Annual Exam Needs for an Older Cat

A Thorough Exam is Even More Important than the Vaccinations


I have been disappointed with the short visits when I take my 12 year-old kitty for her annual check-up. The last visit took less than 5 minutes, which included only her receiving shots. After the doctor dismissed us, I had to ask him to please check her teeth. What should a doctor check annually–even though our kitty lives indoors and looks healthy?

Dr. Nichol:

A growing number of people want better health and more good years with their pets. The bar is being raised for what veterinary medicine delivers-as well it should.


Vaccinations have been boostered annually for a long time, but the yearly exam may actually be more important. Thorough health care also means checking for signs of heart or lung disease, skin, breast, or abdominal masses, ear infections, kidney problems, bladder stones, anal gland trouble, dental disease, thyroid tumors, lymph node swellings, and a whole lot more. Because cats and dogs age much faster than we do, a wellness exam is advised every 6 months for senior pets like your kitty. Many veterinarians go the extra step of taking an annual lab profile.


Preventing infectious disease is just as important as ever. But now vaccines are better and longer lasting. Your cat’s doctor needs to look for the early signs of important problems so he can get after them early enough to make a difference. The population of cats over age 20 is growing. Most are still playing bridge; a few still get out on the shuffle board court. Life is good. Share every great year you can with that cat who loves you.