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Cats

Advice and services ensuring the best of care for your cat

Advice and Services for Cats

Dental Health

Dental disease is the most common problem and the most under-treated condition in cats and dogs. It is also an area where a few small changes can make a huge difference to their pets' oral hygiene and health.

As young cats' gums can be tender until about six months old, it is best just to rub their gums with finger-tips until they get used to their mouth being handled. It can be harder for an owner to examine the mouth of their cat than it is with a dog, especially if the cat is of a fractious nature.

However, in even the most stubborn of cats, it is usually possible to examine the mouth with minimal amount of stress to the cat and physical bodily harm to the owner. If the cat gets used to having its mouth examined as a kitten then it will be used to the process by the time it reaches adulthood. Some useful dental aids are:

  • Dry Food: Do not soften with water so it stays chrunchy
  • Dental Gels: A blob is placed inside the dogs mouth to destroy the bacteria which cause calculus formation (can help in difficult-to-handle pets)

Common Dental Problems

  • FORLs (Feline Oral Resorpitive Lesions)
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Abscesses
  • Broken teeth
  • Tumors

If your cat requires dental attention, most dental procedures require a general anaesthetic and are carried out as day patients.

Flea Control

Fleas are found anywhere that cats go. Unless you use flea prevention treatments, your cat will inevitably pick them up. A single flea can lay thousands of microscopic eggs, which are very tough and can survive for two years on the ground or in your home. In many cases, when you think your cat has picked up a flea outside, it may be from an egg that was already in your house.

What are the symptoms?

Fleas and their bites cause itching and irritation. You may or may not see fleas or specks of black flea dirt among your cat's fur. Cats commonly become allergic to flea saliva. This causes a severe dermatitis with hair loss and crusty scabs around the head and along the back. Itching is severe. Treating your cat regularly will prevent an allergy from starting.

Fleas are also intermediate hosts for tapeworm, so any cat that picks up fleas should also be given worming treatment. 

Fleas will not live on people, but we can get bitten, leaving red marks on the skin.

Which flea product?

There are lots of flea products on the market including spot-ons, tablets, shampoos, powders and sprays. The most effective products, in our experience, are long-acting spot-ons and tablets.

Many treatments are available over-the-counter but some of the best ones are prescription-only. To buy these, your cat needs to be registered with us and we may ask you to bring them in for a weight and health check if we haven't examined them before. You can easily register online with us here.

When dealing with an established flea problem, it is very important to treat all pets in the household, as well as any others that are in contact. Your home should also be treated to kill immature flea stages. As the eggs are so hardy, treatment of your pets and house may need to be repeated regularly for several months to fully control a severe flea infestation.

Never use flea products designed for dogs on your cat!
Many over-the-counter dog products contain permethrin and, whilst this is safe for dogs, it can cause fatal toxicity in cats. Always read the packaging and follow instructions carefully.

Worming

There are many parasitic worms that can infect cats, including roundworm, tapeworm, hookworm and whipworm. These worms live in your cat's intestine and may cause weight loss, sickness and diarrhoea. Kittens may be in poor condition with a 'pot belly' appearance.

Remember, prevention is better than cure.

How often should I treat?

For kittens, we recommend treating for roundworms every two weeks from birth until 12 weeks old.

Adult cats should be treated every three months or more frequently if they are hunters.

How does my cat get infected with worms?

Kittens can become infected with roundworms through their mother's milk.

Many types of parasitic worm eggs are passed in cat faeces. They are swallowed accidentally when a cat cleans its paws after digging in soil or cat litter.

Tapeworms are not passed directly between cats but require an intermediate host. This can be a small mammal, such as a mouse or vole, or fleas. The lifecycle is completed when a cat eats an intermediate host.

Can these worms be passed on to my family?

Although it is unlikely that you or your family will catch worms from your pet, it is possible for people to be infected by roundworms or Toxocara. Roundworm eggs are passed in cat faeces and can persist in soil or sand, sometimes for years. Small children are most at risk from infection, which occurs when eggs are accidentally swallowed. The eggs then hatch into larvae which can move through body tissues causing damage, notably to the eyes.

There is also a risk, particularly to expectant mums, from another parasite called Toxoplasma, which can be present in cat faeces.

To prevent human infection, it is important to:

  • Worm your cat regularly
  • Empty and clean your cat's litter tray frequently. Pregnant women should be particularly careful - if possible another family member should do this
  • Cover children's sandpits to avoid contamination with cat faeces
  • Wash hands thoroughly after gardening, especially if cats use the area for toileting
  • Ensure that all family members wash their hands thoroughly with soap after being outdoor (rub-on hand sanitisers won't do the job)
  • Teach young children not to put dirty hands to their mouths or faces

Which wormer?

There is a huge choice when it comes to worming products, however many do not treat all of the different types of worms. We recommend you choose a broad spectrum worming product supplied by us, so you can be assured that it will be effective. We have tablet, liquid, granule and spot-on preparations available. Giving the right dose is very important, so we are happy to weigh your kitten or cat free of charge at any of our surgeries. If you are unsure, you are welcome to arrange a free nurse consultation to review your cat's parasite control needs or call or email your query to us. 

Flea prevention should also be considered as fleas can spread tapeworm.

Neutering

Neutering your cat, whether it is male or female, has a number of advantages for both health and behaviour. Neutering can usually be done from four months of age but we will advise if this should be delayed for any reason.

Both male and female cats are treated as day patients for their surgery. Castration involves removal of both testicles via a simple incision and minimal aftercare is required. Spaying a female cat involves a hysterectomy and removal of both ovaries preventing further seasons. The spay wound is usually on the left side and your cat will be discharged with an elizabethan collar or a 'bucket' to wear to prevent her licking at the wound. It is important to keep this on as persistent licking can cause the wound to open.

Neutering is a routine procedure that is carried out almost every day by our vets. You will be given full advice regarding aftercare of your cat, but for further information, please do not hesitate to contact your nearest surgery if you are concerned about anything.

Vaccinations and Diseases

Vaccinations

Why vaccinate?

Vaccination is vital to protect your animal from a wide range of highly infectious and potentially fatal diseases. Prevention is better than cure and vaccination provides an effective and safe way to ensure your pet is protected.

How do vaccines work?

Vaccines stimulate your animal's immune system by effectively mimicking the bugs without causing any of the symptoms of the disease. This means if your pet encounters the disease, it recognizes it and mounts a strong immune response, preventing the disease from establishing. Two vaccinations are needed initially to allow this immune stimulation to occur, but after this it can be boosted by annual vaccination.

When should my cat be vaccinated?

Vaccination should start as soon as possible, as younger animals are more vulnerable to infection and can be more severely affected than older animals. We advise vaccinating your kitten with their first vaccination at nine weeks old, and their second at 12 weeks. Full immunity does not develop until one week after the second injection. We have chosen this vaccine as it gives earlier protection than some other vaccines.

Which vaccinations should my cat receive?

We follow and recommend WSAVA guidelines on vaccination and frequency. We recommend vaccinating against Feline Herpes Virus, Feline calcivirus and Feline Panleucopenia Virus, as well as Feline Leukemia Virus. These are all given as a single, annual injection. If you are considering travelling abroad with your cat, check with the practice at least six months and with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to see if your cat needs any other vaccinations.
 

About the Diseases

Feline Herpes Virus (FHV)

FHV belongs to the same family of viruses that cause cold sores in humans. Along with Feline Calcivirus (FCV) it is the major cause of 'Cat Flu'. This condition is most common in young kittens and causes sneezing, nasal discharge, oral ulcers, conjunctivitis and can result in permanent damage to the eyes. Once an animal contracts FHV, it is infected for life and the condition can resurface during times of stress and spread to other cats in close contact. Cat Flu normally lasts for up to two weeks. 

Feline Calicivirus (FCV)

FCV is the other major virus involved in Cat Flu. It has similar symptoms to FHV but is more likely to cause oral ulcers than FHV. These oral ulcers can be very painful, your cat may be unable to eat or drink and may drool excessively. Clinical signs are not as severe as FHV but the FCV is a more common cause of infection. It is possible to have a mixed Cat Flu infection. Cat Flu is rarely fatal but can progress to pneumonia and death in young or immunosupressed kittens.

Feline Panleukopaenia Virus (FPV)

FPV is also known as Feline Infectious Enteritis (FIE) and is a highly infectious virus that is stable in the environment. Because of this, it can be picked up and spread by owners when they leave the house, even if your cat doesn't. FPV causes vomiting, diarrhoea and anorexia and is fatal in between 25 - 75% of cases.

If a pregnant cat is infected with FPV, then the virus can cross the placenta and affect the unborn kittens. The virus moves into the developing brain of the kittens and prevents proper development of the part of the brain involved with movement and co-ordination known as cerebellum. This manifests when the kittens start to move around and they develop a shaky, trembling gait when they try to walk.

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)

Feline Leukemia Virus is another virus that is most common in young cats. FeLV requires direct contact with an infected cat and therefore, isolated indoor cats are at minimal risk. FeLV causes a wide range of clinical signs and as its name suggests, it can cause Leukemia. It can also cause other cancers, such as lymphoma which, depending on the location, can carry a very poor prognosis. FeLV also commonly causes immunosuppression and anemia. Other conditions associated with FeLV include liver failure, fertility problems, including abortion and stillbirth, and inflammation of the gut.

There is no treatment for FeLV once your cat has contracted it. Symptoms can be treated symptomatically, but the underlying cause can not be removed. It has been estimated that 85% of infected cats die within three years.

Practice information

Kilmarnock Surgery

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    9:00am - 7:00pm
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    9:00am - 7:00pm
  • Sat
    9:00am - 2:00pm
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21 Hill Street Kilmarnock Ayrshire KA3 1HF
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Mauchline Surgery

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    8:30am - 7:00pm*
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    8:30am - 7:00pm*
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    8:30am - 7:00pm*
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    8:30am - 1:00pm*
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16 Kilmarnock Road Mauchline Ayrshire KA5 5DE
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Beith Surgery

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    9:00am - 6:30pm
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    9:00am - 6:30pm
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    9:00am - 6:30pm
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  • Fri
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    9:00am - 12:00pm
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26 Kings Road Beith Ayrshire KA15 2BQ
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