It’s a common misconception that indoor cats don’t need to go to the vet. While it’s true that contagious feline illnesses are often contracted via contact with animals in the outside world, there are nonetheless many reasons that regular vet visits are important for indoor cats, from the administration of legally required vaccines to catching issues before they become serious.
Why Do Indoor Cats Need to Go to the Vet?
Indoor cats can develop many illnesses and conditions that have nothing to do with the outside world, such as issues with weight, hormone problems, genetic conditions, and tumors, among other maladies, so it’s important for them to see the vet for regular check-ups.
Plus, even if they never leave the house, indoor cats can be affected by the outside world, particularly if they’re exposed to any other pets that go outside, such as your dog; someone else’s pet who comes to visit; the occasional stray who wanders into the backyard; or a foster pet. Rodents can also become part of the household without your knowledge. Finally, even you and your family members may inadvertently bring in dangers from outside.
How Often Do Indoor Cats Need to See the Vet?
Indoor cats should go to the vet at least once a year, because they need annual vaccinations and annual check-ups. Pets age at a much faster rate than we do, so your pet’s health can change a lot in just a year. Some veterinarians recommend that senior cats (those 9 years of age and older) have a check-up every 6 months.
As you know, pets can’t talk to us, and cats in particular are very good at hiding pain and illness. They have a natural instinct to hide any signs of weakness, a skill that would keep them from being easy targets for predators and competitors in the wild.
However, the fact that they’re so good at keeping problems hidden means that by the time they show any symptoms, the problem has likely already become advanced.
Prevention is often far easier, less expensive, and more effective than treatment when it comes to health issues, which is why it’s vital to keep abreast of any changes in your indoor cat’s health through annual vet visits.
Even subtle changes could signal diseases that could be developing—diseases you should catch and handle before it’s too late.
Do Indoor Cats Still Need Vaccinations?
The rabies vaccine is required by law in New York State for all cats over the age of 6 months, regardless of whether they’re an indoor or outdoor cat.
The core FVRCP vaccine is also recommended for indoor cats, as it protects against three potentially deadly viruses. These viruses are airborne, which means your indoor cat could still contract them.
Even if they never leave the house, indoor cats can still develop many illnesses and conditions, and they still need vaccinations, so it’s important to take them to the vet for an annual check-up.
Weight Management for Indoor Cats
A common health problem that many indoor cats share is weight management. Over a quarter of all cats are obese, and indoor cats are particularly susceptible. While some indoor cats may love to play, they tend to lead mostly sedentary lives, which can inevitably lead to some weight gain.
It can be difficult for owners to recognize that their pet is overweight. Because you see your cat on a daily basis, gradual changes in their weight can be hard to detect, but those gradual changes can add up over time.
Gaining even a pound can make a huge difference in the health of an animal as small as a cat and can significantly affect their long-term health. Being overweight makes cats a lot more susceptible to diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis.
Veterinarians can help monitor your cat’s weight and provide nutritional advice and recommendations for keeping your cat at a healthy weight.
Dental Disease in Indoor Cats
One of the most overlooked medical issues in cats is dental disease. Even with the best of diets, cats can develop a buildup of plaque on their teeth, as well as inflammation of their gums (gingivitis). Without proper veterinary care, these conditions can lead to oral discomfort, difficulty eating, and even tooth loss. Cats can also develop dental resorptive lesions, which are very uncomfortable and require veterinary care. A thorough oral examination during your cat’s check-up is essential to keep her mouth healthy and pain-free.
It’s very important for indoor cats to see the vet at least once a year. This will ensure that they get the vaccinations they need, and enable you to detect and act on any health issues that may be developing before it’s too late.