Here is a simple 10-point daily health check that I suggest in my book 250 Things You Can Do to Make Your Cat Adore You And trust me, do this and your cat will adore you!
1. Run your hand slowly from stem to stern along kitty’s body, feeling gently for lumps and bumps, seeing if your cat appears sensitive to the touch anywhere, parting the hair to check for fleas, hair loss, an ear infection, you name it. This is the kitty equivalent of getting a back rub every day and will bond your cat to you like glue.
2. Look into your cats’ eyes. Don’t forget to blink adoringly or your cat will think you have gone off the deep end. Are the eyes weepy? Is the skin inside the eye at the inner corner covering part of the eye, rather than being almost imperceptible and flat? That is your cat’s nictitating membrane, and it may be trying to tell you that kitty is under the weather and that further investigation is in order.
3. Very gently pull back the skin around kitty’s gums (while rubbing his face for fun) and see how those teeth are doing. Do they need cleaning.If the gums are white or very pale, your cat could be parasitized.
Sniff kitty’s breath. Is that home cooking or is it something rotten?
4. Sneak a peek under kitty’s tail. This is a delicate maneuver that can cause deep, lasting offense, so take it easy. It may work to incorporate the upper-tail inspection into some serious rump scratching, which will make your cat raise his tail. Is everything clean and shipshape? Or are there surprises, e.g., a prolapsed rectum (the skin has popped out and is distended) or the sort of untidiness that can mean parasitism or an upset tummy?
5. Squeeze each toe very, very gently, until the nails come out and you can look for breakages or abnormalities.
6. Look (and smell) inside ears. If you see gunk, put a tiny bit of mineral oil on a cotton swab and wipe gently. If those black dots move or jump, you’ll need ear mite medicine. These mites particularly annoy the owner of the ear. To deal with them you will have to very gently dig all around your cat’s cavernous, convoluted ears, and that is a big job. Infection greets your nose with a little zing and requires analysis before a remedy can be chosen. If your cat digs in an ear or two or shakes his head a lot, there could be a problem that deserves attention.
7. Rub your fingers lightly under and between your cat’s paw pads in case a Spanish doubloon or prickly object is uncomfortably lodged there and could lead to infection.
8. Look at kitty’s haircoat. See if it is shinny (not greasy, which is a sign of ill health) and has elasticity, i.e., if you take up a fold of skin on kitty’s back and then let go, it knows where it is supposed to be and springs right back where it belongs. If the skin “sits there” or very slowly returns to take its place as part of the great cat body, your cat may be dehydrated. If the coat is dull, perhaps kitty is parasitized and needs a stool sample dropped off at the vet’s.
9. Brush away excess hair with any effective brush from a pet supply store or catalog. Most cats prefer plastic to metal—there’s something scary about steel.
A CARDINAL RULE: When it comes to your beloved’s health, there are two good slogans to adopt: “Better safe than sorry,” and “Rather a vet than regret.” If in doubt as to your cat’s condition, call. … Just ask yourself, it were you, would you wait?