Despite their apparent self-sufficiency, cats are actually very dependent on their owners for good health care. Choosing a vet who is experienced in dealing with feline disorders and behaviour is essential but there are also many things you can do to ensure that your cat remains in optimum health.
The first step to good health – it is vital for kittens to have vaccinations, starting from about 8 weeks. If they have not had their vaccinations yet, make a stop at the vet on the way back from the breeders or pet shop for a first examination and first shots. These should protect them against the serious feline diseases – such as feline panleukopenia (distemper), viral rhinotracheitis/calicivirus and feline leukaemia – many of which can be fatal. Many vaccinations will then need a yearly booster thereafter – discuss this with your vet.
Worming your cat regularly is important, particularly in young animals where a severe case of worms can cause anaemia and serious illness. There is also the human health aspect to consider, especially if children are involved. As with all things, prevention is better than cure and so it is advisable to follow a good worming plan throughout your pet’s life, rather than wait until they become infested. In general, kittens are wormed every 3 weeks until they are 6 months of age and thereafter, every 3 months for the rest of their lives. Again, your vet can advise as to the best worming products and methods.
Fleas can cause terrible discomfort to your cat – aside from the itching, they can cause anaemia and even a severe allergic skin reaction. They also carry the risk of tape-worm infection, which is dangerous to humans. Different products vary greatly in their effectiveness – most vets now recommend a “spot-on” treatment (squeezed from a vial onto the pet’s skin, between the shoulder blades) as the best and safest way to control fleas, for 4 – 8 weeks after each application. There are also other products such as flea powders and shampoos or collars but these tend to have limited effectiveness.
Getting into a regular grooming routine will help keep your cat in good health. Not only will it help you bond with your pet but it also gives you a chance to examine her all over and check for any signs of external parasites or injury (e.g., abscess). Regular brushing stimulates the coat and removes dead hairs – particularly if you have a long-haired cat, where hairballs can be the bane of their life, a weekly brush out is necessary. Trimming claws might be necessary if your cat does not spend a lot of time outdoors or does not use a scratching post regularly.
Things To Watch Out For
* sneezing can be a symptom of another disease so always check with your vet.