October 2009 Issue

Keep a Feline Health Diary

Tracking health and behavioral changes can help your veterinarian provide the best treatment.

If your cat kept a diary, it might read something like this: Yesterday, I slept, ate, slept some more, chased a paper ball, napped, ate again and napped. While that may describe a catís typical day, it wonít necessarily help you or your veterinarian if your cat develops a health or behavior problem. "Keeping a diary for your cat is a good idea in general, but particularly when your cat is ill," says Drew Weigner, DVM, who is board-certified by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. Keep Track of the Basics. At a minimum, you should track your catís veterinary visits, vaccinations, flea treatments and any medications your cat takes. Beyond that, record anything that is unusual for your particular pet. For example, if you change your catís diet, note the date and track changes (such as vomiting or diarrhea). Or, if your cat urinates more or less often than usual, record that in the diary. "If there is anything unusual, or if you start seeing something more often, you should take a trip to the veterinarian," says Dr. Weigner, whose practice is The Cat Doctor in Atlanta, Georgia. If your cat exhibits any changes in behavior, you should note anything unusual thatís happened in the house, such as human visitors or changes in the environment. Are strange cats hanging around outside? "Anything can act as a trigger," says Dr. Weigner. "Keeping a journal helps separate the subjective from whatís objective. If you keep a log of it, you know for sure."

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