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Breaking Down the Feline Annual Exam

This post is meant to breakdown what we at CSAH call a "feline yearly." Cats are now the number one pet in America, but very few Americans bring their cats in for annual exams. As with dogs, it is highly recommended to bring your cat in for an annual visit every year. Vaccines and a good physical examination are essential to feline preventative care. Here is a breakdown of our feline yearlys:

Feline annual examination:

  1. FVRCP
  2. FeLV Vaccine
  3. Rabies Vaccine
  4. Nail Trim (if desired)
  5. Annual Bloodwork
  6. Full Physical Examination

1. FVRCP: a combination booster with a lot of letters representing different diseases – we will break down the acronym below:

  • FVR: stands for Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis and calicivirus – these two viruses cause upper respiratory tract infections in cats that are easily transmitted from cat to cat. Kittens are more often affected, but unprotected cats can easily be infected. Once infected, many cats become a carrier of these viruses for life.
  • C: stands for Chlamydophilia– this is a bacterial infection that causes respiratory disease in cats. It is highly contagious, especially in kittens. It can cause infection in the eyes and the lungs if it is left untreated.
  • P: stands for panleukopenia – this is the feline distemper virus. This is a highly infectious disease that can survive in the environment for up to a year! Treatment of this disease is very difficult and the prognosis, once infected, is typically poor.

2. FeLV Vaccine – a vaccination agaisnt Feline Leukemia. This disease is the leading cause of death in cats in North America and can cause very serious health problems in cats. Cats can develop cancerous leukemia and secondary infections throughout the body. Cats can be carriers of this disease for months or years before showing clinical signs.

3. Rabies Vaccine – required by law. We usually start giving a 3 year vaccine to cats after they have had two one year vaccines in a row. We will give each cat a current rabies tag at every annual visit. See our previous blog post for more information on rabies.

4. Nail Trim – a complimentary pedicure for any cat that wants one. This is done much less often than in dogs, but is actually easier to do on a well-mannered cat. 

5. Annual Bloodwork – this is optional, but highly encouraged as your cat begins to age. We have two options available, depending on your cat’s current health status and age:

  • Junior Profile: a mini-chemistry panel checking liver and kidney values, blood glucose, thyroid (T4) levels, a complete blood count looking at red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, and a heartworm antigen test. We recommend this bloodwork for cats once they turn 3-4 years old and annually after that until your pet reaches their “senior years.”
  • Senior Profile: a full chemistry panel with a more in depth look at liver and kidney function, electrolytes, blood glucose, thyroid (T4) levels, a complete blood count looking at red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, a urinalysis and a heartworm antigen test. We recommend this bloodwork for cats once they reach 7-8 years old. This is also a good panel for any cat that has been sick or having urinary issues. 

6. Full Physical Examination - there is nothing more valuable to a veterinarian than a physical examination. Looking at every aspect of your pet every year helps to keep track of your pet as they age. We can make sure any lumps or bumps are not changing significantly and check for early signs disease, especially heart disease and dental disease in aging kitties. There have been several cases where a cat comes in for annual vaccines, and a very significant disease has been found and treated just from a good physical examination. 

Hopefully this has been a good break down of our typical feline yearly examination. We would love to see more cats coming in for annual for vaccines in 2014. We see many dogs annually for vaccines, but cats do not come in nearly as often, and it is just as important! Please post a comment if you have any questions. Call us today at 615-377-4959 to schedule your pet’s annual exam!