Information for your cat
Health is not merely the absence of sickness, it is the gleam in the eye, the shine on the coat, and the delight in the pounce. True health care is extremely important to us, and starts with a preventative program that encompasses both the physical and mental health of your cat.
Caring for your cat
The Annual Health Check
The foundation of our health care program is the annual health check. During this visit, we give your cat a complete examination from head to tail including checking their dental health. We also discuss your cat’s body condition, diet, parasite prevention, behaviour and health concerns and any other questions you may have.
When your cat becomes senior (usually at about 8-10 years old), regular blood, urine and blood pressure checks are recommended. By screening for hidden disease, we can treat it earlier leading to better and more complete management of the disease, lower costs and better quality of life for your pet. These screening tests are recommended by the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM).
Cats on our pet health plan receive two health checks each year, and further testing is available at a supplement on our health plans.
We recommend kitten vaccination at 8, 12 and 16 weeks. The 16w booster is important as a few kittens may not respond to the earlier finish, leaving them vulnerable for the first year of their life. We feel that the 16 week vaccination is so important that we offer it free of charge. We recommend that all kittens are given feline leukaemia vaccination in addition to standard flu and enteritis vaccinations, in keeping with ISFM recommended protocols.
Cats are then given an annual examination each year, and at this annual examination, we will determine your cat’s vaccine requirements each year. Indoor cats will need flu and enteritis every 1-3 years depending on their risk profile. Outdoor cats and 1 year old cats (indoor and outdoor) should also have FeLV vaccination annually.
We believe strongly in appropriate vaccination, so animals are only given the vaccinations they require, according to their lifestyle and proven duration of immunity for each vaccine.
There are some cats who may require additional vaccinations depending on their lifestyle or whether they travel. For instance, we offer Rabies vaccination vaccination for travelling cats. Breeding cats may need additional vaccinations.
Flea and Tick Treating
We recommend regular flea and tick prevention to prevent discomfort and transmission of disease. It is important that flea prevention is kept up year round as fleas love living indoors with central heating! Fleas are one of the most important causes of itching in pets and can transmit tapeworm to your cat.
Ticks are not common in Fulham and surrounding areas, but we have seen heavy infestations in cats that travel (either to the countryside or abroad), so any travelling cat should also be treated for ticks.
There are a number of prescription flea products which have been released in recent years and have been proven to be significantly more effective than over the counter products or older prescription products. This includes a product which only needs to be given every 3 months. Please ask us for more information when you visit.
Your cat needs regular worming to keep it healthy, and we unfortunately do see disease from intestinal worms in kittens and cats which have not been wormed, or where some over-the-counter products have been used.
Therefore it is very important that kittens are wormed every 2 weeks until they are 12 weeks old, then every month until 6 months old. Thereafter, the frequency depends on the lifestyle of your cat, but outdoor cats that may hunt should be wormed monthly.
Luckily we can provide a top spot monthly treatment which controls fleas, ticks and worms in one easy dose, or if you prefer a tablet, we have small tablets which we can help you administer.
We believe that nutrition is one of the most important things you can do to ensure that your cat is healthy. A good diet is complete with all the essential nutrients that your cat needs. It is highly digestible, so that you minimise the work cleaning the litter tray! Taste is also important so that your cat enjoys what they eat.
Molly & Max is an approved weight management centre, and we are highly committed to helping your cat to maintain a healthy body weight for optimum health. Cats who are of correct body weight are more active and have a better quality of life. Cats who are have a healthy body weight are at much lower risk of disease such as diabetes, urinary tract/ bladder disease, arthritis, cancer and other diseases. As part of our commitment to ideal body weight, we recommend that cat food is actually weighed on a daily basis (or your can weigh an entire week’s ration, in individual portions). Most cats do enjoy ‘snacking’ rather than eating whole meals at a time, but you can still control the overall amount that your cat eats to maintain a healthy body weight.
Although there is no diet that is perfect for every cat, we believe strongly in feeding (as a first choice) a high quality commercial pet food. These diets have had a great deal of research into the nutritional benefits and you can be certain that every nutrient that your cat needs is in the diet. In particular, cats are obligate carnivores and also have very specific requirements for a number of amino acids, so a balanced diet is vital for cats.
We do recommend that cats are fed in interactive feeders rather than in bowls, as do veterinary behaviourists, as this helps stimulate the mind and mimic a cat’s natural instincts to hunt. It is also proven to help reduce body weight.
We can help you to start your kitten on an excellent diet from the very beginning. We can also help with advice on diet for adult cats, including both commercial (dry and wet) and raw feeding.
We recommend neutering for all cats at 4 months old, as per the recommendations of both the ISFM and all major animal charities in the UK. When done prior to puberty, the operation is less invasive and recovery is faster.
Neutering has a number of health benefits for your cat in the long term and helps prevent unwanted pregnancies. The number of unwanted kittens in the UK each year is staggering, so we believe that neutering your cat is part of responsible cat ownership. The benefits of neutering include:
- prevention of pyometra (infection of the uterus)
- prevention of mammary cancer (which is very aggressive in cats)
- prevention of pregnancy
- queens (female cats) do not come into heat, which can be distressing to both cats and their owners due to excessive vocalisation and restlessness. Queens will come into heat every 3 weeks during the breeding season.
- reduction in spraying and inappropriate urination in the house (although it will not eliminate the risk).
- prevention of fighting in tomcats in particular.
- prevention of the very strong smell of most tomcats.
- reduction in roaming, which can be a risk factor for traffic accidents.
At Molly & Max, we do a midline spay which we feel is not only the safer way to spay, but is also visually more appealing, especially in colour point breeds.
Cats’ mental wellbeing is incredibly important both for their own welfare and to help prevent unwanted behaviours such as urinating in the house/ spraying or unwanted aggression.
It has been determined that cats have behavioural needs that must be met in order to prevent stress and anxiety in cats. These needs include:
- Providing a safe haven for your cat- somewhere for your cat to escape to when she is disturbed or scared.
- Providing multiple and separated key environmental resources (ie. food, water, litter trays, play areas, scratching areas and rest areas). For example, food and water should be separated, and ideally provided in more than one place in your home.
- Providing opportunity for play and hunting behaviour (eg. play sessions daily, puzzle feeders, and/or opportunity to go outside)
- Providing positive, consistent and predictable human interaction so that your cat knows what to expect from the people in his life (when and how much attention) and feels good about it.
- Providing an environment that respects a cat sense of smell- ie. removing noxious smells such as soiled litter but also realising that cats need familiar smells in their environment so over-zealous cleaning, especially with strong smelling cleaning products, can also be stressful.
There is more information on these elements on the ISFM website (which is excellent) and in our blog. Please ask us for more information.
We highly recommend pet insurance for all cats to help cover the cost should they become sick or injure themselves. At Molly & Max Veterinary Practice, our staff all insure our own pets.
The cost of treatment can be expensive. At Molly and Max we offer the finest service with experienced staff, and the latest facilities and equipment to ensure that if your pet is sick we can reach a diagnosis quickly and provide the necessary treatment. In addition, at times it is necessary to refer pets to specialists, which usually costs thousands of pounds.
We recommend Agria insurance, which we feel has a good balance between excellent cover and good value.
We always recommend life-time policies, as chronic (ie. long-term) conditions are common and often result in large cumulative bills.
We recommend starting insurance as soon as you acquire your kitten or cat, and we can provide you with 5 weeks free insurance once we have given your kitten (or cat under 18 months old) its first health check. If your adult cat is not yet insured, we would also recommend starting insurance, even if there are one or two conditions which are pre-existing (and therefore excluded).
It is particularly important to note that there a large number of diseases that affect indoor cats as much or even more often than outdoor cats. Also when cats become ill, they tend to hide the symptoms, so getting to the cause of the problem can require more involved testing than for dogs. In addition, cats often develop diseases that are ongoing and therefore need treatment long term. For these reasons, we recommend that all cats, both indoor and outdoor, are covered by pet insurance.