HEALTH and WELFARE
Below is a gradually expanding suggested collection of important information, tips and everyday facts from various experienced sources such as breeders, show people, owners, GCCF, International Cat Care, Royal Dick, Langfords, Pawpeds and vets etc. We hope to provide potential owners with a wealth of information to ensure their furry family have a loving, luxurious and pampered life.
Much of the information about cat illnesses and diseases comes from the International Cat Care website which hosts a comprehensive array of interesting and informative information. Click on the logo below.
If you feel you have any valuable tips to help potential or current owners, in the first instance please contact us via our CONTACT page.
General Healthcare of your kitten/cat:
Below are just some recommended tips on the care of your kitten/cat to help settle it in to its new home. It is advised that prior to the arrival of your furry friend, that you register your new pet with a Veterinary Practice prior to obtaining and bringing home your new kitten/cat.
Vaccinations - All pedigree kittens should be at least 13 weeks old minimum as recommended by the GCCF and should have completed a course of at least 2 basic vaccinations against Cat Flu, (Calici, Enteritis, Herpes) to be followed 1 year later with a booster. If your cat has any form of access to the outside or cats that go outside, then it is advised to vaccinate your kitten/cat against Leukaemia as well. You can ask the breeder to triple vaccinate including FeLV which is recommended if you intend showing your cat or allowing outside access.
Microchipping - Allows your kitten/cat to be registered on a UK wide Database which the RSPCA, SSPCA, animal charities and vets have access to. This means if your kitten/cat goes missing and is found and taken to a vets, it will be scanned and could be re-united with you. Microchipping usually costs about £20 + at a vets or a breeder and a small microchip about the size of a grain of rice is injected in to the soft skin around the shoulder area and takes just a few seconds.
Insurance - It is advised to have insurance for your pet due to increased veterinary costs and medicine costs. A simple accident or illness whilst in the home or garden could lead to expensive treatment for you and your credit card. A comprehensive insurance cover could cost about £8 - 12 per month and will give you peace of mind. Pet insurance from specialist companies can be found in cat magazines, forums and links from breeders websites. Although we as a club cannot endorse or recommend specific companies, there are firms such as Petplan and Agria who are purely pet insurers and offer excellent cover policies, remember though cheap may be convenient, but is not always best.
A guide has been produced by The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy and Agria Pet Insurance for all cat owners. It is by no means definitive but is designed to highlight some of the important considerations when deciding which pet insurance policy is right for your cat.
The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy offers information, advice and expertise to help you breed, own or choose the cat that’s right for you and your lifestyle. Established as an independent body in 1910 from the clubs registering cats at the time, the GCCF now has more than 150 member clubs, licences more than 150 cat shows and registers approximately 30,000 pedigree cats per year. GCCF has now teamed up with Agria to offer a range of insurance options for your cat.
Agria is one of the leading pet insurers in the world, writing its first animal policy in 1890. Today the company dominates Scandinavia and, working closely with breeders, vets and other parts of the animal owning community, started insuring pets in the UK in 2009. Agria offers affordable lifetime cat insurance with discounts for owners insuring two or more cats and a range of pick and mix benefits and cover levels so you only pay for the cover you want.
Worming - All kittens should be wormed every 2 weeks from birth and usually with panacur up to 3 months old.b Some vets then recommend every month up to 6 months of age and then every 3 months thereafter depending on if they have outside access. Different products do different jobs, recommended wormers are Drontal (tablet) and Panacur (liquid, paste, granules) although other worming products are available from your vets including spot on treatments administered near the base of the neck (some breeders advocate against spot on wormers).
Check with your breeder as to which type of wormer has been used and then follow your vets suggested regular course of worming treatment to ensure your pet remains free of worms and intestinal parasites.
There are several different types of worms and parasites which can infest cats, for example Roundworm, Lungworm, Ringworm, Giarrdia and T.Foetus to name a few. However each one requires a different wormer to be effective.
Flea/Tick Treatment - Fleas are ferocious little bouncing monsters and can cause severe allergic skin reactions in some cats, as well as being extremely itchy to a cat and owner alike. Fleas can cause skin rashes in cats, and cats can scratch and bite themselves quite aggressively to try to relieve the irritability. Fleas can propogate at an intense rate of speed and can be difficult to treat in some cases. Treatments such as Advocate spot on, flea collars and Frontline can be very effective in breaking the flea cycle providing you keep up a regular treatment programme.
Vets usually recommend flea treating a cat once every month even if it doesn't go outdoors as fleas are often brought in to the pet owners home on their clothes, thus actually infecting their pets themselves and not the other way round !! Indorex spray is an excellent treatment for use in and around the home on carpets and furniture. However never use flea sprays in a room if a cat is in the room as some sprays are often mildly poisonous to a cat.
Some breeders/owners will not use drop on treatment and in some rare cases will not sell you a kitten if you intend to use spot on treatments, insisting on spray treatments only.
Ticks are horrible creepy white beetle looking critters who like to burrow their heads under the skin of an animals body to suck the blood out (like vampires)and eventually falling off when their bodies are full. There are various removal tools available now and snipping the ticks body off behind the head does not always work, you need to snip as close to the cats body as you can, through the ticks head and then allow it to die and fall off naturally. Other ways are using small drops of parafin around the ticks head and body, burning the body and head (not advised) could leave your cat looking like an oven roast chicken!! If you have any tips please e-mail them in.
Neutering - The club strongly recommends neutering all pet cats, most vets recommend between the ages of 5 - 7 months prior to the cat reaching sexual maturity. Neutering also reduces the risk of uteral infections and Pyometra in female cats as well as reducing the chance of accidental unwanted pregnancies. Some breeders will even withold the GCCF Pink Slip and in some cases the Pedigree Certificate as well, until proof of neutering is received from a vet.
There are concerns at present over 'early neutering' practices by some vets, we recommend you discuss this with your vet and make your own decision after taking advice.
At present there are 2 main types of neutering available in a female, in the flank (side) and central line (abdominal). Flank is generally cheaper and heals quicker, but requires the side to be shaved which can take a few months to fully grow back especially in a long haired cat. It can also leave a permanent coat variation in shorter haired cats like Bengals, in this case vets and owners often prefer to go midline on the abdomen where the scar is not easily seen and doesn't affect the coat and pattern of cats being shown as neuters.
Transport - When collecting your kitten/cat from a breeder, please ensure you take a hygienic well ventilated carrier with a lockable door. Place a couple of sheets of newspaper in the bottom and then a blanket, rug, towel etc on the top of that to keep the kitten/cat warm. Top openers are sometimes preferable as kittens often hide in the back corner of the carrier and it's easier to lift them out from the top. Please do not arrive with a cardboard box or no carrier, as a reputable breeder will not allow their kitten to leave in one or on your lap. Putting a small stuffed toy about the same size as a kitten often acts as a comforter for them.
The New Home - Once arriving home with your new kitten in its carrier, carefully place it down in the same room as its food and water bowl and ideally its litter tray which should be of the same type as the breeder and also the same litter initially.
Leave the kitten for several minutes to allow its tummy to settle down from the car journey. Then open the carrier and allow the kitten to come out of its own accord rather than you lifting it out, this will help to reduce its stress levels.
If you have other animals, keep the kitten isolated for the first few days to reduce stress and possible cross infection from other animals, especially cats if they have outside access.
Gradually after a few days introduce the kitten to other animals under close supervision to prevent accidents and potential fighting. Your breeder will offer you clear instructions and advice, please follow their advice and don't rush introductions just to please other family members or for convenience.
It is not uncommon for kittens to be sometimes unwell when coming to their new homes, in most circumstances this is stress related and can leave the kitten with symptoms of a small cold. Remember they have just left their mothers and siblings so may be a little upset. Other kittens may be the total opposite and arrive like a missile out of their carriers and proceed to play with anything available.
Do not introduce them to the whole house initially, as this may overwhelm them and 'little accidents' may occur. Keep them close to their litter trays initially and allow them to progress a room at a time.
Arrange to be at home for the first few days of your kitten being at home to help them settle in and ensure they have company. Spend as much time as possible, stroking and brushing them at the beginning to ensure they are used to being groomed and handled. Ensure you check their ears and eyes regularly and get them used to being cleaned, especially if they will have outside access. Kittens often don't like being left alone during the early weeks, so be prepared to have them sleeping on your bed or at the side of your bed. Cats like to go where a humans scent is the strongest, this is usually 'your bed' !!
Diet - This varies from breed to breed and owner to breeder etc...the basic rule of thumb is to provide the best quality diet for your cats as you can possibly afford.
DRY - Cheap supermarket dry diets may seem appealing due to the cost, but the quality is often very poor and bulked up with cereals and vegetables which aren't natural to a cat.
Breed requirements also vary as well, but companies such as Royal Canin cater for specific breeds. IAM's, Purina, James Wellbeloved are excellent quality foods, but again remember, breeds differ in their eating habits. Some breeds need food down 24/7 as they are grazers, whereas others can be fed at set times throughout the day.
BARF - bone and raw feed diets are very good but can be slightly lacking in Taurine. These diets generally can be bought frozen from a variety of suppliers and then defrosted and fed raw at room temp. Some flavours are beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, rabbit, game, venison to name a few. These diets are 100% meat/bone/muscle and not full of additives/preservatives.
Fish - A variety of fish can be fed raw or lightly cooked. Most white fish is accepted, salmon, tuna, sardines and some prawns as well. Some cats avoid trout and mackerel as the scent and taste is quite strong.
Play - Is vital to a cat as it helps to develop its social skills as well as hunting and balancing skills and above all else...keeps them fit, healthy and alert.
Toys - There are literally 1000's of toys out there for cats and kittens and different owners swear by different toys. Some of the most popular though are toilet roll holders, cardboard boxes and screwed up paper. Shop bought toys which keep cats stimulated and fit, are red dot laser pens, Hagen tracks with the balls inside which now come in flashing colours which cats go crazy for, catnip toys, feather dusters, mouse on a rotating arm (battery operated), stuffed toy rats - females love them.
Activity Centres - Are a must for most cats as they usually incorporate scratch posts for stretching the back and scratching, shelves for climbing and jumping, usually a box or hammock for snoozing in. Most importantly they provide exercise for a cat.
Signs of Ill Health -
- Bleeding Wounds - Depending on the location and severity, notify your vet immediately for advice as the wound may need stitching. Minor cuts can be treated with a wound powder, sterile dressing and a bandage to hold in place.
- Stings - Depending on whether in/near the eye/mouth, contact your vet immediately as the treatment for bee stings is different to that of a wasp sting.
- Vomitting - Always treat as serious and contact your vet as it could be a sign of serious illness. Other types of 'vomitting' can be caused by reflux, furballs, eating too quickly, eating the wrong thing ie; slugs etc.., drinking the wrong thing ie; poisons etc...over grooming. Always contact your vet if concerned.
- Diarrhoea - Can be extremely dangerous as a cat will rapidly dehydrate and can lose a large amount of body weight in a short period of time, it can also be a symptom of a more serious illness. Worms, Giarrdia, T.Foetus, poor quality diet and dirty water can be more common causes of diarrhoea.
- Eyes - Dry, sticky, swollen, puss filled, runny, usually indicate a form of infection, but can also be the result of a more serious illness.
- Ears - Smelly, crusty, dirty, scratched, bitten, mites, oily, full of fluid, polyps, growths etc are all sighs to beware of. White/pale cats may require suncream on their ears to help prevent cancer if exposed to the sun too much.
- Breathing - Should be stable, not heavy or too shallow. Cats may hang their tongues out and pant if hot or after exercise. If a cat is struggling to breathe or is taking larger breaths than normal, contact your vet immediately.
- Paws - Pads should not be dry or cracked, claws should be intact including sheaths and fully furred...unless a Sphynx. Be aware of cuts, stings and grass seeds in a cats paw.
First Aid boxes - Can be invaluable in times of emergency, suggested contents can be, cotton wool balls, cotton buds, gauze pads, surgical spirit, anti-septic wipes, wormer, flea control, ear drops, re-hydration crystals, lint, blue roller bandage, roll of plaster tape, tweezers, nail clippers, round ended scissors, foil blanket, plastic syringes, baby bottle, tube feeders, thermometer. Other items can be added but these are all fairly important items to keep, most people keep a human first aid box, surely our beloved pets need the same.
Feline Diseases: Below is a gradually expanding list (including links and references) of some of the main or more common diseases and conditions which affect our beloved kittens and cats.
Feline Flu (Cat Flu) - Cat flu is a common illness that affects the upper respiratory tract of cats. It can be caused by a number of infectious agents, including viruses and bacteria and can be life threatening.Unfortunately, cat flu still persists, despite the availability of vaccines. The cats most severely affected include the very young, very old and those with a damaged immune system – immunosuppressed cats. Immunosuppressed cats include those infected with the feline leukaemia virus FeLV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), those with other serious illnesses and those receiving certain medication eg the drugs used in chemotherapy.
Feline Leukaemia (FeLV) - First discovered in the 1960s, feline leukemia virus is a transmittable RNA retrovirus that can severely inhibit a cat’s immune system. It is one of the most commonly diagnosed causes of disease and death in domestic cats.
Because the virus doesn’t always manifest symptoms right away, any new cat entering a household—and any sick cat—should be tested for FeLV.
The FeLV virus is shed in many bodily fluids, including saliva, nasal secretions, urine, feces and blood. FeLV is most commonly transmitted through direct contact, mutual grooming and through sharing litter boxes, food and water bowls. It can also be passed in utero or through mother’s milk. Outdoor cats who get into fights with other cats can transmit the disease through bites and scratches. It should be noted that healthy cats over three months of age and vaccinated for FeLV are highly unlikely to contract the virus from another cat.
Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) - Is a fatal disease caused by a Corona Virus. Corona virus on its own is often very common and non-serious, but to an infected cat, the virus mutates in to FIP becoming fatal. It can be more common in large colonies, and at present it is believed uo to 40 % of all cats carry a mild form of Corona Virus. Contraction is usually via faecal/oral contamination/ingestion from grooming or eating or using an infected litter tray. Common symptoms are yellow fluid and a swollen abdomen/chest cavity resulting in breathing difficulties, lethargy, loss of appetite, eye lesions, tremors, loss of balance are just 'some' of the possible symptoms. At present, upon diagnosis, euthanasia is the kindest and recommended course of action.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) - Comes from the same retrovirus family as FeLV. Transmission is usually via biting and is quite common with free roaming male cats but much lesser in housebound cats, mothers can pass it to their kittens via milk or via the birth canal. Infected cats can have the disease for years before it shows, usually showing via immuno-deficiency such as inability to fight off infections leading to total breakdown of the immunity system. Initially the virus affects the lymph nodes but can be seen as regular fever, poor coat condition, loss of appetite, gingivitis, stomatis, skin infections, bladder infections respiratory infections, eye conditions and recurring diarrhoea, weight loss...treatment varies but a vet will advise a course of treatment.
Polycistic Kidney Disease (PKD) - Is a disease whereby a large number of fluid filled cysts form in the kidneys. These cysts are there from birth in affected cats, starting off very small, they grow with age-eventually causing kidney failure, usually by the age of 7/8, although younger cats can have the disease. PKD is a disease inherited from its parents, some breeds are more susceptible than others to PKD. Only one parent carrying the gene is required for it to be passed to its offspring. It should be noted that there is also more than one form of PKD. At present there is no cure for PKD.
Worried about household disinfects and what you can and can't use? If your disinfectant contains PHENOL or CRESOL, do NOT use as it is highly POISONOUS to cats. Most brands contain these chemicals (which turn a milky white when added to water).
However disinfectants containing Parvocide, GPC-8, Virkon, Peratol and Trigene are safe to use, bleach is safe if diluted and fully rinsed. Always use according to manufacturers instructions and ensure all disinfected utensils etc are rinsed and aired/dried before re-use.
Caustic Soda, Aerosols, and some air fresheners can be poisonous to cats and symptoms can range from coughing and sneezing, nasal and occular discharge, diarrhoea and if ingested directly may be fatal.
Poisonous Plants: (A comprehensive list can be found on the ICC website)
Lillies (especially the stamen), euphorbia, foxglove/digitalis, rhododendron are all poisonous to cats.
Frogs and Toads: Frogs and Toads can omit a toxin through their skin which can be fatal to cats if ingested, if you see your cat playing with either and then licking its paws, contact your vet immediately.