not eat our treats or does not like our treats, please bring your pet’s favorite treats or toy or blanket or anything that makes them happy.
- Please bring your cat in a carrier with a towel or blanket inside and a towel over the top of the carrier. It is ideal to use a carrier that has a removable top, since some cats prefer to be examined in the security of the carrier.
For more information on getting your cat into the carrier and how to avoid stressing your cat watch the following videos:
Vaccinations: The vaccine needs of your cat will be determined during the annual comprehensive examination. We tailor each cat’s vaccine protocol according to the needs and lifestyle of that cat. Our veterinarians vaccinate each pet selectively and as infrequently as possible, all while ensuring adequate protection against contracting deadly contagious diseases. Animal Hospital of North Asheville uses the best and safest vaccines available for cats. Our protocols are constantly updated using information from noted specialty boards, specialists and organizations such as the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Association of Feline Practitioners.
Vaccinations every cat in this area should have:
You are required by NC law to keep your cat currently vaccinated against rabies at all times, even if your cat never goes outside. Please be careful to never let this vaccine lapse! If your pet’s rabies vaccine has expired and he or she is even possibly exposed to rabies, law enforcement will either seize your pet for a six-month quarantine (away from you) at your expense or can require euthanasia in order to eliminate the risk of transmission to humans. Raccoons, bats, foxes and coyotes, which are all abundant in WNC, are all reservoirs for the rabies virus. We have seen several sad cases where a totally indoor cat with an expired rabies vaccination has been exposed to rabies through a bat in the house. If you think your cat has been possibly exposed to or bitten by a wild or potentially rabid animal, talk with your veterinarian immediately, get a booster vaccination within 5 days, and report it to the local animal control authorities. If your pet has been bitten by an unknown or unvaccinated animal (wild or domestic), your cat must, by law, receive a booster vaccine within 5 days, even if your cat’s rabies vaccination has not expired yet.
There is a great deal of difference in the quality of vaccines available for cats. At Animal Hospital of North Asheville, we use the best and safest vaccines available. Our rabies vaccines for cats are nonadjuvented and each dose costs us much more than a dose of the average rabies vaccine. We use this vaccine because we want our vaccinations to be as safe as possible for your cat even though it costs us more. If your cat has never been vaccinated for rabies before, he or she will receive a one year vaccine. One year later you can choose to booster that first vaccine with a one year or a three year vaccine. It is your choice as there is a difference in the cost of a one year and a three year rabies vaccination for cats.
- Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis and Feline Calicivirus: Upper respiratory infections can be caused by either or both viruses. They are very common infections in unvaccinated cats and can be particularly serious in young kittens and elderly cats. This vaccination is important in that it significantly reduces the severity and duration of the infection.
- Feline Panleukopenia: This virus can cause a severe and often fatal gastroenteritis with profound depression, dehydration, and collapse. It is very contagious to other cats. Widespread vaccination of the local cat population has helped to keep this infection in check, but the disease is still present and your cat will be at risk unless vaccinated.
Vaccination for the following is based on individual risk:
- Feline Leukemia Virus: All it takes for your cat to become infected with feline leukemia virus is for your cat to come in contact with bodily fluids from an infected cat. Any of these situations can put your cat at risk if cats carrying the virus are present: social grooming, common litter boxes, shared food and water bowls and bite wounds. Kittens can contact the disease from their mothers while nursing or while they are still in the womb. The feline leukemia virus causes cancer in about 20% of infected cats and can contribute to other infectious disease or anemia by suppressing the immune system and bone marrow production. We use a nonadjuvented vaccine with an excellent safety record.
It is common for your pet to experience mild side effects from vaccinations. Symptoms are most often mild and usually consist of decreased activity and slight decreased appetite for up to 24 hours. This is a normal response by your pet’s immune system during the process of developing protective immunity. PLEASE CALL US IF YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS at 253-3393.
Parasite Testing and Prevention: Internal and external parasites are common in cats. Our goal is always to prevent problems rather than having to treat them. Achieving this goal will not only achieve a healthier, more comfortable life for your cat, it also protects you and your family from zoonotic diseases as some parasites can infect and transmit diseases to you and your family. Intestinal parasites can affect your cat in a variety of ways, ranging from gastrointestinal upset to causing life-threatening conditions if left untreated. It is important to keep your family and your pet protected by giving monthly parasite prevention year round. We recommend that you use Revolution for Cats topically on your cat every month to prevent problems from intestinal parasites.
The following recommendations help safeguard your pet and reduce the risk to your family.
The Companion Animal Parasite Council recommends that adult pets, even those cats on Revolution which controls the common intestinal parasites, have a test for intestinal parasites performed on a portion of the pet’s bowel movement at least annually. A fecal centrifugation test is used to look for less common parasites such as lungworms, Strongyloides and Giardia. Those with a positive fecal centrifugation test should be dewormed for the specific parasite.
We recommend that every cat have Revolution Topical Drops applied every month just in front of your cat’s shoulder blades to control hookworms, roundworms, fleas, ear mites and heartworms. No other product provides this much protection.
Tapeworm Infection in Cats:
Tapeworms are contracted by swallowing a flea or by eating a rodent. For excellent flea control and to prevent tapeworms, we recommend a topical flea preventative called Revolution for Cats. Cats that are hunters for rodents may need frequent treatment to eliminate tapeworms. There is not a reliable test for tapeworms since tapeworms do not pass large numbers of eggs into the stool as other intestinal parasites do, but if your pet has tapeworms, it is possible you will see quarter to half inch white segments in the stool or near the rectum. When tapeworm segments dry, they look like a grain of rice. Call us if you see these and we will dispense a tapeworm medication as long as your pet’s annual exam is up to date. Tapeworms are not passed directly between animals, so only the affected pet needs to be treated. Dragging the rear might be a sign of tapeworms, but overly full anal glands that need to be expressed are a more common cause of scooting. We can perform anal gland expression for you or teach you to do it.
Ticks are abundant in the spring and summer, especially in Western NC. Ticks are more likely to attach to dogs than cats, but if a tick does attach to your cat, it is important to remove it quickly. To treat and prevent ticks on your cat, discuss with your veterinarian which product is right for your cat. We carry Frontline Plus for cats which can be used for the treatment of ticks and can be used safely along with Revolution for cats as long as the two products are applied 24 hours apart.
Heartworms in cats can be a fatal disease:
Heartworm disease in cats is very different from heartworm disease in dogs. The cat is an atypical host for heartworms, and most worms in cats do not survive to the adult stage. Cats with adult heartworms typically have just one to three worms, and many cats affected by heartworms have no adult worms. While this means heartworm disease often goes undiagnosed in cats, it’s important to understand that even immature worms cause real damage in the form of a condition known as heartworm associated respiratory disease (HARD). Moreover, the medication used to treat heartworm infections in dogs cannot be used in cats, so prevention is the only means of protecting cats from the effects of heartworm disease. Recent studies of cats with heart and respiratory disease have found that the incidence of heartworms is greater than previously thought. Even though heartworm disease is spread by the bite of a mosquito, indoor cats get heartworms, too! About 25% of the cats who have heartworm disease are reported to be totally indoor cats. The mosquitoes that come into the house are just as dangerous as the ones outside.
Signs of heartworm disease in cats can be very subtle or very dramatic. Symptoms may include coughing, asthma-like attacks, periodic vomiting, lack of appetite, or weight loss. Occasionally an affected cat may have difficulty walking, experience fainting or seizures, or suffer from fluid accumulation in the abdomen. Unfortunately, the first sign in some cases is sudden collapse of the cat, or sudden death.
Heartworm infection in cats is harder to detect with blood tests than it is in dogs. Because there is no treatment available that will eliminate adult heartworms in cats, and because Revolution can be administered safely to cats with adult worms, cats do not have to be tested before beginning or continuing Revolution. Our wellness blood panels do include an antibody test for heartworms at no additional charge. Because there is no approved treatment for heartworm infection in cats, prevention is critical. We recommend that you use Revolution for Cats topically once a month all year around to prevent heartworms in your cat. Remember Revolution also prevents problems from many intestinal parasite, fleas, and ear mites.
Annual Wellness Bloodwork and Organ Function Testing:
Cats cannot tell us how they are feeling, so regular bloodwork is one of the best ways to identify health problems early and to monitor response to treatment. We recommend blood tests in your young healthy cat to establish normal values for your feline friend. By repeating blood tests at least annually, your veterinarian is able to monitor trends in organ function and catch potential medical concerns before they become untreatable. Your cat’s veterinarian will recommend a modified (mini) or a comprehensive (full) blood panel depending on many factors including age, lifestyle and health concerns. We always try to recommend the most cost effective panel based on age and other factors, but please speak up if you want to run more extensive blood tests, just to be sure.
- Modified Wellness Bloodwork Panel (Mini): This is the smaller of two panels offered and consists of a complete blood count and the following blood chemistry tests: Glucose, two kidney tests (BUN, creatinine), protein levels, two liver tests (alkaline phosphatase, ALT), and potassium, as well as a urinalysis and a heartworm antibody test.
- Comprehensive Wellness Bloodwork Panel (Full): This is the more extensive panel and consists of a complete blood count and the following blood chemistry tests: Glucose, two kidney tests (BUN, creatinine), protein levels, five liver tests (bilirubin, alkaline phosphatase, ALT, AST, GGTP), cholesterol, triglycerides, calcium, phosphorus, electrolytes, amylase, lipase, CPK, and screening thyroid testing, as well as a urinalysis and a heartworm test.
- Add on testing for Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV): The American Association of Feline Practitioners recommend annual testing. Feline Leukemia and FIV can be carried symptom free for years. They are the most common infectious diseases of cats in this area.