Cats

Here is a quick guide on cats and how to look after them. If you have any concerns about the health of your cat, please call us.

We can advise you on what, how much and when best to feed your cat to keep them fit and healthy. Petcare Brackenbury has a range of nutritious specially formulated food. Many cats have very individual needs. Being overweight increases the risk of other health conditions developing such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and breathing problems. Call Brackenbury Vets to make an appointment and we’ll be happy to see you to carry out a health check.

What causes cats to gain weight? Weight gain is the result of an increase in body fat. Eating too much usually causes this, especially when combined with lack of exercise. But there can be other contributing factors such as:

> age: older pets are usually less active so require fewer calories
> breed: some breeds are more prone to weight gain.
> medical problems: occasionally weight gain is associated with a medical disorder that may require specific treatment.

How can I tell if my cat is overweight?

> the ribs cannot be easily felt when running your hands along the side of their body
> you need to loosen their collar if they wear one
> heavier breathing pattern

How can I help my cat to lose weight? Weight problems are very common and these can be successfully managed through changes in diet and lifestyle. Cats need exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle. Encourage your cat to follow you in the house, particularly up and down stairs. Use toys to encourage your cat to play or hide food to mimic him or her hunting. Shining a torch with a sharp beam on walls for your cat to chase works very well.

Vaccination keeps your pet safe from common diseases. After an initial vaccination course, your cat may only need an annual booster for continued protection. Keeping up to date with vaccinations is very important as immunity is reduced once the date for the repeat vaccination is passed.

Brackenbury Vets will tailor a programme specifically for the needs of your cat, call for an appointment for us to do this. Ask us about the Brackenbury Vets Pet Health Club to help you save money and spread the cost.

Cat vaccinations protect against these diseases:

  • Feline Panleucopenia
  • Feline Calicivirus
  • Feline Rhinotracheitis virus
  • Feline Chlamydia
  • Feline Leukemia virus
Watch for sneezing, itching and scratching. Allergies are not always just seasonal and are one of the top reasons for visits to vets. Environmental allergens such as pollen, mould, and house dust mites are frequent causes of allergy. Food allergy is also quite common.

Call Brackenbury Vets for an appointment for a health check for your cat.

Regular grooming provides an opportunity to look closely at your cat, to check the condition of their skin, fur, claws, ears and teeth. It is also essential for many breeds. Grooming also gives you an opportunity to check for parasites such as worms and fleas. For longhaired cats whose coats have become unmanageable or matted, Brackenbury Vets can groom cats under sedation if required.
The signs of dental disease can be subtle so many pet owners fail to notice their cat’s discomfort until they become subdued and are unable to eat.

Watch for signs of difficulty in chewing, or in eating hard food. Bad breath is not normal in pets, and the number one reason is dental disease. Pets don’t tend to get dental cavities, they suffer mainly from periodontal disease, plaque and calculus. The bacteria associated with dental disease can also cause other serious health problems as they can gain entrance to the blood system and travel to other organs, most notably the liver, kidney and heart valves.

Regular checks at Brackenbury Vets can help monitor this. Diet plays an important factor in keeping teeth and gums healthy. Animals fed on mainly soft, moist, processed food are most at risk. Signs of dental disease in your pet can include:

  • Bad breath
  • Bleeding and inflamed gums
  • Build-up of yellow or brown tartar on the teeth
  • Difficulty chewing food
  • Loss of interest in food
  • Pawing at the mouth or drooling
  • Tooth loss
  • Subdued behaviour
  • Not wanting to be touched on the head
Symptoms of ear problems in cats can be shaking the head and scratching at the ears. There can be an odour and a discharge from the ear, or redness of the ear flap or entrance to the ear canal. Your cat may have ear mites. Some bacterial infections can perforate the eardrum so seek help straight away.

It is best not to try and clean your pet’s ears other than around the entrance to the ear. If a foreign body has made its way into the ear canal do not try to get it out yourself as this may cause damage and push it further in.

Call Brackenbury Vets for an appointment to have your pet’s ears checked.

Regular outdoor exploring will help keep your cat’s claws short. Indoor cats should have scratching posts. Some cats may need their claws trimmed. Trimming black coloured claws yourself with nail trimmers can be tricky as the ‘quick’ (nerve and blood vessel) cannot be seen. If this is accidentally cut, the nail will bleed.

Book an appointment at Brackenbury Vets for our Veterinary Nurse to help you with this.

Spaying and neutering of cats prevents unwanted kittens. Neutering male cats also avoids the distinctive ‘tom cat’ smell and reduces the risk of spraying of urine to mark territory. We recommend spaying and neutering your cat at five to six months of age.

Call Brackenbury Vets so we can advise you on spaying or neutering.

The needs of cats change throughout their life. Beginning at seven years of age, cats enter their senior years. At this age it is possible for diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney and thyroid problems to develop and early detection is vital.

Call Brackenbury Vets to book an appointment for a senior pet health check.

Summer –  Make sure fresh drinking water is always available. Of course don’t leave your cat locked in a car or a conservatory on warm days. The temperature inside a car can rise very quickly to dangerous levels, even on milder days. Bring your cat to Brackenbury Vets urgently.

Winter – This is the time when many of us start to feel aches and pains and our pets are the same. Look out for any difficulties getting up after rest, these are signs that your cat may have some joint stiffness, often made worse by cold or damp weather. Cats need to be able to keep dry and conserve body heat outside in the cold and wet and will need shelter and drinking water. Watch out for antifreeze (as used in cars) as some people use it in their garden ponds. It is very tasty but very poisonous to animals.

Be careful around the home. Keep potentially dangerous objects like pins, needles and string away from curious cats. Keep poisonous products and materials locked away. Many poisonous materials are used around the home every day – weed killers, slug pellets, rat poison, lawn sprays, fertilisers, paints, household cleaners.

Call Brackenbury Vets immediately if your cat needs medical attention.