Cats & Kittens

Vaccinations

kittensVaccination has a major role to play in keeping your cat healthy. Having said that, we are also keen to vaccinate only as often as we believe to be necessary.

Vaccination provides protection against several contagious viruses, (Feline Enteritis, the Cat Flu viruses and Feline Leukaemia virus), which can be contracted from the environment or from unvaccinated cats. We still see these life-threatening diseases in unvaccinated cats, and the heart-breaking fact is that they can so easily be prevented.

At Abbey Veterinary Group a full health assessment is included in the price of every vaccination appointment.

This is always a good opportunity for us to examine your pet for any problems that you may or may not have been aware of. Regular examinations mean early diagnosis of conditions and gives your pet a better chance of a successful outcome.

In summary, vaccination is a safe, reliable and cost-effective way of giving your cat the best chance of living a long and healthy life.

Once kittens have had their initial vaccination course at 9 and 12 weeks, it is important for them to have an annual booster vaccination. It is vital to maintain their immunity as older cats can still succumb to these killer diseases.

There is no evidence that the immunity lasts longer in older cats. In fact elderly cats, like elderly people, are more likely to have a poor immune system and so you may need to restart the vaccination course if the booster is allowed to lapse.

Rabies vaccinations are available for pets destined to travel abroad

Fleas

What can fleas do to my pet?

• Flea bites cause discomfort and irritation.

• Many pets become sensitised to flea bites which lead to intense itchiness, and severe self-inflicted trauma.

• Fleas are responsible for transmitting some tapeworms to our pets.

How can fleas affect my family?

Although animal fleas do not live on people, flea bites can cause rashes in people and some individuals can develop intense skin reaction to flea bites.

How can I control the flea probem?

• Please consult us to discuss the options. Prinovox is included in the VIP Pet Healthcare Plan.

• It is practically impossible to prevent your pet coming into contact with fleas so regular treatments are necessary to control the problem.

Flea Control

Fleas breed throughout the year in centrally heated homes, therefore it is important to maintain a flea control programme throughout the year, killing adult fleas and preventing a build   up in the environment.

Pet Treatments

Spot on applications such as Prinovox are applied on to the skin in the neck region and quickly kill adult fleas. If Prinovox is applied regularly every month it gives excellent long term control of fleas and will help to control skin problems.

Another almost unique feature of using Prinovoxis that it kills and prevents infestation with ear mites (Otodectes). This is a very common parasite, particularly in kittens and young cats and if untreated can lead to severe ear problems.

Prinovoxdoes not contain organophosphates or permethrins and is extremely safe.

Worms

Keep your pet and family safe!

Using our prescriptions for worms will control all the important worms that your cat may pick up. Please ask us for advice on the best choice from our range of safe & easy worming options.

What can worms do to my cat?

With mild infestation your cat may still appear healthy, however a heavy worm burden can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, weight loss and can weaken your cat’s immune system making it more susceptible to infection. It is also a little embarrassing to find a tapeworm segment on the clothes of a visitor who has been making a fuss of your cat.

What can worms do to my family?

The greatest threat to human health is from the larvae of the roundworm Toxocara. The eggs of these worms may be picked up on the hands of children from either the pet or the environment. Infection then occurs when children put unwashed hands in their mouths. Although serious consequences are quite rare, these worms can cause blindness, heart problems and epilepsy in children.

How would my cat get worms?

Kittens can get roundworms from their mothers. Worm eggs are also picked up from the ground where faeces have been left. During grooming your cat ingests these eggs. Tapeworms can be picked up when pets groom and swallow fleas that are infected with tapeworm eggs and also hunting cats will pick up tapeworms from eating small mammals. Tapeworms in the UK are not a risk to humans.

How can I control the problem?

Using Prinovox every month not only prevents fleas, it also keeps your cat completely free from roundworm (Toxocara). As the cat is being wormed continuously there is no chance of him putting your family, or other pets, at risk by passing out worm eggs.

Tapeworms are not common locally & not a risk to pet or human health,
but can be treated specifically if seen.

Please feel free to discuss any aspects of parasite control with a vet or one of the healthcare nursing team.

Dental Care

Dental disease is one of the more common problems we see, and much of the dental work we perform could have been prevented by early attention to preventative healthcare.

What should I look out for?

Temporary teeth in young animals sometimes fail to fall out at 6-7 months of age, resulting in misalignment of the permanent teeth. They can also create pockets in the gum in which food accumulates, leading to gum infection. Temporary teeth can be removed (under anaesthesia) if they cause a problem.

  1. Abnormal jaw development – This can lead to irregular growth of teeth
  2. Gum disease – This is largely preventable with routine care. As with humans, the crux of good dental hygiene lies in the daily removal of plaque.
  3. Plaque – This is made up of bacteria and food debris and builds up on the teeth throughout the day.If the plaque is left it becomes hard tartar/calculus which damages the gum. The gum is then pushed back and exposes the roots of the teeth. Eventually the teeth come loose and can fall out or have to be removed. This process leads to infection of the surrounding gum and bone, causing pain, bad breath and problems eating.

Dental disease can be a source of bacteria and toxins which travel via the blood to other parts of the body, including heart and kidneys.

Cats can be reluctant to have their teeth brushed. Starting early in your kitten’s life gives the best chance of getting him/her used to it.

We Recommend:

• Good quality dental diets such as Hills T/D

• CET fish flavoured toothpaste

Our Healthcare nurses would be happy to advise you on our routine dental hygiene plans.

Pet Insurance

One pet in three will require veterinary treatment this year. Perhaps this treatment will be a ‘one-off’ problem like broken bones after a road accident. It may equally be an ongoing problem like diabetes, a skin allergy or arthritis.

As medical and surgical treatments become more advanced, inevitably the cost of first class veterinary care increases and in some cases becomes a limiting factor. This can be a heart-wrenching position to be in.

For a fraction of the cost of feeding your pet, it is now possible to insure him/her against accident, illness and injury.

With the exception of vaccinations and elective procedures like neutering, all you pay in the event of a problem is the excess on your policy – the rest is taken care of and your pet can receive the very best treatment that money can buy.

Selecting a policy…

Take care – they come in all shapes and sizes! Be aware that some policies will only cover an illness for 12 months before cover stops while others provide lifelong cover for ongoing conditions. Leaflets are available in reception.

We recommend combining the VIP Pet Healthcare Plan with an insurance policy to give you absolute peace of mind for all your pet’s healthcare needs. Please do not change your insurance provider without talking to us first as some conditions may be excluded.

Abbey Veterinary Group now offer a scheme to help you spread the cost of routine treatments throughout the year on a direct debit basis (i.e. vaccinations, flea treatment and worming).

Membership of VIP Pet Healthcare Plan will also give extra savings on other services, but while this plan includes the added benefit of Pet Accident Treatment Insurance this will not cover illness or medical conditions and therefore will not replace general Pet Insurance.

Microchipping

Microchipping is a quick, easy and painless one-off injection that places a tiny microchip under the skin of the scruff of the neck. There is no need for sedation or anaesthesia. Each microchip carries a unique number that can be read by a portable scanner and will allow the authorities to contact you should your cat get lost.

Why should I have my cat microchipped?

1. The microchip is a permanent means of identifying your pet. Collars and tags, however useful, can easily be lost.

2. Should your pet become lost, the microchip system will help to return him/her to you with the minimum of delay and avoid him/her being re-homed or even destroyed. This is particularly important if your pet is seriously injured and taken to the nearest vet.

3. Pets travelling abroad are required to be micro-chipped as part of the Pet Travel Scheme.

How can I be traced if my pet is found?

Your information is kept for life on our practice computer system and a National Database and the fee for this is included in the cost of the implantation. If your pet is found and its chip number identified, it is a relatively easy matter to reunite you with your pet. The chips we use comply with the International Standard (ISO) and so can be recognised by scanners abroad.

What if my personal details change?

Whilst the microchip with its unique number will remain with your pet for life, it is essential that you update your personal details on the National Database as and when they change particularly if you move address or change your contact telephone numbers.

Can microchips have side effects?

A European reporting system which monitors reactions to microchip implantation has failed to identify any significant problems in the last 8 years.

Neutering

We recommend:

All pet cats are neutered, unless intended for breeding.

Neutering

Neutering in the male is called castration, and involves removing both testicles. In the female, the operation is commonly called spaying, and both ovaries and the womb are removed.

Why is it good to neuter your male cat?

Some problematic behavioural traits may, in part, be linked to male hormones. These include aggressive, hyper-sexual and territorial behaviour, including spraying – all of which may be unacceptable in a home environment.

Castration of cats has been shown to reduce their tendency to exhibit such traits.

Uncastrated male cats tend to spray urine indoors and are also more likely to fight with other cats. Serious wounds may be inflicted and form abscesses, or life threatening untreatable diseases (e.g. Feline Leukaemia, Feline Aids) transmitted.

Why is it good to neuter your female cat?

Apart from the obvious advantage of preventing unwanted litters, a female cat will have seasons for most of the year. Each season lasts 3 – 4 weeks and starts with her showing a behaviour known as “calling”.

This can be distressing to owners as it sounds as though she is in pain. She will become desperate to get out of the house to find a mate, increasing the risk of road traffic accidents and unwanted pregnancies.

When should the operation be performed?

Neutering cats of both sexes is usually performed at 4 – 6 months of age.

Are there any disadvantages of neutering?

Neutering is a surgical procedure and involves an anaesthetic. In a young healthy animal, the risk associated with this anaesthetic is minimal. Neutered animals have a reduced metabolic rate, and so there may be a tendency to put on weight if the same quantity of food is given.

However, a reduction of food intake, or a light diet, will easily control this. One of our healthcare nursing team would be happy to discuss any queries with you.

Nutrition

How important is proper nutrition?

The right diet is vital to keep your cat fit and healthy. Poor nutrition accounts for a remarkably high percentage of the health problems we see. These include vomiting, diarrhoea, flatulence, obesity, dental problems, growth deformities, heart, kidney and skin problems.

What type of diet should I feed?

• Homemade diets – these are rarely nutritionally balanced or complete. They are relatively difficult to prepare and can be expensive.

• Commercial diets – quality diets are convenient and are nutritionally balanced. We recommend the Hills diets which contain no colouring, artificial flavours or bulking agents. They are manufactured using only high quality natural ingredients.

Is wet or dry food better?

Dry food is more cost effective and helps to keep the teeth and gums healthy. Tinned food or pouches have a much higher water content which means that more may be required to satisfy your pet’s appetite. However some pets find tinned food or pouches more palatable and easier to digest.

There are many different life stage diets to consider. Hills diets offer a high quality range for cats that are tailored to meet their individual nutritional needs. Our healthcare nurses would be happy to advise you on the best diet for your cat.

The Hills diets offer specific diets for all stages of your cat’s life.

Kitten food is a diet for young cats and is designed to provide the extra nutrients needed by growing kittens. Kittens have intense needs for balanced growth, particularly in terms of energy, protein and minerals.

Their digestive system is delicate and their immune system immature. This diet can also be fed to the lactating mother.

Junior cat is a diet for young cats from neutering until 1 year old offering weight regulation and reinforced immunity health benefits

Adult cat diet provides all the nutritional requirements of an adult cat while reducing the risk of obesity, hairball’s, and helping prevent the occurrence of the most common stones and crystals found in cat’s urine.

Senior cat diet is designed for pets over 10 years old. It is beneficial in maintaining urinary health, promoting joint support, vision support and helping delay the signs of brain ageing.

Behaviour and Training

Handling your kitten

It is important to start regular grooming as early as possible, particularly with long-haired cats. If you start handling your kitten now she/he will regard this as routine, making your life a lot easier and safer!

Socialising your new kitten

A well-behaved cat is a joy to have around. To ensure good behaviour throughout its life, training should start as early as possible, and your cat should be fully socialised.

The first fifteen weeks of every cat’s life is a uniquely sensitive period in which they can absorb many new experiences without fear. The more they can be exposed to these experiences at an early age the less likely they are to become scared and stressed later on in life.

It is vital, therefore, that you allow your young kitten to interact with adults, children, cats and other pets, and that you let them experience a wide range of household noises, appliances, cars, the countryside, the town, and so on.

Vaccinating as early as possible will allow socialisation outdoors and in the company of other animals, without fear of disease.

Litter Training

Cats are generally very clean animals and they will usually have already been litter trained. All you need to do is ensure that the tray is kept clean and is in a quiet area in the house. Cats do not want their toilet to be next to a busy walkway in the house or near their food.

Toys

Kittens rarely play with the nice expensive toys that you buy for them and are more likely to find enjoyment out of batting ping-pong balls around the room and hiding in cardboard boxes.

Don’t be tempted to use your hands or feet for kittens to pounce on as this can lead to serious behavioural problems later on in their life.

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