See, if I loaded the herd up and took them to a traditionally trained vet, I would guess only Clancy and Dante would be considered unhealthy by a vet. Clancy has advanced CRF, so any bloodwork would come back pretty bad. Dante, who is 20-21 years old, probably would have bad bloodwork too from CRF. The rest, most vets would think are basically healthy.
I look at them and I don't see totally healthy cats. Tolstoy is healthy. The rest, well, the rest I don't see as truly healthy.
It's not that I'm looking for sick cats -- I would love to have totally healthy cats -- but I have an idea of what a healthy cat is like and how it acts. Yes, acts. I don't like the traditional western medicine approach of only dealing with the physical situation because with a cat so much of their being is psychological. I also view health and illness as a continuum, with no clear lines.
So, why do I consider Tolstoy healthy?
- His body is lean and muscular with a nice feel to it.
- He has no observable health issues.
- He eats/digests food without problems.
- His ears and teeth are clean.
- He eats just about everything.
- He is neither too aggressive or too timid.
- He recovers quickly from stress.
My other cats fail on one or more points. For example, most people and vets would consider Olivia to be healthy. While her body is great and her digestion is fine, she apparently has a tendency towards UTIs. This is not huge as many cats do have the same tendency, but I look at it differently. A cat should not get a bladder infection from being upset! Her bladder and her immune system are off. Furthmore, this flaw arises from her tendency to become very stressed. A healthy, well-balanced cat should not have either of these 'problems'. The good news is with some work, I think I can 'fix' it so she doesn't get a UTI after every bath. It will involve both her physically and mentally.
I'm not saying a cat has to be perfect to be healthy -- just that when I look at the entire animal, I see the physical condition, the physical tendencies, and the mental conditions all to be part of health.