Cat and Kitten care

Cat under bedVaccinations:

 

We recommend that all cats have an F3 level of protection.  This will enable them to go to a cattery should they ever need it and will be protected against nasty diseases like cat flu and feline parvovirus.

 

We have a philosophy that over-vaccinating should be avoided. We like to be adaptable in our approach to vaccinations and the annual check up is an ideal opportunity to discuss with us the frequency that your cat gets vaccinated. In Australia all cat vaccines need to be given every year to comply with the manufacturer’s directions.  

 

Kittens still need 3 vaccinations at 8, 12 and 16 weeks followed by a booster 12 months later.  We then proceed with vaccinating every 1 or 3 years depending on your cat’s individual requirements.

 

As with dogs, we still view the annual checkup as a vital part of keeping your cat healthy regardless of vaccination intervals.

 

Heartworm:

 

Heartworm disease can affect cats as well as dogs but in the cat it is more likely to cause a chronic cough.  It is less common in cats and harder to detect with the usual diagnostic tests.  

 

For this reason we usually recommend products like Advocate® and Revolution® for flea control and intestinal worm control as they also prevent heartworm.

 

Intestinal Worms:

 

Intestinal worms are potentially harmful to cats especially kittens and some of them are also capable of causing disease in people.  For these reasons, we recommend regular intestinal worming of all kittens and cats.  Topical spot-on products such as Revolution® and Advocate® make it a lot easier to keep on top of intestinal worms, especially as they are a lot simpler to use than tablets.

 

Fleas:

 

A few important points about fleas:

 

  • The flea life cycle means that most fleas actually live off your cat.  This means that for every flea you see on your pet, there are dozens sitting in their environment waiting to jump on.

 

  • One of the problems with cats is that they don’t sit around scratching like dogs do if they have fleas so a lot of cat owners are unaware that their cat has fleas at all.  This is particularly important if you are trying to rid your household of fleas - it is most important to treat ALL of your pets, both cats and dogs

 

  • Because of the speed that fleas breed and the fact that they are so common, they have a habit of developing resistance to flea control products over time. This is why it is best to use the most modern and up-to-date flea control products that are available.  

 

  • Ask us about the best flea control plan for your situation.

 

Paralysis Ticks:

 

One paralysis tick can potentially kill a cat so remember:

 

  • Keep your cat away from areas where ticks live - mainly areas of scrub or bushland where the intermediate hosts may live (most native marsupials are relatively resistant to the tick)

 

  • Use tick repellent/killer medications specifically designed for cats during tick season (most tick paralysis cases are seen from September to February) - Frontline spray is the most convenient tick prevention product.  NB Never use Advantix® on a cat.

 

  • Check your cat daily for ticks - they mostly attach around the head and neck but can be found anywhere. Paralysis ticks can be removed when found by using tweezers or just grasping them at their attachment site with fingernails.

 

  • Symptoms of tick paralysis can be vomiting, coughing or retching, usually with some degree of difficulty breathing, and weakness or incoordination of the hind legs.

 

 

Diet and feeding:

 

We recommend that you feed a good quality diet that is appropriate for the size, age and type (indoor/outdoor) of cat that you have.  Cats are naturally fussy creatures and most cats that we see every day are overweight, even though most people say that their cat “doesn’t eat very much”.

 

Some simple rules for feeding cats are:

 

  • Don’t leave dry food sitting around all day in their bowls.  This is like us having access to a fully stocked buffet 24 hrs a day - we’d all end up overweight in this situation.

 

  • 3-4 small meals a day is most appropriate

 

  • Try to allow them to have some wet food meals as well as dry food as cats rely on water in their diet for some of their daily water intake and dry food only diets can leave them a little dehydrated

 

  • If you can’t see your cat’s waistline, he/she is overweight and you should reduce their food intake.

 

Dental care:

 

There are a few ways you can keep your cat’s teeth in tip top shape but the most important thing is that whatever you choose to do, you should start as soon as all of the adult teeth arrive (about six months).  You should also try to do something every single day - dental care is never going to be effective if only performed once a fortnight.

 

In order of effectiveness, we recommend:

 

  • Brushing, with or without pet specific toothpaste, is the most effective way of controlling plaque on teeth.  We know this is not going to be feasible for every cat but we advise kitten owners to get their kittens used to having their mouths and teeth touched.

 

  • Routine scaling and polishing of teth can complement daily plaque prevention efforts - just like people! We recommend an annual scale and polish as best practice for keeping teeth and gums looking great.

 

  • Dental diets are veterinary prescription diets that are made in such a way that chewing on the oversized biscuit will help to clean the teeth.  Good examples of these types of food are Hills T/d and Royal Canin Dental Diet.

 

  • Dental treats such as Greenies have been shown to help reduce or prevent plaque buildup so if used regularly can contribute to overall oral health.

 

  • Healthy Mouth is a product which is put in drinking water which may help to reduce plaque build up.  It must be started when the teeth are very clean and can be quite effective.

 

Environmental enrichment:

 

There are many reasons to consider keeping your cat as an indoor cat.  Indoor cats have less health problems/parasites, less community problems (roaming and killing wildlife), less cat fights and less motor vehicle trauma.

 

However, keeping your cat indoors can present some behavioural and health problems related to boredom, obesity and lack of stimulation.

 

A really useful resource regarding tools and tricks to help keep your indoor cat stimulated is the indoor pet initiative at www.indoorpet.osu.edu/cats/

 

Desexing:

 

We recommend that all cats are desexed either before they reach sexual maturity (at 5-6 months) or after they have finished any breeding.

 

There are health benefits to having cats desexed, but because it is impossible to confine cats within a yard, females are highly likely to end up pregnant if not desexed.  It is not really possible to keep male cats entire as once they reach maturity at about 2-3 years of age, they become almost impossible to keep in and are at extremely high risk of road trauma and fighting which carries the risk of diseases like FIV.

 

Its also a lot cheaper to register desexed cats with the council!

 

Microchipping:

 

Its the law - you have to have your cat microchipped before the age of 12 weeks and it makes sense to have your cat identifiable in the unhappy case that he/she escapes from the yard.



Pet Insurance:

 

Everyone knows that with the ever increasing sophistication of veterinary health care comes increasing cost and sometimes these costs can be hard to fit into already squeezed budgets.  Pet health insurance can help with these often unexpected costs and can alleviate the anguish of having to choose the level of care your dog gets based on your ability to afford the cost of the care.  There are many companies available and most companies will offer a range of products so you should always check to see what is covered or excluded for the level of insurance that you choose.

 

A few examples of pet health insurance companies are: Petplan, Prosure and RSPCA pet insurance.

 

Talk to your cat:

 

Cats have an incredible wisdom, especially when it comes to taking a few minutes in the day to tune out and refresh the mind. Scientists have reported that just spending a few minutes with you cat will reduce your cortisol (stress hormone) levels and increase your serotonin (well-being chemical) levels.

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