There are important reasons to keep a close eye on our cats. They tend to hide their illnesses and injuries. It’s just who they are. Their genetically programmed reality puts the responsibility for their well-being on their people.

Cats are wonderful pets but in many respects they are very different than we are. Unlike people and dogs, cats don’t call out to their comrades when they are sick or hurt. They tend to get small and hide out as they do their best to heal on their own. This doesn’t always end well.

In this 8 minute video I will show you how to do a physical exam on your cat. You’ll learn how to find internal problems early. I have used my own cat Whitey for purposes of demonstration. I have included a couple of good diagrams that illustrate the location of internal organs.

Here is the order I follow whenever I examine a cat, whether sick or healthy.

  1. Check the kitty’s mouth. Under a bright light look at the color of his gums. They should be pink.
  2. Teeth have a lot to do with anybody’s well-being. Check for excess tartar or fractures.
  3. Move a bright light slowly to your cat’s eyes so you can check for redness, discharge, or uneven pupils.
  4. Have a look and a sniff of your cat’s ears; infections are common.
  5. Check the lymph nodes under your cat’s lower jaw. They should be difficult or impossible to feel.
  6. Skin turgor is a good way of checking hydration status. Pull up on your cat’s skin to see how fast it returns.
  7. Skin and hair are important. Look carefully for flaking, hair loss, or redness.
  8. Your cat’s rear end can hold important secrets. Check her genitals and anus.
  9. Using the flats of your fingers you should gently palpate your cat’s abdomen. Feel for swellings or discomfort.
  10. You can use any stethoscope to listen for lung sounds and a healthy heart rhythm.
    • Normal resting heart rate 120-140
    • Normal respiratory rate 16-40
    • Normal temperature 100-102
  11. Feel each of your kitty’s limbs, checking for swelling or pain.
  12. You can get an ideal of your cat’s neurological well-being by watching her walk and jump.

Gather information then call the veterinary clinic if you have any concerns.

Symptoms matter too. Keep a log of anything you notice.

Appetite

Activity:  cats who don’t feel well might tend to hang out in one spot.

Require your cat to run and jump. Watch for rapid breathing.

Is he sleeping more or restless?

Are his stools normal and regular?

Has there been any vomiting, coughing, or sneezing?

Never be concerned that your veterinarian may be too busy for your worries. It’s our job to make sure that we find problems early, before they reach a crisis point.

Remember to always be suspicious that your sneaky little cat might be hiding something important from you.

She loves you and wants a long and excellent life with you. Examine your cat once a month whether you feel concerned or not. She’s a cat and she will always behave like one. It’s not in her nature to complain.

I hope this video has been helpful. You are welcome to share it with your cat loving family and friends.

All the best,

Jeff Nichol, DVM