You can easily tell a healthy cat by his or her appearance. With proper diet and exercise, the cat will have a strong, solid body. The hair will be sleek and shiny on a shorthaired cat and thick and soft if longhaired. The eyes and ears will be clear of discharge, and teeth will be white and sharp. There will be no evidence of parasites or pest infestations, or any flaking or scaling of his or her skin. And a healthy cat is spritely and nimble in movement.
Himmy, a cat in Queensland, Australia, is generally considered the heaviest domestic cat on record. Weighing in at 46.8 pounds, the tabby died a relatively early death at age 10 from respiratory failure. At the other extreme, was a Blue Point Himalayan named Tinker Toy who was a dwarf cat, meaning he suffered from a poorly understood genetic defect similar to human dwarfism. At maturity, Tinker only stood 2.75 inches tall at the shoulder, was 7.5 inches long and weighed less than two pounds.
The largest cat breed is the Ragdoll; males typically weigh between 12 to 20 pounds and females between 10 to 15 pounds (whereas the average domestic cat is between 8 to 10 pounds).
The smallest cat breed is the Singapura with the males weighing about six pounds and the females about four.
Hair and body
Aside from weight, other signs of a healthy cat can be found upon close exami- nation, particularly of the hair and body. Such an inspection is best performed as an act of petting, or even as if giving a well-deserved massage, because most cats do not like all parts of their bodies touched indiscriminately. But do take a close look at your cat, get familiar with all body parts so you will know the difference immediately if health is beginning to decline in any area. Be sure to look at the following:
Did you realize a cat’s hearing is much more sensitive than both a human’s and dog’s? To keep ears in prime condition to hear a cricket walking through the grass, they must be clean on the inside with no waxy residue, no brown or black secretions suggesting a mite problem, and no odor. Healthy ears are pink on the inside, and unless your cat is a Scottish fold, whose ear tips naturally fold down, they should be perky, pointed upright, and able to pivot a full 180 degrees.
yes, will be clear and bright with no evidence of chronic tearing or discharge. The third eyelid, the nictitating membrane that protects the eyes and helps keep them moist, will not be noticeable. Cats happen to have the largest eye of all mammals and are better adapted to see at night than humans. In fact, it is estimated they can see six times better in the dark than people can. Their night vision is superb because of the way their eyes are built — the muscles around the pupil allow it to change from a slit in bright light to nearly the full iris in dark, and there is a reflective layer behind the retina that works as a built-in flashlight by reflecting incoming light. Should you discover your cat seems to have difficulty seeing in the dark, or that the pupils are of different sizes, he or she may be suffering from vision problems.
The nose knows
Each cat nose is unique. The nose pad has ridges and patterns, like a human’s fingerprint, that is distinguishable from every other cat on the planet.
Adult cats have 30 teeth with 16 on the top and 14 on the bottom. You may al- ready know this, but it bears repeating — be very careful when you examine your cat’s teeth. He or she may be so upset by it that you will find out just how strong and sharp they are once they are impaled into your hand. Healthy teeth are white and sharp. Gums should be pink and shiny. Cats are prone to plaque and tartar buildup, but healthy cats — ones who have the opportunity for get- ting their teeth clean — will have none. Plaque will make teeth look yellow, and tartar will be even darker. Other signs to look for are cracked or broken teeth and breath odors. If kitty has a foul odor coming from its mouth, it may be in- dicative of gum disease or infection.
A cat’s back holds approximately 60,000 hairs per square inch, which sounds like a lot until you realize the underside holds double that number. Cats have three types of hair. Guard hairs determine the coat color. These hairs help your cat stay dry, as they tend to repel water. Awn hairs are finer, softer hairs that form the basic coat, which grows under the guard hair. In most breeds, the awn hairs are the same length as the guard hair, but in some, like the Manx, these hairs are shorter. The undercoat hair is also called the “down” hair. It is the softest, fluffiest of the three types and provides warmth to your cat. It is also the hair that generally gets matted if a cat is not groomed frequently enough. A healthy cat’s coat is soft and smooth. There are no bald patches or irregularities in the texture. It should come off when gently rubbed against sofas and trouser legs, but not in large tufts or with any sign of bleeding.
For most cats, the skin beneath the hair should be white. However, some have darker tones. Regardless of the color, healthy skin is smooth and taut. Evi- dence of potential problems includes scaly flakes, raised discolorations, and lesions. There should be no lumps under the skin or large red patches on it. You should not see any black specks or tiny particles that could be indicative of a flea infestation.