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Top common questions about cats

1. Should I desex my pet and when?

  • Owners often worry whether desexing their pet is good or bad for their health. We can safely say that desexing your pet is for sure the BEST thing you can do for your pet. You massively reduce the risk of cancerous diseases and medical emergencies such as ‘pyometra’. Your pet will be easier to handle and less likely to have unwanted hormone related behaviors. You will prevent breeding related problems, prevent unwanted litters and help with the general pet population control.
  • By desexing your pet you ensure maximizing their life span by avoiding potentially fatal diseases while also avoiding potentially huge veterinary bills.
  • The concerns owners may have about surgery are massively outweighed by the benefits it brings.
  • Female cats can be desexed anytime from 5 months old, ideally we desex before 8 months old due to the high risk of them becoming pregnant!
  • The same goes for males, anytime after 5 months old, if left too long they may start marking or ‘spraying’ the house.
  • Desexing cats is critical to preventing unwanted litters and wild feral colonies which can spread disease.

2. What should I feed my cat?

  • We recommend dry kibble for most cats. This food has the ‘complete’ requirements for your pet including all the energy, minerals and vitamins needed.
  • Dry kibble is better for your pets dental health versus wet food which doesn’t require crunching. We generally see better weight management on dry-only diets also.
  • Wet food can be used as required for certain pets that are picky along with home cooked foods. Cooked meats are quite healthy but we still recommend mixing some kibble to ensure they get all their minerals and vitamins.
  • Kittens and juveniles can be fed growth specific bags while certain conditions such as allergies and urolithiasis (bladder stones) require prescription foods.
    Please refrain from feeding raw food as it can cause food poisoning, allergies and parasite burden.
  • Most importantly DON’T OVERFEED.

3. How can I keep my cat’s teeth clean?
There are multiple ways you can maintain optimal dental health at home

  • Brushing is always best. Get a pet toothbrush and toothpaste and slowly introduce cleaning. This is your best way at preventing plaque accumulation on your pets teeth. Admittedly this can be difficult with most cats.
  • Dental foods encourage extra crunching and to get the teeth to engage the kibble and help plaque breakdown. Example being Hills Dental Care T/D
  • Water additives such as Healthy Mouth works similar to mouthwash and is mixed with drinking water
  • Dental chews such as greenies and toys can help plaque breakdown.
  • Routine scale and polish.

We perform routine dental procedures daily here in MyVet Zetland. This is a very safe procedure which will help keep teeth in prime condition. We recommend a yearly clean if possible.

4. How can I protect my cat from parasites?

  • By keeping your cat indoors only you will reduce the risk of exposure. However parasites can still come in via visitors or catios so it’s recommended to keep up to date just in case.
  • Advocate can be given on the skin of the back of the neck monthly. For a longer acting product you can try Bravecto Plus which lasts 3 months.
  • For outdoor hunting cats for complete cover you can give an ‘all-wormer’ for tapeworm tablet every 3 months.
  • Regular grooming can help detect any parasites on your cat

5. How often should I vaccinate my cat?
Regular vaccinations are important to prevent the spread of disease varying from milder flu disease to potentially fatal FeLV/FIV diseases.
Depending on the lifestyle of your cat we have different vaccination schedules.

  • If indoors-only with limited cattery time the only regular vaccine required is the cat ‘flu’ vaccine which contains herpesvirus (FHV), calicivirus (FCV) and parvovirus or feline enteritis. These are known as the F3 vaccines.
  • If indoors-only with moderate time spent in catteries we recommend an additional Chlamydia Felis vaccination.
  • If indoors-outdoors we recommend extra vaccinations for FelV/FIV diseases.

Kittens require additional vaccinations, usually 3 courses, due to an immature immune system. As adults they can get once a year boosters.

6. How do I know if my cat has arthritis?

  • Decreased activity: Arthritic cats may become less active and show reluctance to engage in their usual play or exercise
  • Changes in jumping: Cats with arthritis may have difficulty jumping onto higher surfaces or may avoid jumping altogether.
  • Reduced grooming: Arthritic cats may have difficulty reaching certain areas of their body, leading to a decrease in grooming behaviors.
  • Lameness You may notice your cat limping or showing signs of discomfort while walking or running
  • Stiffness or difficulty in movement: Arthritic cats may exhibit stiffness, particularly after rest or in the morning, and may have trouble getting up or down stairs.
  • Altered posture: Cats with arthritis may adopt unusual or hunched postures to relieve pain or avoid putting pressure on affected joints.
  • Loss of appetite: Some arthritic cats may experience a decreased appetite due to pain and discomfort.
  • Irritability or aggression: Cats in pain may exhibit changes in behavior, becoming more irritable, aggressive, or sensitive to touch.
  • Changes in litter box usage: Arthritic cats may have difficulty getting into and out of the litter box, leading to accidents or changes in their toileting habits.
  • Vocalization: Cats in pain may vocalize more frequently, meow differently, or yowl when attempting certain movements.

7. Why is my cat vomiting?
It can be ‘normal’ every now and then for a single vomit due to the cat’s nature of grooming. If vomiting becomes greater than once every two weeks then we can examine further.
Causes of vomiting can be broken down into primary and secondary Gastrointestinal (GI) issues

Primary GI issues refer to abnormal function of the GI tract itself.

  • Most commonly food reaction or dietary indiscretion, when something ingested causes a reaction of the small/large intestine resulting in diarrhoea.
  • Hairballs can causes recurrent vomiting
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is when the intestines have chronic inflammation and cannot digest and process foods correctly.
  • Stress can trigger diarrhoea episodes
  • Foreign Body: blockages of the bowels from a indigestible object, often strings in cats.
  • Parasitic, bacterial and viral infections of the bowels
  • Neoplasia of the bowel, although quite rare a dog may present with signs of diarrhoea/straining due to masses of the colon/rectum

Secondary GI issues refer to problems outside the GI tract itself causing a knock-on diarrhoea

  • Issues with the liver, kidney, pancreas, adrenal glands can present itself as diarrhoea

G.I. sensitivities are very common in cats and we often need a vet-recommended food to help alleviate the signs of vomiting +/- diarrhoea.

8. Should my cat go outdoors?

Outdoor life may allow your cat to enjoy natural behaviours such as hunting and socialising however it comes with substantial risks such as:

  • Road traffic accidents
  • Falls and injuries from general outdoor exploration
  • Fighting injuries from other cats
  • Infectious disease exposure

The average lifespan of outdoor cats is greatly reduced versus indoors only.

Ideally keep your cat indoors with outdoor time under safe restriction such as catios, harness-walks and cat-strollers.

9. Does my cat need a blood test?

Routine blood testing allows assessment of overall health beyond the clinical exam. This helps in detecting any underlying health issues at an early stage, enabling timely intervention and treatment. Routine blood testing is important for older dogs, as it helps identify age-related conditions such as Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), diabetes or thyroid problem. Besides routine testing, if your dog is sick blood testing is vital to get a better picture of potential pathologies.

10. What signs should I watch for in my older cat?

  • Osteoarthritis: Watch out for lameness, stiffness, decreased appetite, decreased play, licking joints or snapping when petted/lifted.
  • Poor grooming: Older cats often are not flexible enough to groom and hair-matting can develop, more grooming may be required
  • Litter Tray issues: with stiffness some cats may struggle to use their litter tray normally and toileting behaviours may change. A lower lipped tray may be required at floor level, the same going for food and water bowls.
  • Muscle wastage due to lack of use. Also severe muscle wastage can be a sign of more serious underlying disease.
  • Hearing + vision: older cats commonly develop deafness, less commonly blindness
  • Dental disease: Older pets will often develop poor dental health which can often go unnoticed as we focus on other concerns.
  • Lump+bumps: These are often benign age-related lesions but it’s always worth getting them checked out.
  • Excessive thirst: This can be a sign of underlying systemic disease – Inappetence, vomiting, diarrhoea: These can be signs of more serious underlying disease.
  • Vomiting/Diarrhoea/Inappetence: Older cats that show these signs can have underlying systemic disease such as kidney failure, diabetes or thyroid issues.