I used to constantly wonder whether Blue was healthy. What if she was secretly suffering from some unknown disease under my nose? what if that annoying meowling was more than a hungry cry for food? To calm my neurotic monster, I’ve learnt to look out for signs of good health, as well as potential red flags. This is the checklist I use, taking every opportunity to snorgle and squee in between.
1. Body shape and size. You should not be able to feel the backbone and ribs easily, but there shouldn’t be belly flab hanging down either. You know what I mean.. that flab that swings back and forth as kitty runs towards the kibble. It’s like that flab that hangs down below your arms. (In Cantonese we call that “bai bai flab” because it wobbles when you wave bye-bye.) The chart below will tell you what the ideal size is for your cat. Your cat may be cute when he looks like Garfield, but it’s really not worth the heartache and extensive medical bills.
2. Coat condition. Check for a greasy feeling or dandruff. The coat should smell neutral, not fishy or rancid. Bad smells may be from bad breath transferred during grooming . Pull the coat up gently, it should fall back in place quickly. If not, your cat may be dehydrated.
3. Teeth. Brownish buildup indicates tartar, which if ignored could eventually lead to health complications. Breath should not be overpowering. Gums should be healthy pink, irritation or a red line along the gums means that they are inflamed.
4. Ears. They should also be light pink and not red. Should not have odor or waxy buildup, Scratching may also be a sign of dirty irritable ears.
5. Eyes. Should be clear and bright. No excessive discharge, none that is yellow or green. Lower eyelids should not be red or irritated.
6. Elimination. Done daily with out too much strain. Stool should be pliable, but not runny. Urine should smell of ammonia slightly but clear. Warning signs include constipation, cloudy or bloody urine, or unusual smells. Do not wait too long before you contact your vet with concerns as toxins can build up very quickly!
(Contrary to popular belief, inappropriate elimination is not just emotional reaction but triggered by stress/ changes in the environment, even something as small as a new floor cleanser. Blue would have accidents when I cleaned out the litter box with a mild bleach solution. Thankfully meticulous rinsing cleared that up right away!)
If you do have concerns over any unusual behavior, (excessive drinking, loss of appetite, unusual lethargy) you can also take your cats temperature with a rectal thermometer. Normal temperature should be 100.5 to 102.5 farenheit.
This is just a basic list. There may be other issues that aren’t covered so don’t hesitate to delve deeper or call your vet if you have any concerns.
Thanks for reading and hope your kitty is fit and Ayee-Ohkay!