Cats usually live longer than most dogs and it is no longer unusual for them to live until 20 or beyond. How long an individual cat will live depends on many factors such as genetics, whether kept indoors or not, type of diet and of course the appropriate veterinary care he/she receives.
The rule of thumb is that at about age 7, a cat is considered to be middle-aged. At age 10 and above, a cat is considered to be mature. Over 15-17 they qualify as a geriatric kitty.
One year for a cat is equivalent to four human years. Many changes can take place in what for us, is a fairly short period of time. That is why the American Veterinary Medical Association as well as the American Association of Feline Practitioners now recommend twice yearly physical exams plus appropriate blood work on all cats who are 7-8 years old or above.
Arlington Cat Clinic recommends a physical exam every 6 months for our geriatric cats, including:
Hopefully many health problems which are not readily detected in other ways can be caught early on and appropriate steps taken to ensure continued well-being and a longer life for your cat.
WHAT'S IN AN ANNUAL PHYSICAL EXAM?
It includes an evaluation of the overall appearance of the cat - weight, demeanor, respiration, hair coat
Eyes - clear, discharge, redness, discoloration of the iris, pupil size
Ears - cleanliness, ear mites, yeast, wax, growths
Nose - discharge, congestion
Mouth/throat - inflammation, condition of teeth, growths
Heart and lungs - irregularities, abnormal rate, murmurs, abnormal lung sounds
Neck - palpate for thyroid tumors, lymph node size
Abdomen - palpate for liver and kidney size, masses, consistency of stool, size of bladder. May be impossible in obese cats
Skin - fleas, hair thickness, scabs, irregularities in skin (growths), dryness, matting
Weight - thin, ideal or overweight. Weight changes are subtle and usually not noticed by the owner until drastic changes have occurred.