Cat health checklist
As a dedicated cat owner, you’ll want to ensure your kitty stays in tip-top health, so performing a monthly health check is a smart place to start.
Our moggies can’t verbally communicate with us, but there are plenty of clever ways to monitor their physical and mental wellbeing.
You can assess their body condition, skin, eyes, coat and more, alongside behavioural patterns.
While following a checklist helps owners spot red flags early on, you can never rule out every risk.
Sadly, injuries and medical issues often occur out of the blue, which is why it’s so important to ensure your cat’s protected with reliable cover.
Here at Go Get It, we’re kitty lovers, too. Our pet insurance comparison tool helps you find policies suited to your furry friend and your budget.
We’ve put our expertise to good use and created the ultimate cat health checklist for every owner to learn from.
Want to take extra good care of your puss? Read on…
Before you do anything else, you must make sure your furball is fully vaccinated.
Why? Vaccinations protect your kitty from serious infectious diseases and prevent nasty illnesses being passed from pet to pet.
Kittens require two rounds of vaccinations, one at nine weeks of age and the other at the three-month mark. Once they’re fully vaccinated, a cat will need ‘booster’ vaccinations once a year.
According to the RSPCA, vaccinations commonly protect your pussycat from the following:
- Feline leukaemia virus
- Feline infectious enteritis
- Cat flu
If you’re purchasing a kitten from a breeder, they should be able to provide certification verifying that the first set of vaccinations have been given.
Reputable breeders keep kittens with their mothers until they reach eight or nine weeks of age, so the litter should’ve received their first vaccinations before going to their new homes.
Most rescue shelters will have vaccinated kittens before re-homing them, but it’s always best to check and ask for certification.
How do I physically check my cat’s health?
When assessing your pussycat’s health, there are a few key features that require extra attention.
Bear in mind, kitties are often a little less tolerant of close handling than their canine counterparts.
It’s best to take your time, be gentle and, if necessary, protect your hands and face, along with any other exposed areas.
Your checklist should include:
Healthy feline eyes will be clear, bright and fully open – when your cat’s awake! If your four-legged pal is avoiding bright light, squinting or crashing into familiar objects, take them to the vet right away.
Likewise, runny, sore or reddened eyes could indicate a health issue, so play it safe and book your cat in for a veterinary check-up, pronto.
Teeth and mouth
Does your cat have puffy, red or bloody gums? Lots of thick, brown tartar? If you answered yes to either question, your kitty may need a dental assessment.
Likewise, a feline that’s lost interest in food or drops it, salivates more than usual or paws at their mouth may be unwell.
Teeth in optimum condition should either be cream or white, while healthy gums should be black or pink, depending on your feline’s colouring.
Pongy breath is likely linked to excess plaque or bacteria residing on the gums and teeth. Leaving this untreated could trigger gum disease and tooth decay.
At worst, it could even cause organ complications.
Bad breath could also be a symptom of a more serious problem, such as a kidney or digestive issue.
Either way, consult your vet immediately and have the issue examined more closely.
When checking your pussycat’s ears, remember: they are incredibly sensitive and fragile, so examine them carefully.
Never attempt to extensively probe kitty ears or place anything inside them: this could do more harm than good.
If you observe smelly, red or itchy ears, it’s best to take your pet to the vet. Healthy ears should be clean, with no waxy discharge in sight.
Book a full feline health check, including an ear examination, if you notice your kitty excessively rubbing their face on available surfaces around the home, constantly tilting their head to one side or shaking it.
While it’s not the most relaxing of tasks, it’s important to give your moggy’s nails a once-over on a monthly basis if possible.
You can do so by lightly squeezing the pads found on their paws, which causes the nails to become completely visible.
If your feline has unhealthy nails, they’ll be rough or flaky, and you’ll need to consult a vet. Talons in prime condition will be smooth and black or white in colour.
Make sure you check the dew-claws, too. These are located above the paw, on the inner part of your furball’s leg.
Some kitties have them on their front and rear legs, while others only have them on their front legs.
Take a look at your pussycat’s paws at the same time, making sure they’re in healthy, sanitary condition.
If your cat goes outdoors, this is particularly important; in fact, you should clean an outdoor kitty’s paws daily.
Unfortunately, antifreeze is potentially toxic to felines and during wintertime the chance of accidental ingestion is high, as cats may unknowingly walk through it, then swallow it during self-grooming sessions.
You know the sweet yet damp sensation of a cat kiss? That’s the sign of one healthy feline nose!
Kitties’ noses should be soft and slightly moist to the touch; bloody or crusty snouts signal an underlying health problem.
Likewise, if your cat’s sneezing more than normal or you spot discharge oozing from their little nose, it’s possible something’s wrong – especially if you also observe runny eyes, as this could indicate feline flu.
Illness can be unpredictable, so it’s best to have specialist cover from day one. If you’re short on time, don’t worry: Go Get It’s pet insurance comparison service does the legwork for you.
Coat and skin
Your cat’s skin should be black or pink, according to their pigmentation, while feline coats should be shiny, relatively thick and lustrous.
Covered in cat hairs? Don’t worry: kitties shed throughout the year, particularly during summer and autumn months, so it’s worth getting your furry friend used to regular grooming sessions during kittenhood.
Look out for the following signs of trouble:
- White or black spots on the skin
- Inflamed or infected skin
- Itchy, scaly or crusty skin
- Bald patches appearing on your kitty’s coat
- Lots of broken hairs
- Cat acne
If you spot any of these red flags, consult your vet. You can also seek advice on combating nuisance parasites such as ticks and fleas.
How often should I brush my cat’s teeth?
If you can, it’s best to brush your kitty’s teeth twice daily, using a feline toothpaste – these can be found in local pet stores or purchased from your veterinary clinic.
If you’re unable to get near your furball’s fangs without being swiped at, ask your vet to do the honours when you drop in for a check-up.
Serious dental issues can be incredibly expensive to rectify: another reason to get dependable cover.
Go Get It’s pet insurance comparison is tailored to your pet’s specific needs, so there’s no reason you can’t secure a top-notch policy that includes dental issues.
What does healthy cat poo look like?
The ideal cat poop should be firm to the touch, with an evenly brown appearance and no mucus or blood.
Keep close watch over the foods you – and the rest of the family – feed your feline.
If you plan on altering their diet, make the change slowly, rolling it out over a seven to 10-day period. If you notice any difference in their excrement, it’s a good idea to talk to your vet.
Does my cat have a normal appetite?
We all know how unpleasant throwing up can be: for our furry feline friends, it’s even worse.
Being sick requires a lot of energy and effort, so pussycats understandably attempt to avoid it as best they can.
As a result, many kitties are fussy eaters, so don’t be alarmed if your pussycat is picky when it comes to meals.
While cats are known to regurgitate the occasional hairball or meal, regular vomiting, a diminished appetite or changes in digestion could point to an underlying medical problem.
In cases such as these, it’s best to consult a vet.
What’s normal cat behaviour?
Every cat is different. Some are confident and highly affectionate; others are more retiring, opting for solitude over companionship.
Rescue kittens may have suffered serious traumas in the past, which profoundly impact their sociability in later life.
Still, there are certain tell-tale behaviours that could indicate a hidden health problem.
Keep your eyes peeled for the following:
- Excessive sleeping
- A quieter, more subdued demeanour
- Urinating in odd locations around the house
- Avoiding human contact
- Unprovoked aggression
Felines are very self-possessed creatures, so it’s often hard to detect illness, as they’re skilled at hiding it from their humans.
That’s why it’s always wise to err on the side of caution and consult your vet.
Visit Go Get It to run a pet insurance comparison. Knowing your pussycat’s covered in the event of illness or injury means one less headache for you.
How should my cat be breathing?
Unlike dogs, kitties don’t breathe with open mouths. If you see your cat coughing, panting or struggling for breath, take them to a vet straightaway.
Is my cat drinking enough?
Cats are resourceful, highly intelligent creatures.
Felines will find plenty of clever ways to source water, drinking from puddles, dripping taps and more. If your furball doesn’t seem to drink much, as long as they seem healthy, this is probably not a cause for concern.
On the other hand, if your kitten suddenly drinks considerably more or seems excessively thirsty –while maintaining the same level of exercise – there could be something wrong, so talk to your vet as soon as possible.
Owners should always ensure a clean, fresh bowl of water is accessible to their feline, whether or not they’re an indoor or outdoor kitty.
How can I tell whether my cat’s a healthy weight?
You can use Go Get It’s pet insurance comparison to secure specialist cover, but the fact remains: keeping your kitty’s weight at a healthy level helps boost their longevity and overall health, lessening the chance of illnesses occurring.
You can assess a feline’s physical condition by running your hands over their body.
While coat thickness and breed play a part, commonly you should be able to feel and see their ribs with ease.
A feline body of an optimum weight should only have a minor covering of fat, a discernible waist (when viewed from above) and a thin layer of tummy fat.
A healthy cat is able to play, run, climb and do all the things kitties love to do.
Overweight moggies are more vulnerable to joint problems, alongside an additional raft of issues directly linked to an unhealthy weight.
According to Purina, these include:
- Heart disease
- Arthritis, joint pain/damage
- Poor liver function, caused by a fatty liver
- Limited stamina and physical endurance
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heightened surgical and anaesthetic risks
Protecting your cat’s long-term health
It’s well worth following a thorough cat health checklist on a monthly basis.
Doing so increases the likelihood of catching illnesses early, so it’s an essential safeguarding measure all owners should take.
That being said, it’s not always possible to predict when illness or injury might occur.
Veterinary bills can quickly pile up, adding financial stress at an already emotional time. Finding first-rate cover helps you provide your pet with the best possible quality of life, saving pennies if and when medical issues arise.
Go Get It understands what a minefield pet cover can be. As the UK’s only dedicated pet insurance comparison site, we make it our mission to find loving owners the best possible policies to suit your needs and budget – your furball will be in safe hands with us.
Visit Go Get It for a pet insurance comparison and get a quote today.