Raising a Healthy Cat
Comprehensive health care includes not only proper treatment for your cat in the event of illness or injury, but also an ongoing emphasis on routine preventive health care.
Proper immunization can prevent a variety of serious diseases. We recommend vaccinating all cats against rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia (feline distemper.) This vaccine is often referred to as FVRCP. Every cat should be tested for the deadly feline leukemia and immunodeficiency viruses. Cats spending time outdoors should be vaccinated against the feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and rabies. Vaccinations should be repeated in 3 to 4 weeks for previously unvaccinated cats or any cats with unknown vaccination history. Most vaccinations are repeated every 3 years after the first year booster. Exposure to many of these diseases can be decreased by limiting outdoor access. Because of the dangers involved with the outdoors (including cars, dogs, coyotes, aggressive cats, infectious diseases and toxins) it is wise to keep cats exclusively indoors.
Cats are susceptible to a variety of parasites. Cats can get parasites early in life from their mother, from contact with contaminated fecal matter or dirt, or by eating infected fleas or rodents. Intestinal parasites may cause weight loss, diarrhea, vomiting, anemia, and, in extreme cases, intestinal blockage or rupture. Observe your cat's stools for worms and bring in a small amount of fresh stool for microscopic analysis yearly or if parasites or abnormal stools are noted.
We recommend feeding high quality cat food. Avoid excessive treats and table scraps. These foods can unbalance a good diet and lead to obesity.
Obesity is a common nutritional disease usually caused by overfeeding. Obesity can lead to joint, heart, respiratory, liver, intestinal, and reproductive disorders. Obesity may cause diabetes and lower resistance to infections. Since there are other diseases which may cause or mimic obesity, your cat should have an examination and possible laboratory testing or radiography before starting a weight reduction program. If your cat is overweight, avoid high calorie food, treats and table scraps. Feed your cat less of the regular food or switch to a lower calorie food. Feel free to weigh your cat on our scale to monitor your progress.
Routine, thorough brushing helps keep the coat in optimal condition. Flea combs are helpful in removing fleas, debris, and dead hair. Baths may be given as often as necessary to keep the coat and skin clean and flea free. Consult your veterinarian regarding the proper shampoo for your pet's skin condition and hair coat.
To prevent flea problems, we recommend Trifexis, Advantage or Frontline to kill adult fleas when they jump on your pet.
Use of an ear cleanser, available from your veterinarian, to rinse your pet's ears once a month and after baths will help prevent infections. Ear infections can cause discharge, odor, redness, and scratching or head-shaking, and usually require professional evaluation, ear flushing, and medication.
Dental disease is a common and serious problem in older cats. The progression of dental disease may be slowed by feeding dry food and daily tooth brushing with pet toothpaste. Professional cleaning will be required periodically depending on your pet's needs.
Cats not intended for breeding should be spayed (female) or castrated (male) to prevent a variety of serious health and behavior problems. Neutering will not change your pet's normal behavior and will prevent unwanted kittens. Spaying prevents uterine and ovarian infections and cancers, and some behavior problems. Neutered males fight, roam, and urine mark much less often than “tom-cats”. Feeding less after neutering may be necessary to prevent obesity. Neutering should be done between 3 and 6 months of age.
If you plan on breeding your pet, an examination and consultation before breeding is highly recommended.
Click on the following link to read more about why you should neuter your kitten.
Many normal feline behaviors, such as spraying, clawing, and fighting, become objectionable as we invite cats indoors. Most unacceptable actions can be reduced through behavior modification, medication, and in some cases, surgery. Your veterinarian should be consulted to rule out any underlying medical disorders and make recommendations concerning your pet's behavior.
Any cat that is allowed outside should wear a collar or harness with a name tag so that you may be contacted in an emergency. The collar should stretch or break to allow your cat to escape if it becomes hung up on a fence or branch. Collars are also available with reflective strips to provide added safety at night.
The local shelters and emergency clinics not only look for name tags but also check for the presence of an implanted microchip. Microchip insertion is a safe, convenient, permanent, and highly recommended method of identification.
Once scanned, the microchip information will allow a pet owner to be contacted to retrieve their pet.
An examination is warranted whenever you notice any illness or abnormalities in your cat. Bring a stool sample if your cat is having gastrointestinal problems (vomiting or diarrhea) or if it has been more than a year since the last fecal examination.
If your cat remains apparently healthy, an annual physical examination is recommended to discover any underlying disease and discuss preventive health care.
Yearly blood testing is highly recommended regardless of the age of your pet. As your pet ages, these examinations be come more critical and may include blood tests, urinalysis, or radiographs.
Cornell University has some good feline videos including
Home Health Care for Cats
- Brushing Your Cat's Teeth
- Giving Your Cat a Pill or Capsule
- Giving Your Cat Liquid Medications
- Taking Your Cat's Temperature
- Trimming Your Cat's Claws
- Caring for Your Diabetic Cat
- Gastrointestinal Diseases in Cats
- Cat Owner's Guide to Kidney Diseases
- Managing Destructive Scratching Behavior in Cats
- Pet Owner's Guide to Cancer
We hope you and your cat enjoy many happy and healthy years together!