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The KatKin Guide To An At-Home MOT

The KatKin Guide To An At-Home MOT
by Dr Grant Hampson

Read time: 3 min

There are lots of things our cats can tell us. Things like ‘Head scratches please.’ Or ‘Hey, I want out (and back in again).’ And the ever popular: ‘Feed me.’ 

But the one thing our cats can’t tell us? When they’re ill. In fact, they actively hide their pain when they’re injured or sick. 

So to keep track of your cat or kitten’s health, you need to be proactive and give them at-home MOTs between vet visits. It won’t replace a full clinical vet exam, but it helps you notice potential problems and act faster. 

Take things slow

Sometimes your cat will object to being checked at first. But persevere. Go slowly and let them get used to it. If they’re not in the mood, try again later. But don’t give up: you’re a hardcore cat parent and monitoring your cat’s health matters.

How to get your MOT started

The best way to work is to start at the head and work your way backwards to the tail.

How to check your cat’s eyes

Your cat or 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’s important to go to the vet if you ever notice:

  • Your cat holding their eyes closed, or squinting

  • If the eye(s) become red or sore

  • If any discharge develops

How to check your cat’s ears

Both ears should be 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 cat or kitten is excessively shaking their head, it could mean something going on a bit further down, where you can’t see.

How to check your cat’s mouth

If your cat or kitten doesn’t 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, skip checking the mouth this time.

The gums should be pink, similar to your own – but some cats and kittens do have darker pigments present. If the gums ever look pale, white or yellow, call your vet as soon as possible, as this could be an urgent problem.

Your cat’s 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.

How to check your cat’s skin and coat

Your cat or kitten should not have any knots or matts present, and that’s particularly important to check in long-haired cats. Pay particular attention to their belly and under their legs. Their skin should be flake-free.

Gently stroke all over your kitten, and gently part the fur to look at the skin closely. If you notice any rashes, lumps, bald patches or wounds then contact your vet. Another indication your cat might have a skin issue is if you notice excessive scratching or grooming.

How to check your cat’s legs and tail

Monitor your cat or kitten’s walking from a distance, looking for any limping. You might 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 and outdoor cats generally care for their own nails well, but if they’re getting caught on fabric and furniture, they may need a slight trim.

What do I do if I notice anything unusual during my cat’s MOT?

If you notice anything unusual, it’s best to give your vet a call – especially if you notice any of the red flags we’ve mentioned above. Don’t forget, as a KatKin cat parent, you can also get in touch with our free in-house vet team at

And if you ever want advice or tips on how to do your cat MOT, there’s a whole community of hardcore cat parents at your fingertips on the KatKin Club House. And all they’ll ask in return is cat pictures. Lots of cat pictures.

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