It only takes one second of distraction to allow a lifelong indoor cat to slip out the door and get lost in the surrounding area. While you may be overjoyed to get your pet home after days, weeks, or even months of missing them, you can't just welcome the pet home and pretend like they never disappeared. You should schedule an immediate checkup at a local veterinary hospital like Healthy Paws Veterinary Hospital & Housecalls for these four reasons and more.
First, all females cats, even those that were previously spayed, have a chance of carrying a litter when they return home after an escape or absence. There's always a small percentage of spay procedures that fail, and you don't want to find out this was the case only after the kittens are born. The vet can perform an abortive procedure to re-spay or initially spay a cat that returns home pregnant, which may be essential for their health if the female cat is young or in poor health. A cat doesn't need to show signs of being in heat to become pregnant, especially while she's out of the home for a day or longer.
Exposure to Poisons and Disease
You never know what your cat has eaten, drunk, or rubbed up against and then licked off while they were wandering. Exposure to rat poison from a wild-caught meal or a puddle contaminated with antifreeze can cause a healthy-looking cat to stay sick for months or suddenly pass away with no warning. An immediate visit to the vet is the best way to catch these invisible dangers and reverse any potential damage with prompt treatment.
Cats are very good at hiding the usual signs of pain and injury until it's too late to help them. Your cat may have a broken bone or damaged organ due to an attack from a wild animal or another cat, an accident with a car, or pranks from neighborhood troublemakers. Only a vet's thorough investigation can determine if your cat is healthy or not.
Finally, spending even a few days outdoors can leave a cat acting skittish and afraid of their owners and fellow pet residents of a home. This could be due to an underlying illness or injury, or it could just be a natural part of acclimating to life back inside the home. Only a checkup can determine the exact cause of your cat's behavioral changes after returning home.