Preventative health care for cats

Vaccinations

Your kitten’s initial vaccination course consists of two injections. The first is given at or after 9 weeks of age and the second 3 weeks later. This means that your kitten will be able to go out fully vaccinated at 13 weeks old. If you are looking to have your cat neutered we would advise not letting them out until this has been done.

We use the Purevax vaccine range produced by Merial which provides protection against cat flu (herpes virus and calicivirus), feline enteritis (Feline panleucopaenia) and feline leukaemia virus.

Regular boosters are needed to maintain your cat’s protection against these diseases. These boosters are given annually, and at the same time, a full health check is carried out. Regular health checks mean any illness is more likely to be picked up at an early stage when it may be easier to treat. Your cat visiting the vets once a year is the equivalent of you only visiting the doctor once every 7 years.

If you book your cat into a cattery, please contact them to check their policy on vaccine requirements.

Fleas and Worming

Fleas are an all year round problem for both you and your pet, but they are easy to prevent. Cats pick up fleas very easily and the female flea lays hundreds of eggs which fall off their coat into your home. These eggs develop into larvae in the carpet and furnishings, before hatching into adult fleas. They hatch all year round but the process speeds up at particular times of the year, such as the summer when it is warmer or in autumn when the central heating is turned on.

In your home, only 5% of the flea life cycle takes place on your cat, the other 95% takes place in the environment. It is important, therefore, if your cat has fleas, to treat both your cat and the house to kill all the flea life stages. One easy way to treat your cat is to use a spot on treatment (see below) and we recommend you treat the house with a spray called Indorex which lasts for up to 12 months.

It is also important to establish a regular worming routine as worms can cause illness in your cat.

There are two groups of worms that may affect your pet:

  • The most common is the roundworm particularly in kittens. An infection with roundworms may not be obvious but can cause a pot belly, poor growth and coat, and intestinal upsets.
  • The other type of worm is the tapeworm and cats can become infected when grooming themselves if they have fleas. Cats can also pick up tapeworms from their prey if they are hunters.

Both types of worms can be treated easily with tablets.

We recommend one of the three following regimes for cats for fleas and worms:

  1. Broadline spot-on for fleas, ticks, roundworms and tapeworms monthly. No need for a worming tablet.
  2. Stronghold Plus spot-on once a month for fleas, ticks and then use Milbactor for roundworm and tapeworm every 3-6 months.
  3. Seresto collar for fleas and ticks once every 6 months with Milbactor for all worms every 3 – 6 months.

We recommend that you bring your kitten in once a month for a free check with the nurses; they can weigh him or her and advise on the correct dose of flea treatment and wormer. If your cat is a hunter, you may need to treat as often as every 6 weeks for tapeworms.

Nutrition

Your kitten’s diet is very important. The diet should be a balanced diet with the right amount of all the nutrients the kitten needs. It is much easier to feed a nutritionally balanced commercial diet than a homemade one. We recommend Royal Canin kitten food.

Whether you feed tinned or dry food is a matter of personal preference. Generally dry food is better for your cat’s teeth and is much cheaper to feed. We recommend feeding four small meals until 12 weeks of age, three meals from 12 weeks to 6 months old and then two meals a day from 6 months old.

As your kitten grows you will need to change to a suitable adult diet. Whenever you change diets it is important to introduce new food gradually over several days so your kitten doesn’t develop an upset stomach.

Obesity is a very common problem with cats now, so it is important to regularly check your cat’s weight and feed a diet accordingly. There will be some guidelines on how much to feed on the food packet, however this can vary considerably between cats and the amount of exercise that they do. Keeping a check on your cat’s weight and body condition will enable you to feed the correct amount of food. If you are unsure about the amount to feed your cat, then our nurses will be able to advise you.

Neutering

Neutering is the surgical removal of your cat’s reproductive organs. There are many health and social benefits to having your kitten neutered.

Female cats come into season around spring. This generally starts at around 6 months of age although can be later. Neutering (spaying) your cat reduces the risk of her developing mammary cancer later in life. It also reduces the problems of unwanted kittens. If you are not planning to have a litter from your kitten then we highly recommend spaying your cat at 5 months of age. If you have two cats that are brother and sister living together then the vet can discuss with you the possibility of neutering sooner than 5 months.

Neutering male cats (castration) is done at 5 months of age as well. Neutering male cats helps reduce aggression, spraying in the house, wandering and sexual behaviour.

Dental Care

Your kitten will already have its set of baby teeth before his/her adult teeth come through at around 4-6 months of age. Once the adult teeth are through they will have to last your kitten the rest of his/her life so it is vital to take good care of them. Dental care should be started as soon as possible, with gentle brushing and lots of praise. This will accustom your kitten to the brushing process and it is more likely to be a pleasant experience for both of you. Human toothpastes are unsuitable for use in cats but there is a wide range of feline dental products available. Please ask the nurses for advice and a demonstration of teeth brushing. Brushing will help prevent dental disease in later life. If not treated dental disease can cause gingivitis and tooth abscesses, and may also worsen other conditions such as kidney and heart disease.

Microchipping

A microchip is a way of identifying your pet when they are lost or stolen. The microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and is inserted under the skin between the shoulder blades. The microchip number is recorded on a central data base against they animal and owner’s details as provided on the form submitted. If an animal is brought in as a stray to a vets or rescue organisation, it will be scanned, the data base contacted, and your contact details obtained so you can be reunited with your cat. It is important to keep the database up to date with any change in your address or contact details.