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Ask Einstein: What Should Be My Kitty Resolutions for 2014?

No. 1 should be convincing mom to do a full medical check on you. Here's how to tell a kitty's health level at home.

 |  Dec 30th 2013  |   7 Contributions


Dear Einstein,

I want to turn over a new catnip leaf. I’m trying to decide on which resolutions I should aspire to. I was considering: killing at least three rats per week (in the absence of real rats, then three rat analogues), teaching the parrot to say “feed the kitty,” and stopping smashing my nose on the television screen when I watch cat videos.  

What are your resolutions?

Newton

Happy Newt Year,

I’ve been thinking about your letter and I believe you are onto something. I definitely plan to get more exercise by doing laps up and down the cat tree. 

Consider some self-improvement in 2013. Brainy cat reading by Shutterstock

I’m also considering getting a monthly health exam just like our ladypeople do. Many cats only visit the veterinarian once a year (some cats go even less frequently); that’s the human equivalent getting a physical every seven years; a lot of changes can occur in that time. 

My Aunt Chani was saved when her human mom found a cancerous lump on her throat. The vet got rid of it and Chani lived eight more years, checking out of this life at almost 20. 

Since we kitties can’t do that Exorcist 360-degree thing with our heads, we’re going to have to trick our human moms and dads into lending a hand. Besides, if it’s done right, we never have to know she’s checking us out. 

Kitties like fun things, so the key to doing it every month is for the human to make it fun (except that invasion of the booty). She should include lots of soft comforting words, throat scratches and a gentle body massage. A high-value treat, like deli turkey or tuna flakes should immediately follow the more unpleasant parts like the taking of the temperature. Salmon sushi also makes a good bribe.

We kitties were made with a great design -- two of almost everything -- so Mom should see if the left paw (or shoulder or whatever) looks like the right paw.

Veterinarian examining a cat by Shutterstock.com

Start with the head

Do you have a gooey nose? Are your teeth clean? Do your tongue and gums look nice and pink, or do they look as bright red as a second-place ribbon? Does your breath smell like a dog who raids the litter box? Is your third eyelid showing in the inside corner of your eyes? Is there black gunk in your ears? Do you scratch? Are there any strange new lumps on your neck? Do you have that icky black flea dirt or any new knots? (If the answer is yes, then I see a trip to the vet in your future.)

Look at your paws for ingrown toenails or cuts

This is a very good time for the salmon, cuz a lot of us don’t like to have our feet messed with. After a while, with plenty of goodies, we’ll get used to it. 

Massage the tummy

After a few times I bet your mom will be able to feel if there’s something new in there. This is another good time for some munchies. Feel the chest. We should be breathing around 25 times a minute, and our hearts should beat between 100 and 150 times per minute.

Now, unfortunately, it’s time to check the back door

Grope the tail for lumps and scabs. I have to admit, I hate it when my mom lifts my tail to sneak a peek at my junk. If I were you, I’d charge extra for that one. Are your old privates swollen or red? If she doesn’t mind taking her life in your paws, she should take your temp. Mom shouldn’t skimp on the lubricant before inserting the thermometer parallel to your spine. Someone should be at the whisker end with lots of soft words and an entire Alaskan salmon. A vet friend recommended a flexible digital thermometer cuz it tells you when it is done, and better still, it’s fast. The temp should read between 101° to 101.5°.

C'mon. Who could resist this? Kitten with leg in the air by Shutterstock

Your mom may be finished groping you, but she’s not done. This is a good time to apply your monthly heartworm preventative, cuz kitties get those demons, too. 

Inspect the box

Next is another invasion of privacy, but not as invasive as the thermometer. Mom can entertain any voyeuristic tendencies by watching you use the box. Your poop ought to look like logs, not a bunch of little balls or a puddle. Using the litter box should be fun, in a cicada-torturing sort of way. You shouldn’t have to strain to poop or pee and you should go after every meal. Mom should look for signs of litter box lament. Do you show signs that it hurts to fill the box? Do you cry or strain when you go?

A few more warning signs your mom should look for

Changes in eating habits (either not eating or hungry enough to tackle and consume a baby hippo), dropping food from your mouth when you eat, developing a new preference for canned food, suddenly drinking lots of water, suddenly hiding if normally outgoing, or suddenly hanging around in the open if shy. Have you started biting or scratching when someone handles you? Have you gained or lost weight? Do you shake your head or scratch your ears? Do you have any tender spots? Is any hair missing?

While grab 'n' grope might not be our most enjoyable game, if we play it right, we could get lots of neck scratches and tasty treats. The new question becomes, “How do you convince your mom to give you salmon more than once a month?”

Find out how Catster can teach you more about your cat:

Got a question for he who knows everything feline? Just Ask Einstein in the comments below and you might be featured in an upcoming column. (Letters don't have to be written from the cat's point of view.) Remember, any change in your cat's behavior or activities could be a symptom of disease and should be investigated by your vet, even if it unfortunately involves glass tubes and cat posteriors.

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