When the time for Midnight’s annual wellness visit rolls around, she treats the entire day like a living nightmare. Once I take the cat crate out of the closet, she immediately darts under the bed and hisses her declaration of war. After I fish her out and attempt to lower her into the crate, she grips all four sides as if her life depends on it. The moment she is placed on the scale, she screeches until the whole city feels her fury. Throughout the drive home, her angry eyes glare at me from behind her own personal prison with intense hatred. In response to Midnight’s dramatic protests and excellently executed guilt trips, I’ve caught myself wondering: if Midnight seems fine, can’t we just skip the vet?
But during one of Midnight’s more recent wellness appointments, her doctor found she had lost weight over the past year. She explained that for a petite cat with a normal appetite, this pattern of weight loss seemed unusual and recommended checking her thyroid levels. I never noticed this change because Midnight has always been quite slender, but the test results proved she had developed hyperthyroidism, which is not uncommon among senior cats. Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces too many thyroid hormones. It can cause excessive thirst, frequent urination, weight loss despite a ravenous appetite, and in some cases vomiting. As the doctor pointed out these signs, it all began to line up— now that she mentioned it, Midnight had been visiting the water bowl and litter box more often… I never suspected it to be a sign of a larger issue. Midnight began taking medication to regulate her thyroid levels, and her weight slowly climbed toward a healthier number.
At Midnight’s next wellness appointment a year later, the doctor also suggested checking her kidney levels. Chronic renal disease frequently occurs among senior cats when their kidneys become unable to function normally. Hyperthyroidism and kidney disease often go hand in hand– but hyperthyroidism can make common signs of kidney disease even more difficult to notice. The blood work results did in fact indicate early stages of kidney disease, so Midnight was prescribed a low protein diet to slow the damage.
Despite Midnight’s repeated emotional difficulties at the vet, I now understand her annual wellness visit is a necessary component of her care which should never be avoided. If I had allowed Midnight to guilt me into skipping her wellness visit (even though in my eyes, everything appeared to be on the right track), she might have become very sick before I realized she needed veterinary attention. Because her doctor helped me pay close attention to subtle but significant signs of disease, Midnight traded a few unpleasant trips to the vet for much more time to chase my feet as I walk down the hall, nap under her favorite potted tree, receive free neck rubs every day, and chatter at the birds who visit the backyard feeder.
Yearly wellness appointments help discover the presence of a health problem that might be difficult to notice. By seeing a veterinarian every year, a subtle problem which needs attention may be treated quickly.