Hart Vets Bicester 01869 323223
Hart Vets Waddesdon 01296 651000

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Caring for your cat

  • Dental care for cats
  • Fleas and your cat
  • Neutering
  • Vaccinations
  • Worming

Dental care for cats

Signs & symptoms of poor oral health

If you think your cat has any of these signs, please book an appointment with the vet or nurse:

  • Bad Breath
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bleeding and/or inflamed gums
  • Difficulty eating
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Excess drooling of saliva

Taking care of your cat ’s teeth

Looking after your cat ’s teeth is very important. Approximately 70% of cats over three years of age have dental disease. Most owners find brushing their cats teeth very difficult. Your cat’s diet is a major factor contributing to the health of their teeth. Complete dry biscuit diets, such as Hill’s Veterinary Essentials, are much better than wet food at removing plaque and preventing the development of mouth problems.

Fleas and your cat

Flea control

Fleas are only found on your cat for part of their lifecycle, while they are sucking blood from the skin. Fleas lay hundreds of eggs that drop off into the environment, especially in your home. These eggs hatch into larvae that feed on dead skin cells, in carpets and furnishings.The larvae form pupae which may hatch into fleas straight away or may lie dormant for many months in the carpets. New baby fleas climb to the top of the carpet fibres and lie in wait for the vibrations of oncoming creatures.

Why treat fleas

At best there will just be the itchy bites to cope with. However your cat could become allergic to the flea bites and develop “flea allergic dermatitis”, an itchy and scabby condition that also causes hair loss. Fleas can also transmit tapeworms and a blood parasite that can cause severe anaemia.

Flea treatments

These are divided into two categories:

  •     those that kill the adult fleas on your pet before they have the chance to lay any eggs
  •     those that stop the life cycle of the flea at the egg or larval stage so that new fleas do not hatch out and get onto your cat.

There are a lot of products and the choice can be bewildering, so please discuss the best package for your household with us.

Neutering

Neutering

Cats reach sexual maturity between the age of 5 and 8 months and are then capable of breeding. Neutering means castration in a male (removal of the testes) and spaying in a female (removal of the ovaries and uterus).This prevents unwanted pregnancy and undesirable behavioural patterns such as urine spraying. Neutered cats also live more harmoniously with each other and humans. They tend to wander off less and are not as aggressive.

We generally advise neutering (spaying or castration) from 18 weeks of age.

Spaying a Female

Once sexually mature a female will come into season every 3 weeks. They can be very noisy and often appear agitated.They will also be very attractive to tom cats who may try to get into the house! Spaying prevents this unwanted behaviour and unplanned pregnancies. Spayed females will not suffer from diseases of the uterus and ovaries in later life, and the risk of mammary (breast) cancer is markedly reduced.

The spaying operation involves a general anaesthetic and the surgical removal of both ovaries and the uterus through a tiny incision made on the flank of the cat. We will ask you not to feed your pet from 8pm the night before the operation, to ensure that there is no food in the stomach when the anaesthetic is given. Your cat will be able to return home the same day. There will be dissolvable sutures under the skin that will require a check by one of our nurses after 7-10 days. Some fur will be shaved off on the flank where the incision was made and possibly also on one or both forelegs where anaesthetic injections were given.

Castrating a male

Entire male cats have a tendency to roam, be aggressive to other males, fight and mark their territory by spraying urine. Aggressive behaviour puts them at a higher risk of catching infections such as FIV (feline AIDS), FeLV (feline leukaemia virus) and cat bite abscesses.

Castration involves removing both testes under general anaesthetic through small incisions in the scrotum. We will ask you not to feed your cat from 8pm the night before the operation, to ensure that there is no food in the stomach when the anaesthetic is given. Cats can go home the same day. The skin incisions are so small that sutures are not required.

Post-operative care (both sexes)

Cats recover from the neutering operation remarkably quickly.They may be drowsy for a few hours as the sedative and anaesthetic drugs wear off. A small bland meal can be offered in the evening. We can supply a suitable recovery food for your cat .We advise

Obesity

It is important to remember that once a cat has been neutered, there is a stronger tendency to become overweight. This is due to the hormones and the more relaxed lifestyle a neutered cat usually leads, as well as their metabolic rate being reduced by about a third. You may need to adjust the amount of food you provide after the operation. Remember that it is easier to prevent your cat becoming obese than to put them on a diet later! If you are concerned your cat is gaining weight please make an appointment for a free weight check.

Vaccinations

What vaccinations do cats need?

All cats should be vaccinated against Cat Flu and Feline Infectious Enteritis. Cats that are allowed out of the house – even occasionally – should also be vaccinated against Feline Leukaemia Virus.

When should kittens be vaccinated?

We advise kittens have their first vaccine at nine weeks old. Vaccinating before this age is unreliable because antibodies received from the kitten’s mother may prevent the vaccine from working.

A second dose at twelve weeks old is needed to ensure full protection. A kitten should not be let out of the house until a week after the second vaccine to allow the immunity time to develop.

How often are booster vaccinations needed?

Booster vaccinations are needed on a yearly basis. The protection from the primary course is not life-long. We send reminders through the post to help you remember when your cat’s vaccine is due.

What are the diseases we vaccinate against?

Cat Flu is caused by Feline Herpes Virus and the Feline Calici Viruses. These viruses cause a disease of the upper respiratory tract (sneezing, nasal discharge, conjunctivitis, mouth and eye ulcers) plus a loss of appetite, fever and depression. Very young and very old cats and those with poor immune systems can become severely ill and may die, often of secondary infections, lack of nutrition and dehydration. The Cat Flu viruses are very common, especially in young cats, but vaccination does not offer complete protection because the vaccines currently available are not effective against some strains of the Calicivirus. However, severe disease will not develop in a vaccinated cat, and in most cases Cat Flu will be completely prevented.

Feline Infectious Enteritis (FIE) is caused by the Feline Panleucopenia Virus. It causes a severe and often fatal form of enteritis. The Panleucopenia Virus is widespread in the environment and vaccination is highly successful.

Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV) affects the immune system of the cat and may cause anaemia or cancer to develop. Most infected cats die or are euthanased, and there is no cure. It is transmitted by saliva, biting, urine, faeces, in the womb or from an infected mother’s milk. A cat should be vaccinated against Feline Leukaemia if it will be allowed outside the house (even if only occasionally) or in contact with any other cats that have not been tested for the virus. As there is no cure it is advisable to vaccinate unless your cat will never be able to go outdoors, never be used for breeding, and will not be joined by another cat in the household at a later date. If a kitten’s mother is not vaccinated and has not been tested for FeLV then a kitten can be tested to see if he is already infected.

Worming

What are the signs of having worms?

Most cats show no obvious signs. Heavy infections can partially block the intestines and cause weight loss, vomiting, anaemia and failure to thrive, particularly in kittens.

What are worms?

Most commonly, cats get roundworms and tapeworms. These live in the intestines. Tapeworms are long, flat and segmented; whereas roundworms are 8-15 cm long and have a round body (like a piece of spaghetti). Infected cats will have microscopic eggs in their faeces and tapeworms release little segments into the faeces that you can see resembling grains of rice.

How are worms caught?

Roundworms can be caught by:

Eating the faeces of another (infected) cat.

Eating an ‘intermediate host’ i.e. an infected mouse or rat.

Most importantly through the milk of the queen (mother) to her kittens. Previous infections leave some dormant immature larvae in the tissues of the cats body, which when she gives birth migrate to the mammary glands are excreted in the milk. This means that nearly all kittens are infected at a very young age. It is safest to assume all kittens will be infected.

Tapeworms:

Tapeworms  are often caught via fleas. Flea larvae eat the tapeworm eggs in an infected cats faeces. When other Cats pick up the fleas and eat them during grooming they also become infected.

 Tapeworms are also transmitted via rodents although this is less common.

Treatment

Kittens:

Frequent treatment of kittens for roundworms is very important because they are nearly always infected at a young age. We advise worming a kitten every three weeks until three months of age and then every three months thereafter.

Older cats (over 6 months old)

Older cats are more likely to be infected with tapeworms so we advise using a product active against roundworm and tapeworm every 3 months.

It is important to understand that all worming products can only kill the worms living in the intestines on the day the treatment is given. They cannot protect the cat from re-infection afterwards. This is why repeated regular treatment is the only way to ensure your cat is free of worms.

Always wash your hands after handling your cat before eating, and make sure that children do too.