Intestinal worms are parasites that live in a cat’s intestines. All cats can get worms, but kittens are most at risk! Worms can make your kitten very sick causing weight-loss, diarrhoea and even death.
Cats are infested with worms by everyday contact with eggs in soil that has been contaminated by poo, from eating fleas whilst grooming, or through close contact with other animals.
Whilst uncommon, you and your family can catch worms from your kitten or cat. Babies and small children are most at risk as their immune systems are not fully developed and they often forget to wash their hands after playing with their kitten. Therefore, it is important to teach children to wash their hands.
The common intestinal worms that we medicate against are Roundworm, Hookworm and tapeworm. Worming should be done regardless of whether worms are seen in poo or not, as many are too small to be seen with the naked eye.
Symptoms of a worm infestation can be varied. Signs to look out for are:
Poor coat, loss of vitality and lethargy
Abdominal pain as a result of inflammation of the intestinal wall
Diarrhoea and vomiting
Blood in poo as a result of intestinal bleeding
Itchy sores (often on paws)
Recommended worming prevention program:
6-12wks old: Fortnightly tablet
3-6mths olds: Monthly tablet
6mths onwards: Tabletevery three months
Alternatively, there are products available that incorporate intestinal worming with fleas and heart worm prevention
Regular poo picking in your garden is also extremely important!
Just as we get flu, so can cats and just as easily! Cat flu is a highly contagious virus that can be contracted by cats of all ages.
Symptoms of Cat flu include:
Loss of appetite, sneezing, eye and nasal discharges
Ulcers and blisters on the tongue
Mild to severe pneumonia
Kittens are particularly affected, but the disease can be dangerous in any unprotected cat, as effective treatment is limited. Even if a cat recovers, it can remain a carrier for life and continue too infect other cats as well as suffer from chronic sneezing and runny eyes. Vaccination is therefore tremendously important.
Feline Infectious Enteritis
This highly contagious virus is so resistant that it can survive outside up to a year outside a cat’s body! Therefore, as most cats will be exposed to it during their lifetime vaccination against this potentially fatal disease is absolutely essential.
Symptoms of Enteritis
Happily, the vaccine itself is very effective at preventing the disease.
Feline AIDS (FIV)
Feline AIDS (FIV) is transmitted in cats by deep bite wounds and scratches. Therefore, outdoor cats which fight with other cats are at higher risk of contracting FIV.
Cats infected with FIV may remain healthy for a number of years. While some infected cats show no signs of the disease, others may become unwell and suffer from constant infections among other symptoms. As the disease progresses the immune system becomes too weak to fight off infections. As a result the cat will die of theses infections. However, FIV can easily be prevented through a course of vaccinations
New born kittens are usually protected from disease for the first few weeks of life by their mother’s milk, but this is only short term, and by about seven weeks of age this immunity provided by the mother starts to wear off, leaving kitten un-protected against life-threatening diseases unless they are vaccinated.
Kittens need to have a course of ONE TO THREE or FOUR vaccinations to be protected against disease depending on whether your cat is an indoor or outdoor cat. It is important that your kitten stays indoors until they have had the full course of vaccinations.
Recommended vaccination program:
INDOOR cats only need the F3 Vaccination program
OUTDOOR cats need both the F3 & FIV vaccination programs
A new pet food should always be introduced gradually, even if your pet appears to like a new food. This will help reduce the chance of a stomach upset following a food change. Change to diet affect different animals in different ways, so it is more important to manage the change carefully. Some animals will be changing foods because it may be required to help manage a medical condition. For any of these animals it is important to follow any advice given by your vet. Appetite can be affected by disease, so speak to your vet to see whether there is any special feeding advice for your pet.
You might like to try some of the following suggestions to ease the transition between foods:
Gradually introduce the food over a 2 week period. Introduce approximately 10% of the new food each day, mixed in with the old food. Increase the proportions by approximately 10% each day until you reach the full amount of the new food
If you are using canned or wet food in pouches, warm the new food to body temperature, but no hotter. Most animals, especially cats, prefer canned food slightly warm as it can improve the smell and feel in the mouth
Avoid feeding chilled foods
You can change the texture of canned food by adding a small amount of warm water to soften it and make it easier to mix the old and new food types together
Keep a bowl of clean fresh water available at all times
Try adding warm water to dry food to soften it. Some dogs to prefer their dry food with water added. Most cats will not like water added to dry food
Don’t be tempted to add human food titbits to the new diet. Most animals will end up wanting the human food instead and this can develop into a bad habit long term.
For very fussy or finicky eaters, try hand feeding the new food as a treat. This will reinforce the positive bond between the owner, pet and the new food.
No animal should be starved whilst trying to introduce a new food.
If you are really struggling to change your pet’s food, speak to your vet or nurse to see if they have any extra behaviour tips to help you
Kittens have a temporary set of baby teeth which they normally lose by the time they are 5-6mths old. Gum disease is a major cause of kidney and heart valve problems in older cats therefore it is important to look after your cat’s teeth from an early age.
Cats are prone to tarter that if left to build up leads to bad breath, gum disease, tooth decay and loss of teeth. The only way to remove bad tarter is by cleaning under anaesthetic as cats can’t clean their own teeth! however, uncooked bones are great for cleaning teeth.
Recommended dental care
- Uncooked chicken necks & wings are great for cleaning teeth. Give as part of your kitten’s diet in moderation (1-2 times a week).
Wendy has been working at the Wynnum Bayside Veterinary Surgery for fours years as a vet nurse. She is also looks after all the practice administration as well as managing our ongoing practice facelift, the first stage of which was completed in 2012.