Why does my healthy cat need an exam?

By June 27, 2018 Uncategorized

Meet Barry.

Barry was found as a stray cat by owner, Dr. Cindy Hoisington, at her home in Barrington. Dr. Hoisington was able to safely trap Barry with a “have a heart trap” (pictured below) so that she could bring him to the clinic for an exam, and possible locate an owner.

Right away, he was scanned for a microchip (pictured below) to determine if he has an owner.  A microchip is a device that’s the size of a grain of rice. It holds a unique set of numbers that is registered to the owner of the pet. It’s implanted right under the skin. It’s a permanent identification.


He did not have a microchip, he did not show any signs of being neutered, and it appeared he didn’t have an owner. Dr. Hoisington performed a complete physical exam. So, what does that mean? It’s a head-to-tail exam. We start at the from the front – check eyes, ears, and mouth. We look into the eyes with a device called an ophthalmologist. We are looking for any abnormalities that may affect vision.  Next, in the ears, we do a visual examine both with the naked eye and a device called an otoscope. We are again looking for any abnormalities, including infections or mites in the ears. Next, we ask that they open up wide and say, “ahhhh” to which we’re generally met with a hiss or a swat of the paw. Inside the mouth, the dr. is looking for dental disease or fractured teeth that may be causing pain. The dr. then does a sweep of the limbs, torso, and abdomen, feeling for any lumps, bumps, or enlargements of organs. The dr. also takes a “look under the hood” checking the anus and genitals for any abnormalities. We check the heart with a stethoscope for any irregularities and check the skin and coat for any signs of infections or parasites.

Barry checked out just fine and the next step was to run a blood test for feline leukemia and aids. Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency virus are both viruses that impair the immune system. His blood test was negative, so he was cleared for vaccinations. He received 3 important vaccines – rabies, distemper, and leukemia. Rabies is a fatal disease and the vaccine is required by law, even for indoor cats. Panleukopenia, also known as feline distemper, is an extremely contagious and deadly disease caused by a virus.

Lastly, after Barry’s physical exam was complete, blood tests were negative, and vaccines were administered, he headed to surgery to be neutered. Neutering is the surgical removal of a male cat’s testicles.

He spent a couple more days with us, getting a lot of love and attention from the nurses, before he headed to Cocheco Valley Humane Society in Dover to find his forever home.



Barry wants to express the important of yearly exams for all cats, even seemingly healthy, indoor only cats. Millions of cats die every year from diseases that keeping them indoors can not protect them against. Cats are very good at hiding illness and typically do not show signs until it is too late to treat the disease. However many of these diseases can be caught early (prior to any clinical symptoms) with bloodwork and physical exam and treated successfully.


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