Tag Archives: Cats

Cat fights

Cats typically have a hate-hate relationship with any strange cat in their presence, yard, or environment. When new cats meet, they fluff up, spit, hiss – more like scream! – and the fur soon goes flying. While the brawl may only last a few seconds, that’s enough time for a few diseases to jump bodies.

Feline leukemia (FeLV), feline immunodeficiency virus or cat AIDS (FIV), infectious peritonitis (FIP), or nasty bacterial infections are transmitted from cat to cat in saliva.

Outside cats, particularly unneutered males, love to fight. Most times they will end up with a nasty abscess.

What exactly is an abscess? It’s basically a pocket of pus under the skin. It makes a cat very ill because of the bacteria and toxins it releases into the bloodstream. He is feverish, goes off his food, hides and sleeps a lot.

Treatment for abscesses involves a general anaesthesia, clipping and cleaning the skin, lancing the abscess and flushing all the pus out, placing a drain to allow any new pus to empty, antibiotics and pain relief. Some cats are so sick they need hospitalisation and intravenous fluids for a night or two.

How do we avoid all this??

Desex your cat if he is still entire. Keep him indoors, particularly in the evenings and at night when the brawling usually happens.

Keep other cats off your property. A dog on patrol will soon despatch an intruder. Otherwise keep an eye out for a few evenings and frighten strays off with a loud noise.

Catch the infection as soon as possible. If your cat has been in a fight bring him immediately for an antibiotic shot to discourage the abscess from forming.

Vaccinate your cat against FIV, Feline AIDS. There are three shots in the initial course. A booster at the annual checkup and vaccine review prevents the virus gaining a toe hold.

 

Snake season

Jonah reports that snakes are out and about again. He found one on Saturday night. His carers thought he wasn’t himself on Sunday but when they came home on Monday and found him not able to stand they were sure he wasn’t well.  His breathing was a bit laboured and his eyes were huge.
When we saw him he complained of his plight in a rather plaintive voice. His legs were very weak and he could hardly hold his head up.
This “floppy doll” weakness in a young cat at this time of year rang alarm bells for us.
Adventurous cats and snakes rousing from their winter snooze on a hot weekend are a recipe for disaster! Snakes are especially full of venom at the beginning of the season.
Jonah had some brown snake antivenom and has been on a drip to keep him hydrated. Cats paralysed by snake venom soon become dehydrated because they cannot eat or drink. Jonah has responded well and hopes to go home today!

Lilies poison cats

All species of lilies are toxic to cats. Indoor cats with little choice in plant munching material are most at risk as they will try any cut flower that comes into the house.

Any part of the plant – flowers, leaves or stems – is dangerous. Even lily pollen licked off the coat destroys cats’ kidney tubules.

Lilies proven to poison cats include: Easter Lily (Lilium longiflorum), Tiger Lily ( Lilium tigrinum), Day Lily (Lilium hemerocallus), Asian lily (Lily asiatic spp.) and(Lilium rubrum).

If you see your cat with lily on her coat, in her mouth or in her vomit don’t wait for signs of poisoning. The sooner we get it out of her system and start treatment to protect the kidneys the greater her chance of survival.

Affected cats vomit and are depressed within hours of ingesting lily. Some then seem to recover before starting to show signs of severe kidney failure a day or so later. Others continue vomiting, go off their food and get more and more depressed.

If emptying the stomach and medications to prevent absorption of the toxin are effective, the chance of recovery is excellent.

If your cat absorbs enough toxin to cause damage to her kidneys then her outlook is very poor. It is essential to seek emergency care immediately after ingestion of the lily plant.

Rats and rabbits are not affected by lilies but there could be a risk to dogs.

 

Festive season for pets?

Spare a thought over the festive season for our pets.  Christmas is a fun time of year for humans but it disrupts our animals’ lives, causing stress and untoward changes in their behaviour.

Potential sources of stress include:

  • Car travel
  • Boarding
  • Visitors to their home
  • Parties and increased noise in the neighbourhood
  • Fireworks
  • Changes in routine
  • Visits to unfamiliar environments such as a holiday house or extended family

Many pets become anxious under these stresses. Their behaviour changes to cope with the stresses. These behavioural changes are usually temporary but occasionally turn into long-term, serious problems.

How can we reduce our pets’ anxiety this Christmas?

Reassure your pets in unfamiliar circumstances by allowing them to stay close to you and spending as much time with them as possible. If you have to leave them, give them something familiar like bedding or your shirt.

Provide a comfortable safe hidey hole with lots of fun things to do if visitors are expected or you are planning a party. Long lasting treats like stuffed Kongs and chew toys keep dogs engrossed and happy.

Avoid confronting a dog with anyone they fear. Children or big men frighten some dogs.

Don’t punish a frightened dog or make it face up to its fear. This usually makes an already tense dog more anxious.

Try not to initiate any more fears in your pet. A house suddenly full of noisy party-goers and no secure place to hide will make a timid dog frightened of more people.

Pheromones, naturally produced communicators, reduce anxiety significantly in many pets.   ADAPTIL® (containing Dog Appeasing Pheromone) and Feliway® (containing a calming cat pheromone) are synthetic copies of the animals’ own natural pheromones. They reduce behaviour changes resulting from stress or anxiety.

Feliway replicates the feline facial pheromone that cats rub around their environment so they feel relaxed and at home.

ADAPTIL (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) replicates the pheromone the dam releases when suckling her puppies. It reassures dogs of any age, reducing anxiety and preventing fear and stress related behaviours.

If behaviour resulting from fear and anxiety is out of proportion to what is happening or causes long lasting problems then schedule an appointment with one of our vets. They will work through a programme of retraining or behaviour modification in conjunction with a prescription drug, appropriate for your pet.

 

Kitty Dementia

Dementia, also known as feline cognitive dysfunction, is an age-related disorder of brain function causing multiple behaviour changes.

In cats the behaviour changes include:

  • Yowling excessively and inappropriately
  • Urinating or defecating outside the litter box and around the house
  • Disorientation and aimless wandering
  • Restlessness
  • Changes in interaction with people or other pets such as aggression, irritability and clinginess
  • Erratic sleeping behaviour: waking, pacing or yowling at night, sleeping less at night and more during the day
  • Decreased grooming

Some diseases mimic cognitive dysfunction. These include hyperthyroidism, brain tumours, viral diseases, high blood pressure, chronic pain, arthritis, diabetes, and urinary tract infections. Many of these diseases exacerbate the behaviour changes of cognitive dysfunction, too, so we must check for and/or treat them before we confirm a diagnosis of cognitive dysfunction.

Some commonly used drugs such as prednisolone and valium also reduce brain function. Alternatives that reduce decline are often available.

Therapies

1. Diet: Anti-oxidants delay and treat dementia. Antioxidants include Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Alpha-lipoic acid, L-carnitine and beta-carotene. Fruits and vegetables contain many of these.

Omega 3 fatty acids as found in fish oil or food supplements such as Nutricoat also help.

2. Physical therapy and environmental enrichment: Stimulate brain function and delay the onset of dementia with environmental enrichment and games. Try scattering or hiding food or catnip around the house, provide toys that require batting or rolling to release food, give opportunities for climbing, perching and exploring, trail ribbon or feathers along. Petting, brushing and massage stimulate the nerves and brains of old cats, too.

3. Your vet may prescribe medications to reduce inflammation, enhance memory or improve brain function.

Matted cats

Nurse Tegan helped Mischief out of his winter coat and into his summer splendour this morning. Over winter he can’t keep up with his long hair and it was matted on his sides and belly and up behind his ears.
Mischief is usually pretty laid back and purry but he asked for a sedative so we could clean up those matts behind his ears without hurting him.
He says it takes him a few days to get used to losing his winter coat each year but he soon appreciates the lighter easier style.

Worms in cats

Tapeworms and roundworms are the most common intestinal parasites of cats.

Tapeworms are long flat worms composed of many individual segments which look like wriggling grains of rice in cat faeces.

Round worms are much shorter and rounder and produce microscopic eggs. Hookworm and whipworm are rarer but cause anæmia, loss of protein and gastrointestinal upsets.

Cats are infested with the flea tapeworm Dipylidium caninum by eating fleas carrying the tapeworm during grooming.  The tapeworm mature in cats and pass segments in the faeces which flea larvae ingest.

Cats are infested with the tapeworm Taenia taeniaformis when they eat infected rodents. Infestation with this worm is more common in hunting cats.

Roundworms, Toxocara cati and Toxascaris leonine, are common in young cats and kittens. Cats are infested with roundworm by ingesting worm eggs passed in cat faeces or by eating animals such as mice, which are infested with roundworm.

Most kittens are infested with Toxocara cati through their mother’s milk.

Toxocara cati can infest children if they ingest eggs attached to kitten hair or dirty litter trains.  The eggs hatch to larvae which migrate through the body and may cause damage. To prevent ingestion deworm kittens and cats as advised below, and dispose of litter and disinfect the tray with boiling water at least weekly.

Good quality broad spectrum wormers like Milbemax, Profender spot on and Drontal for cats are effective against all gastrointestinal worms.

Our recommended deworming protocol:

  • Kittens from 4 to 12 weeks of age
    • Treat every two weeks with Milbemax, Profender or Drontal for cats
  • Young cats 3-6 months
    • Treat monthly with Milbemax, Profender or Drontal for cats
  • Cats 6 months of age and older
    • Treat every three months with Milbemax, Profender or Drontal for cats

Pet Insurance

(This post is archived on our website at https://www.hallvet.com.au/about/pet-insurance/)

Some perspective…

According to the Australian Companion Animal Council,

  • vet fees only account for about 1/4 of the cost of your pet,
  • about 1/3 is spent on other services (toys, kennels, grooming, holiday accommodation etc) and
  • the rest – nearly 1/2 – is spent on food.

Big Bills

But there are times when vet bills loom large because of accident or illness. In the last four years at Hall Veterinary Surgery, about 90% of invoices over $1000 were for dogs. They included conditions as diverse as dog-fight injuries, pancreatitis, surgery for cancers, blocked waterworks, broken bones or cruciate ligaments, snake bite, heart failure, car accidents, tick paralysis, vomiting, diarrhoea, and chemotherapy for cancer.
Big bills hit young pets as well as old.

Budgeting

If unexpected vet bills would blow your budget, you could try one of these strategies to minimise the fallout:

  1. Pet insurance costs range from about $18/month (cats, accident only) or $33/month (dog, accident only) up to $65/month (dog select breed, accident/illness.
    Depending on pre-existing conditions and payout limits, pet insurance will reduce the impact of most big bills. Some plans work on a co-payment system, which reduce the premium if you pay 20% or more of any bill.
    Most insurance companies reimburse you after you’ve paid the vet.
  2. A low-fee credit card kept for emergencies only.
  3. Self-insure by putting a monthly contribution into an interest-bearing account. This is the most cost-effective method for small costs; you don’t have to worry about pre-existing conditions and you can economise on multiple pets -as long as they don’t all get sick at the same time. You can also budget for costs that aren’t covered by the pet insurance companies. These include vaccinations, worming, flea and tick protection and wellness programmes. The average monthly costs below will give you an idea of what to put aside. If a big cost comes up before you’ve accumulated enough you’ll still have to bridge the gap.

Total Spend

The table below shows amounts carers spent on individual pets over the last four years. It breaks this down to the average monthly cost of vet care and the percentage of dogs and cats in that spend category. This is the average per pet for all products and services offered at Hall Vet Surgery, including flea and tick products, prescription diets, dental work, big surgeries, cancer treatment, desexing and vaccinations.

Total spent over 4 Years Ave per Month Dogs Cats
$500 $10 54% 38%
$1,000 $21 28% 17%
$2,000 $43 9% 4%
$5,000 $104 1% 0.4%
$10,000 $208 0.1%

So you can think of the percentages as indicative of the chance that your pet will cost at least that much in vet bills. eg if you own a cat, there’s a 1:250 chance your cat might total $5,000, or a 1:10 chance that your dog might cost over $2,000 over four years.

Pet insurance is more cost-effective if your pet is unlucky enough to have a bad accident or becomes ill. But you have to have your pet insured before it happens!

Feline Leukaemia

Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) is an important viral infection of young cats in multi-cat households. Over the last few years infection has become less common.

What diseases are associated with FeLV?

FeLV infection suppresses the immune system making the cat susceptible to secondary infections and chronic diseases that would not affect a normal healthy cat. These include mouth ulceration, cat flu, and fungal infections.

Cancers of the white blood cells and solid tumours such as lymphoma cause 10-25% of FeLV deaths.

Anaemia and other blood cell abnormalities are very common in FeLV infected cats. Other FeLV-related diseases include abortion, fading kittens, diarrhoea, neurological or nervous system signs, and immune-mediated disease.

Around 80-90% of persistently FeLV-infected cats will die within 3.5 years of diagnosis.

How is the virus transmitted?

The virus is transmitted by direct contact between cats during grooming or sharing of litter trays and food bowls over a long period of time.

The virus is fragile and does not survive for long in the environment.

An infected queen passes the virus on to all her kittens if she carries them to term. However, this is uncommon as infection with FeLV usually causes infertility or abortion.

What happens when a cat is exposed to FeLV?

Not all cats exposed to FeLV go on to develop FeLV-related diseases. Most cats eliminate the virus from the body, although some remain latently infected for a few months before they  conquer the virus completely.

In cat colonies where the virus is endemic only 30% of cats are persistently infected with FeLV and go on to develop FeLV-related disease. These cats are responsible for the transmission of FeLV to other cats.

How do we diagnose FeLV?

A test at the surgery detects FeLV virus in the blood of a persistently infected cat.

A negative result is always negative. Your vet will assess the predictive value of a positive result by taking your cat’s environment, housemates and outside access into account.

Cats in the process of eliminating the virus will test positive. A second test performed 8-12 weeks after the first test confirms persistent infection.

Is there any treatment for FeLV infection?

There is no treatment that eliminates the virus from the body.

Infected cats should be desexed and confined indoors to prevent exposure to infectious agents and other cats.

Because FeLV-infected cats are more susceptible to disease, vaccination for the common viruses that cause cat flu and enteritis is very important.

We treat secondary infections and other problems like mouth ulcers as they arise.

Most FeLV-infected cats eventually die of their infection or we elect to euthanase them if they are suffering.

Can we prevent infection?

If possible do not house your cat with a known infected cat. Any new cat to the household should test negative for FeLV.

If all the cats in the house are FeLV negative, confinement indoors will prevent casual exposure to wandering cats with the virus.

Breeders may prevent FeLV infection by blood testing all cats and isolating infected individuals.

Vaccination of cats in contact with other infected or potentially infected cats is advisable. As with other vaccines, an initial course of two injections is required, and annual boosters are necessary to maintain immunity.