Basic Cat Health
Cats require an annual core vaccination called an F3 vaccination. This is protective against three important feline diseases. Kittens require an initial vaccination at 8 weeks, another at 12 weeks and a final booster at 16 weeks of age. However, this vaccination schedule may depend on the age and vaccination history of the cat. An F3 booster every 12 months is recommended.
Another feline vaccination that may be recommended for your cat is the FIV vaccination which is a non-core vaccination protective against feline AIDS. Outdoor cats are at a much higher risk for this disease due to the transmission of the virus primarily through cat fights. Therefore, the choice of using this vaccination is more dependent on the lifestyle of the cat.
Cats are prone to fleas. Fleas can cause a lot of long term problems so it is important to treat them early. The most effective control products are ‘spot-on’ treatments such as: 'Revolution', 'Advantage' or 'Frontline', although there are other valid options on the market which your vet will have available.
Remember to worm your adult cat every three months using either paste or tablets. Kittens may require more frequent worming. Speak to your veterinarian about some of the 'spot on' products that cover worms and fleas in one.
Like dogs, cats are also susceptible to heartworm. Please obtain advice on prevention from your veterinarian regarding heartworm prevention products.
Your cat will need a visit to visit your local veterinarian every 12 months for a thorough health check. If you have a senior cat, your vet may recommend 6 monthly check-ups.
Although come cats are rarely seen drinking water, they do need constant access to fresh water. Most cats are lactose intolerant and therefore cow's milk is not recommended due to the high risk of diarrhea.
Your cat's general health depends on them receiving a nutritionally balanced diet. Feeding twice a day with good quality dry and canned commercial cat food will achieve this. Overweight cats are not healthy cats, and, a sensible diet and exercise will help address this potential problem.
Basic meat hygiene considerations are important to keep in mind. Only offer large pieces of fresh meat that are fit for human consumption. It is best practice to first freeze the meat, and then defrost it just prior to feeding. This is so that infectious organisms that may be within the meat (such as Toxoplasma) are killed. Offer the meat in an area of the house that is easy to disinfect and separate from children and other animals. Do not feed raw meat to kittens or cats with gastrointestinal upsets (for example: diarrhoea or vomiting). Additional care must be taken with any cats that are immunocompromised. See your veterinarian for further advice if you are unsure.
Clean, healthy teeth are an important part of feline health. Home dental hygiene is an integral part of dental care. There are some commercial dry foods that are certified to reduce dental plaque that owners may choose. Another choice may be providing high quality raw meat to chew on. Chewing large chunks of meat can help with dental health, as well as being a great source of enjoyment for cats. However, important guidelines regarding raw meat must be followed (see footnote).
Frequent (daily) grooming of long haired cats is essential. Failure to do so will result in discomfort, pain and possible health problems for your cat. If you do not have the time and commitment for this do not get a long-haired breed.
Your cat's health may be seriously jeopardised by allowing it to wander at night. There is a high probability of death or serious injury if it is hit by a car or gets involved in a fight with other animals. These are quite common occurrences.
Indoor cats must have access to large, clean litter trays containing clean cat litter at all times. A good general rule of thumb for the required number of litter trays in a household is a litter tray per cat + 1. Therefore, a minimum of two litter trays, in two different areas of the house, for one cat is required. Cats are relatively easy to house train because they are inherently clean animals. Trays must be cleaned daily as cat faeces can be hazardous to human health, especially if you are pregnant or have particular health issues.
From time-to-time you will need to transport your cat in a cat carrier, therefore it is important to get your cat acclimatised to its cat carrier early on. This is especially important in decreasing the stress involved in vet visits, for both you and your cat! Investing in a quality cat carrier that is secure but may be disassembled if necessary, is ideal for keeping your pet safely inside the carrier when needed, but also useful for allowing more shy animals to be examined with minimal stress. Leaving the cat carrier out around the house, with treats, toys and a bed available within, will also help your cat to associate the carrier with positive experiences. For particularly cat-carrier nervous animals, the use of Feliway® pheromone spray on the carrier before placing them in there may help to ease their worries.