From the mild, to the life threatening, just like their canine counterparts, cats can be susceptible to diseases, viruses, infections, and other conditions. It’s important to be aware of the viruses and conditions that can affect cats in general, or are breed specific. Being well informed is only part of the story, as it’s also important to follow a vaccination schedule during your cats life, to help prevent them from developing any of these problems.
Vaccinations may not be 100% foolproof, in cases of maximum exposure, but even if they don’t prevent infection, they can reduce the effects, and help prevent the spread of infection to other felines. A cat’s vaccination schedule normally begins when they are a young kitten, to help stimulate a strong immune system. Two injections at 9 weeks of age, and a second vaccination 4 weeks later, will be followed with booster injections to help your cat maintain resistance. The type and number of injections your cat has, will depend on manufacturers guidelines, and the risk to your cat.
Cat vaccines are grouped into core and non-core vaccinations. Core vaccines are those that vets recommend are given to all cats, while non-core vaccinations are given if the vet determines there is a risk of them developing certain conditions. Core vaccinations given in the UK include those for the highly contagious Feline Parvovirus, Feline Calici Virus, which causes Cat Flu, and Feline Herpes Virus. The non-core vaccinations available include Feline Leukaemia, Bordetella Infection, and Rabies Virus.
Hopefully , keeping up with vaccinations will ensure your cat leads a happy healthy life, but it’s always useful to be aware of the symptoms that could be a sign of a virus or other condition. Symptoms will vary depending on what your cat has contracted, but if you see signs of flu, ulcers, loss of appetite, vomiting, and/or fever, then you should visit the vet immediately.
Vaccinations are also important if you board your cat in a cattery. All reputable establishments will insist on your cat having up-to-date vaccinations for health and safety reasons. The same applies if you are taking your cat abroad, as some vaccinations will be a requirement of the ‘Pet Travel Scheme’.
Information about the diseases and conditions that could affect your cat (s) does not make for pleasant reading, and reality is much worse. So make sure you vaccinate your cats and keep them as healthy as possible.
Worms In Cats
In 2008 industry journal ‘The Veterinary Record’ released results of a study, which took samples of soil in parks and public areas. The study found that 20.4% of the soil samples were contaminated with worm eggs. Worms are everywhere, but they are not just wriggly things your children dig up in the garden. Worms can infect cats, cause disease, be passed on to humans, and in some cases can be fatal.
You’ll probably have heard of roundworm and tapeworm, and it’s these two types that vets suggest you treat against, with various worming products. There’s also hookworm, whipworm, and heartworm, all of which could potentially infect cats.
All cats are at risk from worms, although this risk can differ slightly depending on whether you have an outdoor or indoor cat, a kitten or older cat, and each type of worm comes with a differing risk too. Your cat or kitten could be infected through contact with soil and grass, by eating raw meat or faeces, scavenging, or through catching fleas, which can act as hosts for worm eggs. It’s vitally important that you set up a worming programme with your vet to help prevent infestations.
One of the main problems with worms, is that they are notoriously hard to spot, and even a happy, supposedly healthy cat could be infected. That said, you may still spot signs, such as weight loss, dry coarse fur, swollen abdomen, anaemia, and you may even spot worms in your cats poo. Let’s briefly run through what roundworms and tapeworms are, and what you should look out for:
Roundworms: These worms end up living in intestines, after your cat has eaten worm eggs that are in the soil. Kittens can also have roundworms passed onto them in the worm, or if they are suckling milk. The cat’s age and lifestyle (i.e outdoor or indoor cat) could affect the risk of infection. Humans could carry roundworms into the house on their shoes.
Tapeworms: Fairly large worms that can be seen in and around pets faces and their bottoms, or as a sticky mass on carpets. There are 3 different types of tapeworm, and cats can be infected by two of these types. One worm can be caught from fleas, which they may eat while grooming, and the other from scavenging, eating raw meat, or hunting infected rodents. Tapeworms can also cause serious disease, and death in humans if left untreated. Treat your pets for fleas, as well as worms regularly, and this will go a long way to reducing the risk of infection.