Cats have fascinated people for thousands of years; they have been linked with magic and luck throughout history. Although cats can be very independent they do need your help and care. That’s why this section also looks at ways to look after and have fun with your cat
Kitten Health Care... Click to find out more
There are a number of highly infectious and potentially fatal diseases which can affect your cat. However, for many of these conditions there is a simple protection in the form of vaccinations.
Ensuring that your cat completes an initial course of vaccinations (two injections from 6 weeks of age, 3 – 4 weeks apart) and then receives annual booster injections is important if you want to keep your cat fit and healthy.
Remember your kitten is not fully immunised until two weeks after the last vaccination as their immune system needs this time to respond.
WHAT DISEASES ARE CATS VACCINATED AGAINST?
Feline Panleucopenia (also called Feline distemper or Feline Infectious Enteritis)
It is particularly dangerous for kittens and young cats, when severe vomiting and diarrhoea can cause fatal dehydration within 2-3 days of symptoms starting. The virus is spread in infected faeces and it can survive for long periods in the environment.
Cat Flu (caused by Feline viral rhinotracheitis and Feline calcivirus)
Nearly all cases of respiratory disease in cats are caused by one of two viruses; herpesvirus and calicivirus. Cat flu is only rarely fatal except in very young or old cats and those which are already ill with some other disease. Cats will be sneezing, a runny nose and eyes – but mouth ulcers may also occur. Once infected a cat may carry the virus for a long time and pose a risk to any unvaccinated cat it meets. Cats carrying the virus may not have any symptoms or may have mouth ulcers or ‘snotty noses’ which never get better. The protection given by vaccination may be short-lived therefore your cat should receive annual vaccinations.
Feline Leukaemia (FeLV)
This is probably the most important viral disease in cats. Not all cats that are infected with the virus get the disease. But, in those that do, it is almost always fatal and treatment can only prolong the cat’s life. The disease destroys the cat’s defences against other diseases and may cause fatal cancers. The virus is spread by direct contact with other cats. So any cat that goes outside or mixes with other cats is at risk.
This is a disease which causes painful inflammation (conjunctivitis), ulcers and discharge from the eyes. It may cause infertility in some female cats. Young kittens with the disease may have sore or runny eyes from a few weeks old. It is mainly a problem where large numbers of cats live together and once a cattery is affected, the disease often keeps coming back. Cats living on their own are at low risk of catching the disease. This disease can be treated with a long course of antibiotics. There is no satisfactory vaccine yet for other important viral diseases of cats such as feline infectious peritonitis and feline immunodeficiency virus.
WHEN SHOULD MY KITTEN BE VACCINATED?
7-8 weeks old: At this stage immunity and antibodies supplied by the mother has reduced. Antibodies from the mothers milk prevent the vaccines working properly so early vaccination is pointless.
12 weeks old- 2nd vaccination
Until your kitten has received all its injections and for a few days after, it should not mix with other cats unless you can be certain that they are free of disease.
Microchipping... Click to find out more
Microchipping your pet means in the unfortunate event of your pet going missing, the chances of having them returned to you are greatly increased.
Collars can be removed or lost, but microchips are a permanent means of identification.
Many people don’t think of microchipping cats but a cat is more likely to stray than a dog and every stray cat that is presented at the vets will be scanned for a microchip. The information on the chip will inform the vet who the cats owners are.
For more detailed information see puppy healthcare
Fleas and Parasites... Click to find out more
Fleas are the most common parasite in cats – and every cat is likely to be infected at some stage in its life. However, with the advent of modern products it is possible to prevent fleas from becoming a problem in your household.
Please ask us for help in choosing the correct treatment and prevention of external parasites for your young kitten.
AFFECT ON CAT’S HEALTH
Fleas are the most common cause of skin disease in cats especially flea allergy dermatitis. (Flea spit contains chemicals which stop blood clotting until the flea has finished feeding and these chemicals may cause an allergic reaction in your cat)
If a cat cannot groom itself to remove fleas, large numbers may survive in its fur. The cat may lose so much blood that it becomes anaemic. Usually this only happens in kittens or cats which are already ill with another disease.
Fleas may also carry eggs of tapeworms which develop inside your cat’s gut if they are swallowed.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY CAT HAS FLEAS?
Take a sheet of good quality white paper and wet one side by running it under the tap. Place the sheet on a flat surface, e.g. worktop with the wet surface uppermost. Sit your cat against the edge of the paper. Rub or brush the small of your cat’s back so that scurf and flea droppings falls onto the wet paper.
Look for ‘coal dust’ which, after 30-60 seconds, goes reddish brown (this is the dried blood in the flea droppings). Sometimes there are no obvious signs of fleas and your vet might suggest testing your cat’s skin to see if it is allergic to flea spit.
Treat the cat: Not all products are equally effective and those you can get from your veterinary surgeon are usually much better than those sold in pet shops or supermarkets.
Treat the environment: Treating the areas where your cat spends most of its time (including outhouses and sheds) is also important – particularly the places it lies down to sleep. Washing your cat’s bedding in hot water will destroy the young fleas (but not the eggs) and vacuuming your carpets also helps keep the numbers down.
Some products kill the flea itself and some prevent immature fleas from developing and re-infecting your cat in the future. Your vet can advise you on which product, or combination of products, to use. Treat your cat and your home all year round even if you do not see fleas.
Treat other pets: All the cats and dogs (because most fleas on dogs are cat fleas) in a household should be treated even if only one animal appears to be affected by flea bites. If you do not continue treatment the affected animal may be re-infected with fleas carried by other animals in your home or by fleas it picks up outside.