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C2006-34

Dear Christopher Cat

My veterinarian vaccinates my cat, Misty, every three years. Misty is five years old, never goes outside, and always has been healthy. May we skip her annual veterinary visits and see the vet only when she needs vaccinations?

Christopher Responds

No. Annual physicals play an essential role in preventing illness and detecting problems early, when treatment is most effective.

Because more things go wrong as we age, Misty should begin seeing her veterinarian every six months when she turns seven or eight.

At that time, ask your veterinarian to do blood work and a urinalysis.

One study analyzed the lab work of 100 seemingly healthy cats over seven years of age and found that nine cats had kidney disease, six were hyperthyroid and one had diabetes.

We cats can’t tell you when we feel yucky. We count on you to take us to the veterinarian, who can figure these things out.

For example, my brother Domino developed diabetes, but Mom recognized and treated it early, so he didn’t lose weight, acquire an infection or develop nerve problems in his back legs.

Similarly, my cat friend Harry’s overactive thyroid gland was detected during his semi-annual physical exam.

His veterinarian prescribed a medication to prevent the weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea and heart problems that accompany untreated hyperthyroidism.

Finally, my cat friend Crystal was diagnosed with periodontal disease during her annual exam.

Her veterinarian removed the plaque and tartar from her teeth and treated her mouth infection with an antibiotic – and undoubtedly saved her from life-threatening kidney disease in the process.

So take Misty to the veterinarian every year while she’s young, and every six months once she reaches middle age. You and Misty will be glad you did.

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