HEAlth advice for cats

Owning (or perhaps being owned by) a cat is one of life's greatest pleasures!  
Cats are both independent and incredibly loyal and loving but ownership is a big responsibility.
Abbey Vets will help in any way we can to give your cat the very best of health care throughout their life.

Abbey Vets: Health advice for cats
Neutering your cat

Is it necessary?  Yep, almost always.

Unless you are intending on using your cat for breeding purposes, we advise your pet is neutered. Male cats spray and stray.  Female cats will call and fall pregnant.

Neutering means having an operation under general anaesthetic where we surgically and safely remove the sex organs. In male animals we remove both testicles (called a castration). In female animals we remove both ovaries and the uterus (called an ovariohysterectomy or ‘spay’). Neutering is routinely discussed during your kitten's first course of vaccinations and is performed from around 4 or 5 months of age.

The breeding season for cats occurs over spring and summer. Cats are very efficient breeders and females can come into season as often as every few weeks. Therefore we recommend spaying your cat if unwanted pregnancies are to be avoided. Having your cat spayed will also eliminate the risk of developing a life threatening infection in the uterus called a pyometra and reduces the risk of developing mammary (breast) cancer later in life.  

Entire male cats will also stray to find an in-season female. This increases the chance that they may become lost or involved in a road traffic accident. They are also more likely to fight with other cats, which can result in injuries and abscesses.  

There are also several life threatening diseases, particularly Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV) that are easily transmitted through mating and fighting. Therefore, neutering your cat will reduce the risk of contracting these diseases.  

We recommend neutering your cat from 4 to 5 months old.

Dental care for your cat

The commonest disease cats suffer from is....oh we gave it away already

Dental disease is the most common medical condition in cats. It can be prevented by limiting the amount of plaque build up on your cat’s teeth. If left untreated it can lead to permanent problems with the teeth, gums and bone of the jaw.  

PLaque that lives on tartar contains bacteria, which will attack the surrounding gum tissue causing inflammation (gingivitis) and infection that can track down to the tooth roots (peridontal disease). Infection can build up in the roots causing an abscess to form.  Inflammation and infection also erodes and weakens the tissues and as the disease progresses teeth will loosen and fall out. If the bacteria build up in enough numbers they can enter the blood stream and cause damage to other major organs such as the heart and kidneys.

If your cat has significant dental disease, you may notice a foul smelling breath, discomfort when eating, unusual swellings on the jaw or nose, salivation or pawing at the mouth. However, most of the time there are no outward signs at all and disease it picked up during routine health checks or other consultations. This is one reason why it is important for your cat to have regular health checks with the vet.  

Using a toothbrush to regularly brush your cat’s teeth is the best way of preventing plaque build up and dental disease but not easy and often requires alot of patience to get them used to it.  For this reason, it is a good idea to get your cat used to brushing from an early age. Cat toothbrushes and toothpaste are available at all of our branches. We are happy to organise a free consultation with one of our nurses to show you how to brush your cat’s teeth effectively. If your cat will not tolerate tooth brushing there is a special diet your cat can be on to reduce plaque build up. This is a dry food with slightly larger and tougher kibble, which helps in breaking down plaque and contains a formula, which prevents the build up of bacteria. This can be fed as a complete diet or added as a component of your cat’s current diet.


Life saving, essential but something to be discussed for each individual

Making sure your cat is vaccinated against infectious diseases is an important part of pet ownership. Vaccination provides your cat with immunity (the ability to fight infections) by exposing them to a safe dose of the disease in question.

The risk of these diseases is related to your cats lifestyle.  A bold cat who is frequently outdoors and has a large territory is more likely to meet more cats in the local area; cats that frequently go into catteries or stay with friends with other pets will be exposed to more possible disease risk than a more shy indoor cat.  All the various options for vaccination can be discussed with our vets.  Abbey Vets provide a personal approach that ensures they are covered for what they need in accordance with the very latest expert opinions.

This immunity does not last forever and will wane over time. Therefore we advise your cat have annual health check to discuss the frequency of their ‘booster’ injections to maintain their immune status. These appointments are also a good opportunity for your cat to receive a full health and dental check and detect any early signs of diseases or problems.

For any questions regarding vaccinating your cat or to check your cat’s vaccination status please contact your local clinic .

Flea control

The absolute "number 1" parasite we see just about every day

Fleas are the most common external parasite seen in veterinary practices in the UK. Fleas are easily and quickly spread between animals and can also live in the environment for long periods of time, including in carpets and furniture.

You can protect your catt from flea infestations by regularly using the flea treatment available at the clinic. Most flea treatments are required monthly but this does vary depending on the product used. Signs that your cat may have fleas are;

However, sometimes cats do not show any outward signs of having fleas. A good way to check if your cat has fleas is to comb the hair over the back with a flea comb or another very fine-toothed comb. If you then wipe the debris from this comb onto damp white paper/tissue, you will identify flea dirt if the flecks of dirt from the comb turn red. You may well not see any live fleas, in fact, if you do see live fleas this is often an indication of a heavy infestation. If you find that your cat has fleas, using one of our flea products will kill them within 24-48 hours. here is a video that demonstrates the technique -

However it is very important that you treat any other pets you have with a species-specific flea product at the same time. It is also important that you use a product to treat your carpets, floor and furnishings to kill any fleas living in your house. If this is not done, untreated fleas from other pets or from your house can re-infest your pet once the flea treatment has worn off and they may start biting you and your family instead. Flea infestations can be frustrating and difficult to get rid of. Therefore once you have controlled the fleas among your pets and house, it is important to regularly treat your pet with a suitable flea product to prevent an infestation re-occurring.

For advice on which flea product to use for your cat or if you are worried your cat may have fleas, please contact the clinic.

Tick control

Nasty little critters with a potential sting in the tail (or bite)

Ticks are brown, oval shaped insects that attach to your cat by their mouthparts when they bite and feed off their blood. When they are attached to your cat they can sometimes look like a small warty growth. Ticks are particularly prevalent in forested land, heathland and moorland areas. However, they can still easily be picked up in suburban parks. Cats are particularly prone to getting ticks as they are often rummaging in the undergrowth of such areas.

To remove it we recommend an o'tom tick hook see the video (not sure why it is so noisy!!) -

If you think your cat has a tick, it can be removed by a qualified member of staff at the clinic. You can also give your pet a tick treatment, which are available at the clinic in tablet or ‘spot-on’ form. Please do not be tempted to pull the tick off. If you do this, the mouthparts of the tick will be left under your cat's skin and can cause an infection.

Worm control

Not just a risk to cats but humans too.  Too important to ignore.

Regular worm control is an important part of responsible cat ownership. Not only can a worm burden cause health issues for your cat but some worms can also infect people and their larval stages can cause numerous health problems including blindness, with children being the most at risk.

Therefore regular worming with a suitable product is essential to ensure the health of you and your cat. The most common intestinal worms can be categorised as roundworms and tapeworms.

Worm control regimes depend a lot on the age and life-style of your cat. Free advice on a suitable worm control plan for your cat is available upon consultation with one of our nurses.   Worm control is also discussed in detail with the vet during your puppy or kitten’s primary vaccination course and at annual boosters.

Summer Hazards

Cats get sunburn too!

Now that summer is officially here we are experiencing some unusually hot days. This hot weather can create new risks to your cat’s health including heat stroke, sunburn and dehydration.

Cats can get dehydrated very quickly in the heat. Therefore it is important to make sure they always have access to fresh, clean water. It is important they have access to shade at all times if they are outside so they have somewhere to retreat to.

Cats with flat faces such as Persians are particularly at risk of over heating which can lead to life threatening breathing difficulties and heat stroke. If you are concerned your cat is over heating, we recommend covering them in cold, wet towels in a calm, quiet and shaded environment while you contact the clinic for advice.  

NEVER leave your pet in a parked car for ANY length of time. Cars become excessively hot even if it isn’t that hot outside. Leaving your pet inside a parked vehicle can result in fatal heat stroke within minutes.  

Cats with white fur and/or pink noses and ear tips are also susceptible to sun burn. Please ensure you apply sun block to pink areas to avoid painful sunburn and the development of skin cancer.  

Care should be taken when using pesticides and insecticides in your garden. These can be dangerous if your pet ingests them. Avoid using these chemicals or source pet friendly versions.  

If you are having a barbecue or garden party please make sure your cat is supervised at all times. Barbecues can cause serious burns and injuries if knocked over or jumped on and a sizzling sausage can be very tempting for cats. Please also be cautious of giving your cat meat from the barbecue. Ensure that food has cooled enough for your cat to eat otherwise they can cause serious burns to the mouth and food pipe (oesophagus). Make sure your guests aren’t getting carried away feeding your pets. Burgers and sausages are much more fatty than your cat’s normal diet and can cause gastroenteritis or pancreatitis if large volumes are eaten. One treat from the barbecue shouldn’t cause a problem but it could soon mount up if everyone is doing it! Please also make sure you fully dispose of food waste. Many cats will scavenge through bin bags.

Finally, longhaired pets may benefit from having their fur stripped or clipped during the summer months. This can dramatically improved their comfort during the hot weather and make managing them in the heat a lot easier.

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Abbey Veterinary Centres established as one of first veterinary surgeons in Wales

Veterinary Surgeons with special interests in all aspects of medicine and surgery

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