Cat Home Health Care

"Cat home health care has several basic steps including vaccination, grooming, dental care, parasite control and maintaining a safe environment."

There are seven basic steps for taking care of your cat:

1. Veterinary Care such as vaccinations
2. Protecting your cat from parasites such as fleas
3. Care for cat gums and teeth
4. Diet
5. Grooming
6. Providing a safe environment

Cat Veterinary Care

The frequency of visits to a veterinarian needed depends on the age of your cat:

Kittens: Every 3 to 4 weeks until your kitten is 4 months old.

Adults up to age 8: 1x per year

Adults 8 years+: 1x or more per year depending on the needs of your cat.

Signs of an illness such as changes in normal behavior should cause you to seek veterinary care. Typical signs of illness include:

- lethargy or acting tired
- diarrhea
- vomiting
- coughing
- sneezing
- discharge from the eyes, ears or nose
- hair loss
- itchy skin
- changes in the way your cat moves

Cat Vaccination Schedule

When a kitten is born it inherits antibodies from its mother to attack disease. These same antibodies also keep vaccines to take hold. As the kitten ages the mothers antibodies are replaced by those of the kitten. The reason for more than one round of vaccination early in life is to ensure that the vaccine takes hold. In general, most vaccines require two rounds between ages 10 and 14 weeks, a 1 year booster and then boosters every 3 years unless noted below.

Core Feline Vaccines:

Feline Distemper (also known as panleukopenia and is caused by Feline Parvovirus (FPV) : The first vaccine is given after 10 weeks of age and then again at 14 weeks. The reason is that cats are born with its mothers antibodies that may keep a vaccination from taking hold. The second shot ensures that it does. This vaccine provides complete protection against distemper.

Your cat will need a booster every 3 years.

Feline Herpes Virus Type I (also known as feline viral rhinotracheiti (FHV-1) and Feline Calicivirus (FCV0: Usually combined in the same shot and follows the same schedule as feline distemper. Up to 90% of feline upper respiratory infections are caused by these two viruses. The vaccine does not provide complete protection, but does lessen the severity of the illness.

Rabies: Rabies is more common in cats than dogs. and happens when another animal bites your cat.

There had been some concern of a sarcoma or cancer at the site of injection. Ask you veterinarian if the vaccine your cat is receiving has adjuvants which have been associated with the problem (an adjuvant is another substance that helps a vaccine take hold). An alternative vaccine is available called PureVax Feline Rabies Vaccine from Merial.

Many States require rabies vaccination.

Non-core Vaccines:

Feline leukemia virus (FeLV): Cats are susceptible to this disease up to age 16 weeks. After that their immune system should protect against the disease.

If you cat spends a significant amount of time outdoors then vaccination is usually recommended or if your cat is under 16 weeks.

Chlamydiosis: This disease affects the eyes and respiratory tract. Vaccines for this illness are not necessary since there are treatment options if your cat comes down with the diesae.

Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP): This vaccine has mixed evidence of effectiveness and is usually not recommended.

Dermatophytosis: This disease is a fungal skin infection (Microsporum canis). Vaccines have not been shown to be effective.

Bordetella bronchiseptica infection: This vaccine for a respiratory infection is administered if your veterinarian believes your cat is at risk for this disease. The vaccine tends to reduce the severity of symptoms vs. eliminate the illness.

Giardiasis: This vaccine for gastrointestinal problems (digestive tract problems) is only given to cats that are susceptible to the disease. It is given to cats that order older than 8 weeks.

Cat Home Health Care - Prevent Parasites

Parasite control is an important part of cat home health care. Cats are susceptible to several parasites including:

* Roundworms - from contact with feces
* Hookworms - from contact with feces
* Tapeworms - from contact with feces
* Heartworms (from mosquitoe bites)
* Mites (ear,mange) and Fleas - from the environment or other animals

Cats get parasites from:

* Their mother while in the womb
* Eggs that are in feces
* Other animals or hosts

These condition can be diagnosed by your veterinarian who will examine stool (feces) samples looking for eggs.

Cat Home Health Care - Cat Care for Teeth and Gums

Care of your cat's teeth is similar to the care of human teeth requiring brushing and cleaning to avoid plaque buildup.

Cat Home Health Care - Grooming

As we all know, cats are constantly grooming itself. Long haired cats require brushing to remove loose hair. Short hair cats can usually care for themselves unless they are ill.

Ear cleaning is also essential for cats and should be part of routine veterinary care or after getting a lesson from your vet.

Cats do not need baths like dogs do. See our guide on cat hair care.

Cat Home Health Care - Poisoning

Just like children, cats should not be able to access any household cleaning or poisonous products. Also avoid keeping any human medications on counter tops. If you cat is outside avoid any area where there might be antifreeze on the ground.

There are also many varieties of plants that are poisonous to cats. This list includes:

Autumn Crocus
Castor Bean
English Ivy
Peace Lily
Sago Palm
Tulip/Narcissus bulbs

If you suspect poisoning immediately call your veterinarian or call the ASPCA poison control center at (888) 426-4435. There is a $60 fee for this service.

Cat Spaying

At age 6 or 7 all male cats should be neutered if they are not going to be breeding. Females of the same age should be spayed and helps avoid uterine cancer and certain infections.

Sources for Cat Home Health Care

Feline Vaccination Protocols
Richard B. Ford, DVM, MS, Dipl ACVIM
Professor of Medicine
North Carolina State University

Infectious Disease Prevention Change is in the Wind
Richard B. Ford
Professor of Medicine, NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine

For The Love of Cats - For more general information on cat home care. Comprehensive cat website, concentrating on cat behavior, Cat Whispering, working with cats, training, taming feral cats and raising kittens.Gifts for cat lovers and supplies for cats. Lotsof pictures.


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