Keeping Your Cat Healthy

LIKE HUMANS, CATS ARE AT RISK FOR MANY DISEASES

Preventive healthcare, including a vaccination program and regular parasite prevention, will help protect your cat from disease and discomfort. In addition, proper nutrition, regular exercise and annual visits to the veterinarian will help maintain good health for your pet.

ANNUAL PHYSICAL EXAM

An annual physical examination is the best way to ensure continued good health for your cat.  It provides your veterinarian with an important opportunity to detect and prevent potential health problems. During the annual physical exam, your veterinarian will assess the overall health of your cat.  This evaluation may include laboratory testing and other diagnostic workups.  Your veterinarian will speak with you about preventive healthcare measures for your cat, such as vaccinations, parasite control, proper nutrition and dental care.

DISEASE DIAGNOSIS

Your veterinarian will examine your pet both visually and manually to assess its health and physical condition. Additional diagnostics, including blood, stool and urine samples and a skin examination may be necessary to determine whether disease is present or to differentiate between diseases.

POTENTIAL THREATS TO YOUR PET’S HEALTH

INFECTIOUS DISEASES

Rabies is a fatal viral disease that can infect all warm-blooded animals, including cats and humans.  A common early sign of rabies is a significant change in a cat’s behaviour, including sudden restlessness, aggression or fear.

For more information on the threat of rabies, contact the nearest office of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency or talk to your veterinarian.

Feline panleukopenia, sometimes referred to as parvovirus, is caused by a highly contagious and potentially fatal virus. It is especially dangerous to kittens. Typical clinical signs are high fever, vomiting and diarrhea.

Feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR), or feline herpesvirus, is one of the causes of chronic upper respiratory disease in cats. The signs of this disease include sneezing, runny nose, irritated eyes and coughing.

Feline calicivirus causes chronic disease of the upper respiratory system. The severity of infection with this virus depends on several factors, including the presence of other viruses (such as FVR) and bacteria.

Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is the most commonly diagnosed feline cancer and is the cause of about one-third of all cancer deaths among cats. In addition, the virus suppresses the cat’s immune system, leaving it susceptible to other infections. Ask your veterinarian if your cat should be vaccinated against FeLV.

Chlamydophila felis is a bacteria responsible for chronic mild upper respiratory disease (pneumonitis). It can also exacerbate other diseases caused by viruses. Runny eyes are the primary symptom of this bacterial infection; other signs include sneezing and nasal discharge.

INTERNAL PARASITES

Heartworms are transmitted by infected mosquitoes and may cause serious disease in your cat. Heartworms reside in the hearts and lungs of infected cats and eventually may lead to heart  failure and death. Unfortunately, there is no approved treatment for feline heartworm disease.

Hookworms are gastrointestinal parasites that may be transmitted when cats ingest infective larvae from the environment, or when larvae penetrate a cat’s skin directly.  Hookworms feed on the tissue inside the intestines of an infected cat. Certain infections in young kittens may be fatal.

Roundworms are gastrointestinal parasites which can be transmitted to kittens by the queen’s milk, and then throughout life by eggs present in the environment or by the ingestion of rodents or birds. The worms feed on the food present in the cat’s intestines. Some cats present clinical signs associated with the resulting nutritional deficit, such as poor general condition, dull haircoat or abnormal stools. Furthermore, these worms can be transmitted to humans.

Tapeworms are gastrointestinal parasites transmitted by fleas or through the ingestion of infected rodents or other small prey animals. The adult worm consists of a very long chain of segments attached to one another and lives in the cat’s intestine. The last segments, which contain the eggs, detach themselves from the tapeworm’s body and can be seen in the animal’s stools or around its anus. They look like grains of cooked rice and can show contraction movements when they have been passed recently.

EXTERNAL PARASITES

Fleas pose a real threat to the health of your pet and the well-being of your family. Adult fleas feed on warm-blooded animals and may cause severe irritation, allergic reactions and anemia. They can also transmit disease.

Ticks may attach to your cat and feed on blood until they are engorged. Some tick-borne diseases can affect people as well as pets.

Q & A

Q WHY ARE VACCINES IMPORTANT FOR MY CATS?

A Vaccination is the best way to help fortify your cat’s immune system in the fight against disease. Vaccines prepare the body for the organisms it will encounter, and help the immune system develop its own defense against them – many of which can be deadly.

Infectious diseases are caused when these organisms enter your pet’s body, multiply and cause severe damage to the organs and/or tissues. Even in animals with normal immune function, infection can progress faster than the immune system can fight it.

In a young cat, a series of vaccinations is given early in life to help develop the immune system against disease. Mature cats require re-vaccination to boost their immune system.

Your veterinarian will assess your cat’s risk factors and recommend a vaccination program.

Q HOW WILL MY CAT FEEL AFTER VACCINATION?

A How a cat reacts to vaccination depends on a lot of factors, such as the cat’s age, the type of vaccine used, and the cat’s overall health before being vaccinated. In all likelihood your cat will feel fine.  He or she may show mild signs, such as tiredness, slight fever or lack of appetite, for a short time before returning to normal. If signs persist beyond 24 hours, however, consult your veterinarian.

Q WHY DO KITTENS REQUIRE MULTIPLE VACCINATIONS?

A A nursing kitten receives antibodies from its mother to protect it from disease early in life, and these same antibodies can also keep a vaccine from being effective. However, maternal antibodies gradually decrease as the kitten gets older. When a series of vaccinations are given over a period of time, later doses will stimulate the kitten to produce its own antibodies, even if earlier doses are not effective.

Q DO I NEED TO WORRY ABOUT FLEAS ON MY CAT?

A Although cats are fastidious groomers and you may not see fleas on your cat, they can still feed on its blood, and may transmit dangerous diseases.  Ask your veterinarian to recommend a product that will help keep your cat flea-free.

EARLY DIAGNOSIS OF DISEASE WILL HELP YOUR CAT REMAIN HEALTHIER FOR A LONGER TIME.

ASK YOUR VETERINARIAN FOR ADVICE IF YOU NOTICE ANY OF THE FOLLOWING SIGNS IN YOUR CAT:

DISEASE PREVENTION

Your cat may be exposed to many diseases during its lifetime. Some of these diseases may be caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites. Many are preventable, while some others can be treated or controlled. Routine examinations, vaccination and regular use of preventive medicine and flea and tick control will help keep your cat healthy and free of disease.

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