Annual Comprehensive Physical Examination:
A comprehensive annual physical examination is the basis for your cat’s health. Senior cats (over 10 yrs of age) will greatly benefit from twice yearly (semi-annual) health check-ups. Since our cats age so much more rapidly than we do, health problems may arise in seemingly short periods of time. By 6 months of age, your kitten is the equivalent of a 3 year old child and by 8 years of age, your cat is the equivalent of a 50-60 year old person! You have probably heard it said that diseases in people such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease may be SILENT KILLERS. This is because often times there are NO obvious clinical signs until severe illness develops. Likewise, cats have many “silent killer” diseases that afflict them. Many people believe that indoor cats are not susceptible to disease. Infectious diseases certainly are less likely to afflict indoor cats, but they have NO immunity to silent killers like heart, kidney, and dental disease. EARLY DETECTION through a comprehensive annual examination is the key to your cat’s well being.
Feline Leukemia & Feline Immunodeficiency Virus Test:
Feline leukemia (FELV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV or Feline AIDS) are two of the most important infectious diseases affecting cats today. Both are incurable and both may be fatal. It is extremely important to blood test your cat to make sure that your cat is not a carrier of one or both of these diseases. Kittens may be born with these diseases or may acquire them shortly after birth if the mother cat is affected. Cats may harbor these diseases hidden in their bone marrow for years before ever becoming sick. Always test a new cat BEFORE introducing it to a resident cat in your household!
Kittens should begin their vaccination (immunization) series at 6-8 weeks of age. Additional booster vaccines are given every 3-4 weeks until they are at least 16 weeks of age. Adult cats that have no prior history of vaccination need to be given an initial vaccine followed by booster vaccinations 3-4 weeks later.
“Core” vaccinations are those vaccinations that are currently recommended for ALL CATS. These include feline viral (RCP) rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, panleukopenia, and rabies. Other vaccinations, like the feline leukemia virus vaccination, are currently recommended for all kittens, and then recommended to be continued for adult cats based on their lifestyle.
FYI: A poorly understood problem in cats is a vaccine induced growth called a fibrosarcoma. While the incidence of this problem is low, studies have shown that the risks of developing a vaccination associated fibrosarcoma are most often correlated to the 3 yr Rabies vaccination and the feline leukemia vaccination. As a result of this, we use a line of vaccinations specially formulated for cats in an attempt to limit the precursors that may cause the formation of fibrosarcoma. Because of the special formulation of these vaccines- the Rabies vaccination is only approved to guarantee immunity for 1 year. We also limit our recommendations for vaccinating against feline leukemia to those cats that are outdoors for any time period, or being housed in the same environment that houses other cats that may be (or have been) exposed to the virus.
Intestinal parasite control:
The center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that ALL kittens be routinely dewormed for roundworms at least 2-3 times whether or not eggs for this parasite are found in the stool. This parasite commonly infects kittens prior to birth by migrating across the placenta of the mother cat. Not only are these parasites dangerous to the health of your kitten, but the immature worm is capable of infecting people (primarily children) as well. It is for this reason that the CDC makes the recommendation to deworm. Annual fecal exams are necessary to check for a variety of other intestinal parasites that may affect your cat. If you are not able to provide stool sample at the annual exam time, we recommend prophylactic deworming your cat.
The mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body. A healthy, clean mouth helps to insure a healthy body. Tarter and plaque on teeth harbor a wide variety of bacteria that may cause infections elsewhere in the body such as in the heart, liver, or kidneys. The practice of home dental care should be started with your kitten to get him/her used to having its teeth cleaned at an early age. Brushing is the most effective method of home dental care, but if this is not possible, other options may be beneficial such as the feeding of a specially formulated diet or offering treats impregnated with an enzyme that helps remove plaque. Regular dental exams along with professional dental cleanings are an important part of your cat’s good oral hygiene.
Flea and Tick control:
These parasites are capable of causing extreme skin irritation to you and your cat as well as potentially transmitting dangerous diseases. The bite of an infected flea is capable of transmitting blood parasites, and the ingestion of a flea can cause tapeworms. Not all over-the-counter topical products are safe for cats. Please let us advise you on what type of product may be safe and effective for your cat.
Studies now show that cats may become infected with heartworms. Heartworms are transmitted by the bite of a mosquito. Although the incidence of heartworms in cats is much lower than dogs, the result of heartworm infection may be sudden death. At this time, diagnosis and treatment of feline heartworms is much more difficult in cats than in dogs. For this reason, if you have a cat that is “at risk” (ie. outdoors, etc) then placing your cat on a heartworm preventative is the best course of action.
Spaying and Neutering:
Cats may be spayed or neutered at any age, but the preferable age is approximately 6-12 months of age. It is of no health benefit to allow your cat to go through a heat cycle or to breed once prior to being spayed or neutered. Spay and neutering prevents annoying sexual behavior, prevents certain cancers and infections, and generally leads to a happier, healthier cat.