Unfortunately our cats can’t tell us if they are feeling well, so this guide is to try and help you notice and potential problems in your cat. This guide is not meant to replace a full clinical exam by a vet, but to help you find problems that might otherwise fall under the radar. There are a few things to look out for and if noticed get in touch with our vet straight away.
I personally always start at the head end and work my way backwards to the tail, so let's start there.
Your kitten’s eyes should be open wide and comfortable with no squinting. Check for any discharge coming from the eyes. Their pupils might change size according to the amount of light in the room, becoming smaller in bright light and much larger in darker spaces.
It is important to go to the vet if you ever notice:
Holding their eyes closed, or squinting
If the eye(s) become red or sore
If any discharge develops
Both ears should be nice and pink on the inside, clear of any build-up of wax or discharge.
Give the ears a good smell, ensuring there is no nasty odour.
If the ears have any discharge, smell or look sore we advise contacting your vet. If your kitten is excessively shaking their head, it could mean something going on a bit further down, where you can’t see.
If your kitten does not tolerate you opening their mouth, you can save this for the next visit. Some will let you open their mouth completely, and others will let you gently lift their gums to expose their teeth - the key is to always be careful, and if they seem stressed, ignore checking the mouth.
The gums should be nice and pink, similar to your own, however some kittens have darker pigments present. If the gums ever look pale, white or yellow you must visit your vet as soon as possible, as this could be an urgent problem.
Kittens teeth should be clean and white, with no cracks in their teeth. If you notice any discolouration, plaque is a dark yellow-brown colour, or broken teeth then contact your vet, they may be due a clean!
Skin and Coat:
You kitten should not have any knots (mats) present, particularly important in long haired cats. Pay particular attention to their belly and under their legs. Your kitten’s skin should be flake free.
Gently stroke all over your kitten, and gently part the fur to look at the skin a little close. If you notice any rashed, lumps, bald patches or wounds then contact your vet. Another indication your kitten may have skin disease is when they are excessively scratching or grooming.
Limbs (Legs and Tail):
Monitor your kitten’s walking from a distance, monitor for any lameness. You may see their hips drop or head go down when they place their foot down.
To examine the limbs, gently run your hands down their legs and tail, feeling for lumps, bumps and wounds. This is also a good opportunity to check their nails. Young cats generally care for their own nails well, however, if they are getting caught on fabric and furniture they may need a slight trim.
Finally, if you notice anything unusual on your kitten during their MOT it is always safer to get it checked over by a vet.