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3 Aspects of Feline Health You Need to Know

Did you know that there are actually more pet cats than pet dogs in America? Because cats tend to not walk on leashes well or have fun at parks we often forget that they are around and need medical care too. They also tend to be fairly self-sufficient and some may not enjoy being petted or being in the company of their humans.
woman with her cat

However cats still need routine veterinary care! Did you know that even indoor cats can get harmful parasites such as fleas and ticks, Bartonella (which can cause cat-scratch fever in humans), intestinal parasites such as hookworms, coccidia, roundworms, tapeworms, and whipworms, and heartworms? If you’re going to be this close to your cat, shouldn’t you make sure he is parasite free first?

Here are the top three reasons we think your cat needs to visit us!

1. A Physical exam:

The nose-to tip-of-tail exam by a veterinarian allows us to evaluate many aspects of your cat’s health. We check their eyes, ears, nose, mouth, teeth, gums, skin, paws, nails, legs/ skeleton, tail (including their urogenital tract and anus), palpate their belly, and listen to their heart and lungs! Along the way we check for anything abnormal, like skin rashes, broken teeth, gum disease, abscesses, ear infections, possibly neoplastic tumors, weight loss, enlarged thyroid glands or lymph nodes, and about a thousand other things! After performing this physical examination your veterinarian may recommend a different diet, a supplement, further testing, or they may send you home with a reminder to return next year! Cats are masters of disguise and will often not let us know when they are sick. That means they have to be REALLY sick before we figure it out and by then, it may be too late.

2. Vaccinations:

dr sawyer with cat

Did you know that in North Carolina it is the law that every pet be vaccinated for Rabies? We vaccinate at about age 16 weeks, again a year later, and after that every three years. There are rare cases where we will recommend not vaccinating a cat for rabies, such as very old or immune-compromised cats. In those cases we recommend running yearly titers to see the level of antibody for that vaccine and we will provide you with a letter stating why your pet cannot be vaccinated. If a cat lapses on their rabies vaccine and bites a person they are required by law to be quarantined.

Other important vaccines for cats include feline panleukopenia (also called feline distemper), which is a highly contagious and deadly viral disease of cats. Panleukopenia happens to be very hardy and can survive extremes of temperatures and humidity for many months. It is resistant to most readily available disinfectants. The vaccine we use is approved to be given every three years after the initial series.

We also recommend the feline leukemia vaccine for any cat who goes outdoors or is exposed to cats who go outdoors. Feline leukemia is the leading viral killer of cats. It is spread through cat-to-cat bite wounds, causal contact with infected cats, and through an infected cat to her kittens.

3. Parasite prevention:

Each year we recommend examining a small sample of your cat’s stool microscopically for intestinal parasites. We are looking for whipworms, hookworms, roundworms, and coccidia. We also check the stool grossly for tapeworms. If any of these potentially zoonotic (able to be spread from animal to human) parasites are noted we will prescribe a dewormer. We also examine your cat for evidence of fleas and ticks. We recommend that all cats in our area be on a monthly heartworm prevention as we see mosquitoes year-round. Many heartworm prevention products also contain intestinal parasite treatment, and some come with a flea killer too!

veterinarian cartoon

4. (extra!) We want to see them too!

Well, we are in this business because we love animals! With Your Love + Our Care we can keep your cats healthy and happy for a long, long time. They deserve it!

(click on the cartoon to enlarge it)

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