Cat Health Care & Vaccinations
Cat Health and Vaccinations
Register your cat with a vet
When you get a new cat or a new kitten you should register with a vet as soon as possible for a health check and to arrange vaccinations.
When should I vaccinate my kitten?
When your kitten is about 8 weeks old you should have them vaccinated by your vet. They have two sets of vaccinations; the second one is 3 weeks after the first. Immunity is effective 7-10 days after the second vaccination so they should be kept inside until then. Boosters are given twelve months after the starter course and your vet will tell you when they are next due.
When should I vaccinate my cat?
If you have an adult cat who hasn't had any vaccinations or whose boosters have been forgotten she can be given an "adult starterâ€ to bring her protection up to scratch. This comprises of two injections, given 3 weeks apart.
Why do I need a vaccination certificate?
Once your cat or kitten has had their vaccinations your vet will give you a Vaccination Certificate which will have your pet's details on it, the dates the vaccine was given and when the booster is due. This certificate is important if you are putting your cat into a cattery or travelling overseas as they will need to see it.
Which diseases are covered by vaccination?
- Cat flu (including Calicivirus and Herpesvirus) – causes severe flu-like symptoms: nasal discharge, sneezing, coughing, mouth and eye ulcers, lethargy and anorexia. Often fatal in kittens, senior cats and cats with underlying medical issues.
- Feline Infectious Enteritis (FIE) – also known as Feline Parvovirus. Highly infectious and often fatal, especially in kittens. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, anorexia and dehydration.
- Feline Leukaemia (FeLV) – destroys the cat's immune system, causes cancers to form, anaemia and neurological problems. FeLV is normally fatal. Vaccination for FeLV is not routinely given, so make sure to tell your vet that you would like it for your cat.
- Feline Chlamydia – a bacterial infection with symptoms of weepy eyes and nasal discharge.
- Rabies – Vaccines are given if you are taking your pet abroad under the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS).
You can tell if your cat is feeling under the weather by her behaviour. If you notice that she is not eating or drinking, or is hungrier or thirstier than usual or is not going to the toilet normally or at all, this could be a sign of illness.
Ears. Always check your cat's ears regularly. They should be clean and have no discharge or crusty wax. Their ears shouldn't be red and sore or have a nasty smell. Never use cotton buds to clean your cat's ears as their ears are very delicate. If your cat is prone to ear trouble you can clean her ears with ear cleaning solution or ear wipes.
If your cat starts to scratch her ears constantly or is always shaking her head, you should take her to your vet for a thorough ear examination.
Eyes. Your cat's eyes should be bright and clear, with no signs of runniness, redness or soreness. If your cat has discharge secreting from their eyes it could be a sign of infection or disease so it is best to consult your vet. Some breeds such as Persians are prone to discharge in the corners of their eyes and you can clean them with eye lotion or wipes.
Nose. Your cat's nose should not be dry, crusty, or runny so check with your vet if your cat has these symptoms.
Mouth and Teeth. Bad breath can be a sign of bacteria or plaque on the teeth and gums, which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Your cat's teeth shouldn't have any tartar coating them and her gums shouldn't be red, swollen or bleeding. You can spot the signs of mouth problems if your cat is picking up and dropping her food, doesn't want to eat, is dribbling a lot or clawing at her mouth.
You can brush your cat's teeth with toothpastes made especially for cats and give her dental care food and treats to keep her teeth and gums in good condition. Never use human toothpaste on your cat as this can irritate her stomach or even give her an allergic reaction. There are feline toothpastes, toothbrushes and finger brushes available to clean your cat's teeth. Dry food is recommended to help keep tartar build up to a minimum.
If your cat is drooling it can be a sign of a mouth ulcer, nausea (travel sickness) or, more seriously, poisoning. If you see these symptoms in your cat take her to the vet promptly for a diagnosis.
Digestion. If you are changing your cat's diet do it gradually over a course of 7-10 days to avoid any tummy upsets and to accustomise the enzymes and bacteria in her digestive tract to the new food. It's normal for your cat to eat grass occasionally but if your cat is vomiting constantly as well, or suddenly becomes very thirsty, you should take her to the vet for a checkup in case there is an underlying medical problem. Cats naturally cough up hairballs from time to time. This is normal, but you can buy dry foods containing ingredients to help your cat can digest the hairballs instead.
Skin & Coat. Your cat's skin should be free of crusting; itching, scaling, black spots and infected or inflamed areas. Her coat should have no bald patches, dandruff or fleas.
Hairballs. Hairballs are caused by your cat licking and cleaning herself and can occur in short haired breeds as well as long haired. The hair that is swallowed can cause blockages which result in vomiting or constipation. You can buy dry foods containing ingredients to help your cat digest the hairballs instead. If you are concerned it is best to check with your vet.
- Chocolate is toxic to cats so only feed your cat specially designed cat treats made from Carob (which has a similar taste but is 100% safe).
- Human Medication - Paracetamol etc. can be lethal to cats. Don't leave it where they might find it and if you suspect your cat may have eaten some contact a vet at once.
- Poinsettia or Christmas plants - Many people buy these red leafed plants around Christmas or receive them as gifts. Cats often like to taste house plants and these plants are toxic when eaten. So keep them in a place the cat cannot reach.
Fleas and Worms
How do I know my cat has fleas?
Fleas can be a problem at any time of year and if your cat is scratching a lot she probably has fleas. Fleas are hard to spot but you may see small black bits of dirt on her skin and in her coat which are their feaces. Some cats have an allergic reaction to flea bites and this can lead to skin disease.
How do I get rid of my cat's fleas
To get rid of fleas you have to treat your house as well as your cat to break the flea life cycle. Your cat should have regular treatments for fleas to prevent them reoccurring. There are several treatments for your cat - Flea Drops, Tablets, Spray and Powder. Only use cat flea products and not ones for other animals. Most flea products are not suitable for kittens so ask our qualified staff or your vet to recommend a treatment for them.
- Petstop is licensed to sell a full range of anti-parasitic treatments, which you would normally find at your veterinary clinic such as Frontline which provides an effective, long lasting treatment that can be trusted. Our qualified staff can dispense these treatments without consultation fees. These treatments are weight specific and protect your cat for 1 month, both killing and repelling fleas. They are much stronger than the standard off the shelf products and have faster acting active ingredients which mean that the fleas will be killed quicker and the chances of reinfestation are greatly reduced.
- To get rid of fleas from the house you should vacuum the whole house and treat your cat's bedding. You can use carpet flea guard to spray the floors and skirting boards. Repeat 10 days later. Fleas can be hosts to Tapeworm larvae so it is best to treat your cat for worms at the same time.
How do I know my cat has worms?
Not all worms are visible but you might see worms in your cat's feaces or around their anal area or tail. Tapeworms can resemble grains of rice and you might see them around your cat's rear or on bedding. You might also spot worms in your cat's vomit. Other possible signs of worms are a bloated belly, constant hunger and weight loss.
Worms can be a real problem and can even infect your cat's lungs. Roundworms are a threat to kittens and you can tell if your kitten has them as she will have a pot belly. Humans can pick them up from handing their cats so treat your cat at the first sign of worms. Roundworms can cause illness in small children so don't let your cat lick or eat from your own plate and always wash your hands after handling your kittens. Your cat can become infected with tapeworms if they swallow fleas or if she has eaten a dead mouse or bird in the garden.
How do I get rid of my cat's worms?
- Worms can easily be got rid by using tablets or drops and there are also pastes, syrups and creams available for kittens or if your cat will not swallow tablets.
- You should treat your adult cat every 3 months. Treat your kitten every 2 weeks from 3 - 12 weeks of age and then every 4 weeks from 12 weeks - 6 months.
- Petstop is licensed to sell a full range of anti-parasitic treatments, which you would normally find at your veterinary clinic such as Drontal which provides an effective, long lasting treatment for a large variety of worms. Our qualified staff can dispense these treatments without consultation fees. These treatments are weight specific and last for 3 months. They are much stronger than the standard off the shelf products and have faster acting active ingredients.
- If your pet is pregnant, lactating, unwell or on medication it is wise to ask your vet for advice before you worm them.
Both male and female cats should be neutered between 5-6 months of age. If you have just adopted an adult cat and you are unsure if its neutered you can still book them in with your vet to be checked and neutered if necessary.
It's a common procedure and your cat will usually be discharged from the vets within 24hours.They will need to be kept indoors for 7-10 days depending on the sex of your cat and may have to wear a collar to stop them pulling and licking their wound, they should have pain relief tablets for a day or two and will need to go back for a check up and possibly to have stitches removed at 10-14 days.
There are lots of reasons to get your cat neutered:
- Reduce unwanted kittens; thousands are put to sleep each year in the UK and Ireland.
- Reduces the spread of disease in cats. Neutered cats are less likely to fight with each other, a major route of transmission of feline aids (FIV) and feline Leukaemia (FeLV)
- Neutered cats live nearly twice as long, have fewer health problems and are less likely to be involved in road traffic accidents or go missing as they don't feel the urge to wander.