Your cat's eyes and ears are highly sensitive, just like those of their big cat cousins in the wild. Sharp eyesight makes them a natural hunter, while their acute hearing helps them pick up the tiny sounds of their prey moving around.

While it's important to visit the vet if you’re worried about your cat's health, there are some basic checks you can do at home to make sure their eyes, ears and skin are in tip-top condition.

Healthy eyes

To check your cat's super-sharp eyes, just follow this simple checklist:

• Gently pull down your cat's lower eyelid – the area you see here should be pink
• Check that both your cat's pupils are a normal size
• Stand with your cat next to a daylit window, open and close the curtains, and check how that their pupils react normally to the changing light
• Check your cat's eyes for coloured discharge, or excessive watering – both signs might mean they’re picked up an eye infection

If your eye checks reveal anything unusual, take your cat to the vet for a full check-up.

Healthy ears

If your cat's spending a lot of time shaking their head or scratching at their ears, there could be something wrong. Here’s how to check your feline friend's ultra-sensitive ears:

• Keep their ears generally clean and free of dirt
• Check to see if your cat's ears are a brighter pink than usual
• Strong odours could indicate an ear infection
• Wax – especially dark wax or goo – might be a sign of an ear infection or ear mites

Infections caused by mites are relatively easy to cure using eardrops or a special 'spot on' applied to your cat's shoulder blades. If there are any other cats in the house, it's a good idea to treat them too. Your vet will advise you about what treatment is best for your cat.

Other possible conditions include a cauliflower-like thickening of the outer ear – this will need to be cleaned regularly – or a sudden swelling of the ear flap, which might be a blood blister, usually caused by scratching. Blood blisters sometimes cause the ear flap to scar and crumple, which could damage your cat's hearing – these might need an operation to sort them out. Finally, polyps are fleshy lumps which can prevent air flowing into cats' ear, leading to illness. These too can be dealt with by surgery.

If you’re at all concerned about the health of your cats' ears, take them straight to the vet.

Healthy Skin

If you notice your cat licking or scratching themselves more than usual, they may have a skin condition. Eczema is a possibility – it’s often caused by an allergic reaction to flea bites. Left untreated, it will cause scabs to develop, giving your cat's coat a gritty feel. And unfortunately all that extra licking will just make things worse! Your vet will be able to advise you about the best treatment.

There’s also a chance that your cat's itchy skin is caused by a food allergy. If so, your vet will help you move your cat on to a different diet.