Cat Health Tips

Kitten Wellness

At this exciting and fun-filled time of your life, we want to welcome your new kitten to your family and ours. At Clarkson Village Animal Hospital, we constantly strive to provide the best care and service possible.

The first few months of your kitten’s life are important in determining his/her health status as an adult cat.

Recommendations and Visits for Your Kitten during His/Her First Year of Life
At Clarkson Village Animal Hospital, you will receive the following for your kitten during his or her first year:

At 2 Months

  • Kitten Care Package, including extensive information on kitten healthcare
  • Complimentary bag of premium kitten food
  • Comprehensive physical exam and weigh-in
  • Consultation regarding feeding, nutrition and litter box training
  • Nail trim demonstration, if required
  • Initial kitten vaccinations
  • Stool sample to check for intestinal parasites
  • Discussion of the benefits of dental home care
  • Information regarding the benefits of pet insurance

At 3 Months

  • Comprehensive physical exam and weigh-in
  • Booster kitten vaccinations
  • Assessment of growth and general body condition
  • Discussion of any health concerns or questions that you may have
  • Appropriate treatments for internal parasites, and discussion of the potential health risks of pet parasites to people, particularly children

At 4 Months

  • Comprehensive physical exam and weigh-in
  • Final booster with Rabies vaccination
  • Stool sample to check for intestinal parasites
  • Spay/neuter,  if necessary
  • Assessment of growth and general body condition
  • Discussion of any health or training concerns

At 6 Months

  • Baseline pre-operative blood screening highly recommended
  • Spay/neuter operation
  • Microchipping – permanent identification system – if desired
  • Discussion of Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD), risk factors, and proper nutrition to prevent this condition
  • Discussion of indoor vs. outdoor cat (i.e. potential risks vs. advantages)
  • Physical exam and assessment of growth and body condition
  • Discussion of any health concerns

At 8 Months

  • Nutrition: especially approaching 1 year of age – to do what you can to prevent urinary bladder issues
  • Spring: Safe and effective flea prevention – topical medication
  • Summer & Fall: Flea comb regularly, especially outdoor cats

1 Year & Annually

  • Comprehensive physical exam, consultation with the veterinarian, and weigh-in
  • Appropriate booster vaccines with rabies
  • Stool check for intestinal parasites
  • Diet/nutrition, training, and health discussion

Adult Cat Wellness

How Old Is My Cat Really?

Cats are considered to be mature adults at 12 months of age.

During their adult years (1 to 10 years for cats), we recommend an annual comprehensive physical examination, appropriate vaccination for infectious disease, and examination of a stool sample for intestinal parasites.

Why Is an Annual Physical Examination Important?

Cats have a relatively short adult life compared to humans since every year of their life represents 5 to 6 human years.

Obviously, dramatic changes in their health can occur over this time period. It’s important to bring your cat to see us at least annually, to ensure your pet lives the longest and healthiest life possible.

Cats hide their symptoms from us, and they can’t tell us when something is wrong. Bringing your cat in for an examination helps us find any hidden illnesses and treat them right away.

Does My Cat Need Any Preventive Tests?

Annual blood and urine tests may also be recommended at vaccination time.

This wellness screen will identify early kidney and liver problems, and evidence of infection or anemia before your pet has shown any outward signs.

If all test values are normal, these results will also serve as a helpful frame of reference for any future testing.

If a surgical procedure, such as a dental cleaning or mass removal, is determined to be necessary during the physical exam, these test values will serve as a pre-anesthetic screen prior to surgery. Anesthetics are metabolized by either the liver or kidneys and therefore it is extremely important that these organs are functioning normally in order to design an individualized anesthetic protocol.

Does My Cat Need Vaccinations?

The appropriate vaccination protocol for your pet will be discussed during your vaccination appointment.

Cats who spend time outdoors or associate with other animals will be at higher risk for some diseases. Additional vaccines may be recommended for these cats compared to their indoor counterparts.

Yearly vaccinations provide an ideal opportunity to identify and treat any problems that your adult cat may be experiencing before they become significant health concerns.

Early detection and treatment of a problem may allow your adult pet to enjoy many healthy, happy years as a senior member of your family.

Senior Cat Wellness

How Old Is My Senior Cat Really?

Cats are considered to be seniors around 11 to 13 years of age.

Our older cats age 5 to 6 years in human years for every year of their lives. Obviously, dramatic changes in their health can occur over this time period.

During their senior years, we recommend a physical examination at least once yearly, vaccination (if health permits), and examination of a stool sample.

Depending on your pet’s health status, semi-annual or annual blood and urine screening may be advised. Senior pets who develop specific problems may need to have blood and urine levels monitored as often as every few weeks or months.

What Conditions Are Common in Older Cats?

Obviously as they age, pets are prone to develop age-related conditions similar to humans.

Eyesight and hearing deteriorates. In some cases, deafness or blindness may be very sudden. Sudden onset blindness is very significant and may indicate hypertension, cataracts, glaucoma, or retinal deterioration.

Dental disease is also very common in senior animals, due to long-term tartar accumulation, gum inflammation, and recession of gum tissue. An infected mouth in an older cat often acts as a source of infection for other body organs and may cause premature deterioration of the kidneys or heart valves. Cats with dental disease may have bad breath and exhibit pain while eating or decreased appetite.

Joint pain due to osteoarthritis is another concern with older cats. Symptoms include: difficulty rising from a resting position, reluctance to exercise or climb stairs, limping, decreased appetite, or increased irritability. Evidence of arthritis can sometimes be found on examination as joints begin to “grind”, pain is observed, and muscles begin to deteriorate. Newer anti-inflammatories and pain control, as well as proven herbal supplements, can provide excellent relief from arthritis pain in cats.

A big weak spot for cats is their heart. About 50% of heart murmurs are from heart disease, but some heart disease shows no murmur, so it remains undetectable without an echocardiogram. This is the most common cause of sudden death with cats, with some breeds (Ragdolls) being particularly prone to heart disease.

Skin and coat problems are frequently benign, but many skin masses (growths) look alike. Growths require analysis to make sure they are not cancerous and likely to spread elsewhere in the body. You will likely see many skin and coat problems in older pets. Nutrients are not absorbed as well, increased skin oils and dander. Poor grooming in older cats may result in a poor coat with matting, dander, or oiliness. Diet changes, shampoo, and fatty acid supplements can dramatically improve the coat quality of older animals.

Abdominal palpation, performed by a veterinarian, can detect changes in older cats’ organ size. It also detects any abnormal masses or evidence of pain. Any of these signs would indicate the need for X-rays, ultrasound, or blood or urine tests.

Why Are Physical Exams Important for My Senior Cat?

During annual or semi-annual check-ups in older pets, weight gain or losses will be assessed and you will be asked questions regarding your pet’s appetite, lameness, changes in drinking, urinating, bathroom habits, general attitude, and energy levels.

Changes in any of these areas may indicate an early problem and by performing diagnostic tests we can improve the quality and length of life for your senior pet.

Is Your Older Cat Confused?

Cognitive dysfunction is very common for cats, as it is for ourselves. We have foods with supplements to help to slow down the brain ageing process, and that can keep cats more alert, help with their day/night cycle, etc.

Transporting Your Nervous Cat to the Vet

Download our pdf to learn more here.

Outdoor vs Indoor Cats

There is no question that cats who have access to the outdoors face increased health risks as opposed to their indoor counterparts. On average, the life expectancy of an outdoor cat is 11 years, versus 17 years for that of an indoor cat.

Outdoor Cats

Outdoor risks include traumas (accidents with cars, bite wounds/attacks from other cats or wildlife), infections (viral, bacterial, parasitic), poisonings, or going missing.

These risks can be minimized by:

  • Only allowing cats outdoors during daylight hours, as most cat fights occur at night.
  • Only allowing access to a fenced yard or supervising them while outdoors.
  • Encouraging your cat to come when called by offering a food treat.
  • Making sure your cat is spayed or neutered to decrease the likelihood of wandering, mating, and fighting with other cats
  • Maintaining regular vaccinations – these are of the utmost importance. Vaccinations help to provide protection against viral upper respiratory infections, which are extremely contagious in cats. They also protect against such fatal diseases as distemper, leukemia, and rabies.
  • Ensuring regular examinations of fecal samples for parasite eggs, and regular deworming of cats who hunt to prevent internal parasitic infections.
  • Preventing external parasites such as fleas with seasonal treatment (we can provide effective and easy-to-apply products).
  • Never keeping poisons of any kind on your property where outdoor cats may be exposed to them – mouse/rat poison, slug bait, herbicides, pesticides, car antifreeze, and so on. Some of these compounds actually have an attractive taste to cats, and just a small amount may lead to organ failure or death
  • Permanently identifying your cat with a microchip (especially outdoor cats). Collars and tags may also be worn by outdoor cats to provide an additional identification source.
  • Some advantages of outdoor activity for cats include: decreased incidence of obesity, and decreased behavioral problems as they experience less perceived stress from confinement or the stress of multi-cat households.

We Recommend Keeping Cats Indoors