Cat Care FAQ
Frequently asked questions about caring for your feline friend.
What vaccines does my cat need?
The choice of which vaccines your cat should receive is dependent on a number of factors including your cat’s risk of exposure to the disease-causing organisms, the consequence of infection and the risk an infected cat poses to human health.
For the above reasons we recommend the following vaccine protocol:
FVRCP (Feline Herpes, Feline Calici Virus, Panleukopenia)
These viruses cause 80-90% of all feline upper respiratory disease
Symptoms include sneezing and eye infections
Adult cats can carry the disease without ever showing symptoms
Some more aggressive strains can be fatal
Panleukopenia (also called feline distemper) causes vomiting, diarrhea and fever; this disease is often fatal in kittens
FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus)
This virus is spread from cat-to-cat through bite wounds, through casual contact with infected cats and from an infected mother cat to her kittens
Outdoor cats are most at risk of infection
While the risk of your cat contracting rabies is remote, due to the severity of the disease and the potential for human exposure, vaccination is highly recommended for all cats, even those who live exclusively indoors
What do vaccines do?
Vaccines are given to prepare the body’s immune system against invasion by a particular disease-causing organism. Vaccines contain antigens, which are non-infectious particles that, to the immune system, look like the disease-causing organism. When the vaccine is introduced to the body the immune system responds to the antigens by producing antibodies.
These antibodies are a protective response, meaning that if the cat is subsequently exposed to the infectious organism, the immune system is prepared and either prevents infection or reduces the severity of disease.
Should I test my cat for FeLV / FIV?
Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) are serious diseases spread to cats by other cats. All cats should be tested for FeLV and FIV infection at the time of adoption or if they become ill. This is particularly important for cats in multi-cat households, but it is also important for cats in single-cat households, because either of these infections will impact a cat’s health status and long-term management.
What’s the best method of ID for my cat?
There are two main methods of identification for your kitty: tattoos and microchips. In either form of identification it is crucial to ensure that your contact information is current. We can only reunite your kitty with you if we know where you are!
Each tattoo is unique for the patient and consists of a series of letters and numbers placed in the right ear. They help to identify your kitty locally providing the clinic where the tattoo is registered is open. For many years people have relied on tattoos as a permanent form of identification for their cats. Unfortunately, tattoos, although beneficial, are not an infallible method because they may fade over time and become unreadable.
Microchips are another form of identification that has been developed to help reunite lost kitties with their families. Microchips are implanted in cats by injection. The method of implanting a microchip is very much like administering a vaccination. A sterile applicator is used to inject the microchip under the skin between the shoulder blades. Each rice-sized microchip is programmed with a unique identification number. Once the microchip is implanted, it is read using a scanning device. The scanner emits a low-frequency radio signal, activating the microchip. The microchip sends the identification number back to the scanner where it is displayed and entered into a database, along with the proper contact information.
When should I spay / neuter my kitten?
It is recommended to spay / neuter at 5-6 months of age before the first heat or sexual maturity. These procedures are performed under a general anesthetic with intravenous fluid therapy and post operative pain management. We highly recommend tattoo and / or microchip identification be done at this time for the safety and wellbeing of your kitty.
How do I know if my cat has parasites?
Internal parasites such as roundworms and tapeworms are commonly found in kitties. These parasites will be transferred from mother to kitten, through cat-to-cat contact or by hunting. A diagnostic stool test is recommended as these internal parasites are zoonotic, meaning that they can be transmitted from cat to human. A fresh stool sample (approximately 1 teaspoon) is required for the ova and parasite test. Even if this test is negative, the doctor may recommend treatment because adult worms do not shed their eggs into the feces with every bowel movement resulting in a possible false negative.
Using a flea comb is a handy way to check for external parasites. In British Columbia fleas are very common in every season. Therefore, we recommend that any cat that goes outdoors or is in contact with other outdoor animals use flea prevention year-round. We have also seen flea infestations in cats who are strictly indoors, so vigilance is important.
How do I care for my cat’s teeth?
Kittens will lose all their deciduous teeth at 4-6 months of age and adult cats normally have 30 teeth. Cat’s teeth, like ours, need regular attention. Starting an oral hygiene regiment while your cat is still young will make future care easier on both you and your kitty. Oral health is strongly linked to internal disease involving the kidneys, heart and other organs so proper dental hygiene is very important.
Brushing is the best way to reduce tartar and gum disease, but many cats will not tolerate this procedure. There are, however, other dental products which are easier to administer and still do a great job of aiding in your kitty’s overall dental health. These include oral gel to combat gingivitis and specific veterinary dental diets which will greatly reduce tartar accumulation.
Regular dental cleanings are often required to keep your kitty’s mouth healthy. The veterinarian will let you know what steps need to be taken for your kitty’s individual oral care needs.
What should I feed my cat?
Kittens should be fed 3-4 small meals a day consisting of a high quality kitten food which is specially formulated for their young bodies. Kitten food typically has increased levels of necessary proteins, vitamins and minerals to enable muscle and bone growth.
For cats of all ages we recommend feeding a combination of high quality wet and dry commercially prepared diets. Feeding canned food is very important because the extra water content helps to maintain urogenital health. Unlike dogs, cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they require predominantly high quality protein which is available in canned foods. Fresh water should be available to your kitty at all times. We recommend providing multiple water sources in the event a bowl gets knocked over or the kitty is unable to get to it for any reason.
If you are concerned about your cat’s diet or if your cat is overweight please contact our doctors and staff and we would be more than happy to discuss his / her individual nutritional needs.
How do I teach my kitten good manners?
Play gently with your kitty using toys and NOT your hands. This will help to prevent aggressive behaviour in adult life. Provide a sturdy scratching post free of any dangling toys or ropes as these can be dangerous for your kitty. You may use catnip to encourage use if he / she is reluctant to use it at first. Kitties need stimulation and interaction with their human companions so we recommend having a daily scheduled play time with your furry friend using interactive toys to help enrich and brighten their days. Indoor cats need to have their environment enriched to mimic their playful and predatory behaviours.
Trim your kitty’s nails every 3-4 weeks to help prevent damage to household items and furniture. As cats age the natural shedding of the nails, due to scratching behaviour is reduced resulting in nail overgrowth.
Always provide a litterbox filled with soft, non-dusty and non-scented, clumping cat litter. Kitties do tend to have a preference so when you find one he / she likes try not to change brands. There should be one litterbox per adult cat in the household placed in a quiet, low traffic area such as a bathroom or spare room. In order to prevent inappropriate litter habits use a non-hooded box with no litter liners, large enough for your kitty to comfortably walk around in. Most importantly, remember to keep the litterboxes very clean, scooping daily because if the box is dirty they will go elsewhere!
If your kitty is exhibiting any behaviour problems please contact the doctor immediately before they become habits that are difficult to change.
What should I look for as my cat ages?
Never assume that changes you see in your older cat are simply due to old age, and therefore untreatable. Any alteration in your cat’s behaviour or physical condition should alert you to contact the veterinarian. Close observation is one of the most important tools you have to help keep your senior cat healthy. Signs to look for include:
Vomiting and / or diarrhea
Change in water intake
Change in appetite
Change in behaviour, i.e. hiding or vocalizing
Drooling, bad breath, or chattering teeth
Change in coat
Limping, lameness, change in ability to jump on to furniture or go up stairs
See Wellness Exams for information on All About Cats’ preventive health services.
How should I groom my cat?
All cats, even short haired breeds, require brushing or combing on a regular basis. However, longhaired breeds may require professional grooming. Brachycephalic or flat-faced cats will require face cleaning which involves removing debris from the area around the eyes and nose. Neglecting regular grooming can lead to skin disease, eye infections and discomfort for your cat.
All About Cats offers comprehensive cat grooming services to pamper your feline.
See our Grooming page for information on our cat grooming services.
Is my cat at risk for genetically linked diseases?
As with humans, many cats can be genetically predisposed to certain diseases. The doctor can discuss diagnostics to enable early treatment or prevention in many cases.