How To Have A Healthy Happy Cat

Giving your cat a simple monthly examination can help prevent potential problems for years, here's what to look for.

We all have the tendency to take our pets for granted, butyou're making a big mistake if you do so. Cat owners, inparticular, share the erroneous belief that their four footedcompanions know what's best for them and rarely thinkabout their pet's diet or health until the animal becomes visibly ill.

The truth is, smart as cats are, you're smarter! With minimaleffort - essentially a once a month home examination andyearly veterinarian exam, you can avert a variety of problemsand unnecessary trips to the vet, and keep your cat asfit as it ought to be for life.

1.  Have you noticed any recent changes in your cat'sattitude or behavior, such as listlessness, restlessness,loss of appetite, aggression?

2.  Does your cat's coat look dull or feel dry, brittle, orgreasy?

3.  Are his whiskers short or broken?

4.  Using your hand, brush your cat's hair backwards fromtail to head. His skin should be a normal grayish white.Is the skin a healthy color, or is it red and irritated? Isthe tail area greasy with sparse hair?

5.  Also look carefully for fleas or any little blackflecks (the excrement of fleas) on the skin. Do you see any?

6.  Does the neck, back or base of the tail show any lesions?

7.  Smell your hand after running it through yourcat's fur. Your fingers should not have an unpleasantfishy, rancid odor.

8.  Are you able to feel good muscle tone aroundthe sternum (breastbone)? If should not be soft orflaccid.

9.  Do you feel a firm muscle mass when you run your hand down your cat's spine and over the ribcage? There should not be more than a pinch of fat.

10.  Open your cat's mouth and smell his breath.It should smell clean and not have an offensive odor.Does it smell clean?

11.  Look at the gums. They should be pink, not pale or white, nor should they be swollen, bright red,or bleeding.

12.  Check the teeth. Do they look white and healthy?They should be free of tartar and not loose.

13.  Examine your cat's eyes. Are they clear of filmand free of mucous discharge? Is there any crustingaround them?

14.  Feel the inner side of your cat's thighs. Arethere any roundish bumps or swellings? These couldindicate enlarged lymph nodes and usually thepresence of worms.

15.  Is your pet's stomach unusually distended?

16.  Look at the paw pads. Are they smooth withoutdry, cracking lines?


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