Routine Physical Exams To Detect Issues Early
Regular Wellness Exams are the foundation for good feline health. From kittenhood through old age, thorough physical examinations are crucial to ensure that your feline is staying as healthy as possible. Our physical exam includes looking at the ears, throat and eyes, listening to the heart and lungs, palpating the abdomen to check for any “lumps and bumps”, assessing coat health and body condition score, examining teeth and gums, and checking joints for signs of pain or stiffness.
Dr. Carnohan recommends that young kittens be examined every three to four weeks up until four months of age to ensure proper growth rate. Adult cats should be seen yearly for maintenance, and senior cats should receive two physical exams per year since they are at a higher risk of developing certain diseases associated with advanced age. Always remember that early detection leads to a better prognosis!
To vaccinate or not? This is the question.
With the multitude of feline vaccines available it’s often difficult to choose which vaccines are necessary and safe for your kitties.
Several years ago, veterinarians were noticing that cats were getting horrible cancerous tumors on the back of their necks – the place where we used to give cats their vaccines. These tumors were aggressive fibrosarcomas that were usually inoperable and thus the cats were humanely euthanized. After much research, they linked these tumors to the aluminum preservative (also called an “adjuvent”) in the Rabies and Feline Leukemia vaccines. This is why we now vaccinate cats low on their hind limbs just to be safe – if a tumor develops, we can save the cat’s life by removing the leg. This does not occur in dogs. Fortunately, Merial developed safer non-adjuvented Rabies and FELV vaccines for cats which are much safer – they do not induce tumor growth and are effective vaccines.
We thought it might be beneficial to give our clients a break down of the vaccines we offer here at the Clinic and explain which kitties these vaccines are designed for.
It is our legal responsibility to ensure that every single cat is current on their Rabies Vaccine. Even indoor cats can be exposed to this disease which proves fatal to pets and humans alike. This vaccine is non-negotiable and must be administered according to North Carolina State Law.
Here at the Cat Care Clinic we strongly recommend administering the Rabies PureVax vaccine. This particular vaccine is non-adjuvanted and, therefore, considered safer for our feline friends. This vaccine protects your cat for 1 year. For those feral or just hard-to-catch kitties we offer a standard Rabies vaccine that lasts for 3 years.
The FVRCP Vaccine (otherwise known as”Distemper”) is strongly recommended for all felines. This vaccine protects against a combination of diseases including distemper (panleukopenia), calicivirus and herpes. The Distemper virus is extremely easy to transmit and can be carried home on clothing to indoor kitties.
It is recommended that kittens under the age of 4 months receive a Distemper vaccine booster every 2 weeks until age 16 weeks for optimal coverage. After their 1 year booster, the FVRCP vaccine provides coverage for 3 years.
FIV is spread only through mating and bite wounds. It is important to be aware that once your kitties are vaccinated for FIV, they will test positive for the virus. This is the reason Dr. Karel does NOT recommend this vaccine. Keeping your cats indoors and away from stray cats is your most important defense.
Feline Leukemia Vaccine
Feline Leukemia is a deadly disease for which their is no treatment. Feline Leukemia is spread through bodily fluids (including saliva). Even contact with other kitties through screens can result in the transmission of this deadly virus. We recommend testing for this disease before their initial vaccines and re-tested again in 4 to 6 months. The initial Feline Leukemia vaccine needs to be boosted in 3-4 weeks regardless of a cat’s age. We recommend all kittens receive the vaccine with their kitten shots and then boosted at 1 year. After that, if your cat is strictly indoor and has no contact with strange cats, the vaccine is optional. However, many people keep the vaccine on-board in case their cat gets outside. Feline Leukemia is a young cat disease – after 12 years we no longer consider it necessary even if your cat goes outdoors.
Even indoor-only cats are exposed to parasites – you bring eggs of fleas and worms into the house on your shoes and maybe in potting soil. Every time you open a door or window mosquitoes can fly in and bite your cat. Mosquitoes carry heartworms and one bite can transmit the disease and once fleas get in your house, it is difficult to get rid of them. So we recommend using multi-agent products monthly to protect your pet. Revolution and Advantage Multi will kill fleas, round and hookworms, heartworm larvae and even ear mites. If your cat goes outside these preventatives are even more important. The only things they don’t get are ticks and tapeworms. If your cat is exposed to ticks, we recommend an additional product, Fipronil, to prevent tick attachment. Tapeworms are transmitted by fleas and rodents – if you control fleas you help control tapeworms. The nice thing about tapeworms, if you can say anything nice about intestinal worms, is that you can usually see them either on your cat’s anus or in his stool; tapes are white short fat worms that look like calimari and the eggs look like rice kernels.
Most people think that cats can’t get heartworms – not true! They may be less likely than dogs but they still can get them. Sadly, unlike dogs, there is no effective safe treatment for the disease in cats. So, protecting them is important.
Nutrition and Weight Management
Please see our Nutritional Counseling page.