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Advice on looking after your cat

Dental Care

Dental disease is a very common problem in both young and old cats. It is thought that as many as 85% of cats aged three years and older have some sort of dental disease. Dental disease tends to be more common and be more severe as cats get older. Dental disease in cats is commonly associated with the accumulation of dental plaque and tartar formation. This can result in what is termed 'periodontal disease'.


Plaque is a complex film of bacteria that develops on the surface of teeth. As the plaque layer grows and becomes thicker, it can often be seen as a soft, grey or white film on the tooth surface. Plaque is important because it is the most common underlying cause of dental disease. Taking measures to help reduce dental plaque development is therefore an important step in trying to prevent dental disease in cats.


If plaque is left undisturbed, it can become hardened due to deposition of substances such as calcium in the plaque layer. Hard, calcified plaque is known as dental 'tartar' or 'calculus'. Tartar is clearly visible and looks like a cream/yellow or brown hard deposit on the tooth surface. In severe cases, a large amount of tartar can develop on the surface of the tooth. Tartar, because it is so hard, cannot usually be removed by simple measures such as brushing the teeth, and dental scaling performed by your veterinary surgeon under an anaesthetic is usually required to remove it.

Frequency of examination

Cats should ideally have their teeth examined by a vet at least once every 12 months, and cats that have had dental problems should be examined once every 6 months depending on their condition. Generally, the sooner the problem is identified, the easier and quicker it is to treat. Even if the cat's mouth is being examined every day, dental disease will develop and gradually progress. Cats will quite often not show clinical signs until the disease is advanced by which time many teeth may need to be extracted.

Dental disease is a common problem that is seen in cats, but can be easily prevented. To prevent dental disease, it is important to introduce brushing at early age so kittens are used to having their teeth brushed. There are many different dental products available from toothbrushes, finger brushes, pastes and specialised diets. These all help to ensure a healthy mouth and happy cat! Dental disease can be a source of bacteria & toxins which can travel via the blood and affect the kidneys and heart.

Flea Treatment

Fleas can affect any kitten or cat. They can be treated to prevent flea infestations. Fleas breed throughout the year in centrally heated homes, so it is important to maintain flea control all year round. If your cat goes outside, it is important to ensure it is treated for more than just fleas, as they are at increased risk of other parasites. Cats can be affected by ticks also particularly if they spend time outdoors.

Fleas can be uncomfortable, severe infestations can cause allergies, disease and even anaemia. We recommend treating monthly as fleas can even occur during the winter period. This is better than waiting until you have a flea infestation as you will have to treat your home – causing more hassle and expense to you the owner.

You can carry out a flea check easily at home. This is done by combing your puppy or dogs fur over a white piece of paper, then dab this with a dampened piece of tissue. If it is a red or brown colour, then this is flea dirt, which indicates the presence of fleas.

The life cycle from an egg to an adult flea is complete in 12 - 22 days when conditions are ideal. Only 5% of flea infestation is made up of adult fleas on your pet. 95% is in your home as eggs, larvae and pupae. If your pet gets infested by fleas, it is important that you treat the environment, this includes the house and any cars your pets have been in.

Tapeworm (Dipylidium caninum) is transmitted to cats by fleas. The immature flea larvae ingest the eggs of the tapeworm. Infection is then passed on to a cat when it swallows an infected flea during grooming. It should be assumed that any cat infected with fleas also has Dipylidium caninum (and vice versa).

There are lots of different products to prevent against Fleas, to find out what treatment best suits your cat’s lifestyle please do not hesitate to contact the surgery for advice.


It is important to introduce this at a young age to ensure your kitten’s healthy coat is maintained and to develop the animal owner bond. By grooming your pet daily, it allows your cat to get used to being handled and lets you examine their ears, mouth and paws daily and alerts you to any problems that may have developed. It is particularly important to maintain daily grooming in long haired cat breeds, as these breeds are prone to developing matts – which can become uncomfortable and painful for them.

Brush types


  • Flea comb - for the removal of fleas, dirt and eggs.
  • Moulting comb - for the removal of tangles and dead undercoat.
  • Dematting comb - designed to split and separate mats.
  • Rake comb - pulls out matted and dead undercoat. Suitable for breeds with thick coats.


  • Rubber brushes e.g. ‘zoom groom’.
  • Pin brush - as above, suitable for most long haired breeds.
  • Soft bristle brush - to distribute natural oils from the skin's surface to the ends of the hair shaft.
  • Slicker brush - for pulling out dead hair and breaking down matts. Suitable for long haired breeds.
  • Grooming mitt- for the removal of dead hair and polishing the outer coat. Suitable for short-coated breeds.


We recommend to get your cat insured as it gives you piece of mind, so that you don’t need to worry about veterinary bills when your pet is injured or ill.

There are many different pet insurance companies available. It is important to be aware of different policies that they offer. It is advised to purchase a lifetime policy in comparison to a yearly policy as your pet should be covered for its lifetime for a certain condition instead of the one year.

Please seek advice from a veterinary professional before changing insurance companies, (i.e. premium prices have increased) particularly if your pet has an ongoing condition or had any previous claims on the policy – as these conditions may be excluded on your new policy and therefore not covered by your new pet insurance. We would be happy to offer you advice on the subject, so please do not hesitate to contact us to speak to one of our friendly staff.

Petplan is the current market leader and is a pet only insurance company. It is always important always read the small print on your policy!


Microchipping is a permanent method of identification for your cat. The microchip is the size of a grain of rice and inserted under the skin, between the shoulder blades. Each chip contains a unique number, which has the animal & owners contact details assigned to it.

We would recommend that you have your cat microchipped particularly if your cat goes outdoors. To arrange an appointment with a veterinary nurse you can either contact the surgery, or click here to book online.


We advise all cats to be neutered, unless they are intended for breeding. Neutering prevents many problems:

  • Unwanted litters
  • Prevents spraying
  • Stress of being in season for female cats
  • Prevents unwanted behaviour in males – aggression etc.

We would advise that both male and female cats can be neutered from 6 months of age.

The male cat’s procedure is known as castration. This involves the removal of the testicles. It is a relatively straight forward procedure and no stitches are involved.

In female cats it is called an ovariohysterectomy or “spaying”. It is the removal of the ovaries and uterus. This is the usual treatment for diseases such as pyometra, ovarian cysts, uterine torsion or prolapse. Neutering in the early stages of life will prevent these problems occurring. The procedure can be performed either on the flank or midline.

It is important to note that once cats are neutered, they can be at risk of weight gain, so their diet will need to be adjusted accordingly.


Kittens are vaccinated at 9 weeks of age and then receive a second vaccination at 12 weeks of age. Then thereafter, receive a yearly booster vaccination. Having a yearly vaccination allows to maintain immunity against diseases, and they receive a full health check which allows us to detect any health problems early on.

The vaccinations cover against many infectious diseases:

  1. Cat Flu
  2. Feline Infectious Enteritis
  3. Feline Leukaemia Virus

Feline Herpesvirus (FHV) and Feline Calici virus (FCV) 'Cat Flu'

These are two different viruses which are often grouped as ‘cat flu’ because together they cause the majority of upper respiratory tract infections in cats. They are both contagious and usually transmitted by direct or close contact between cats. (e.g discharge from eyes) They may also survive for short periods of time in the environment, so could be transmitted via shared food bowls, litter trays, bedding or grooming aids.

Cat flu signs include:

  • Sneezing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Eye discharge
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Mouth ulcers

Clinical signs vary from mild to extremely severe, and occasionally other complications may develop such as pneumonia. With FHV, even after the initial signs subside, most cats will remain permanently infected and will develop flare ups later on especially when their immune system is low or if they become stressed.

Both of these viruses are extremely common in our cat population and the disease can be severe which is why vaccination is considered important for all cats. Although vaccination does not always prevent infection with these viruses, it will help greatly in reducing the severity of disease.

Feline Infectious Enteritis (Feline Parvovirus, Panleukopenia virus)

Feline Infectious Enteritis is a highly contagious disease, which can be spread through bodily fluids, faeces and fleas. It can also be spread by contaminated items such as food bowls, bedding, floors and contact by hands. Unfortunately, this virus is able to survive for up to several years in the environment and is resistant to many disinfectants.

Cats suffering from the disease will experience sudden vomiting and diarrhoea which is often bloody. Pregnant cats with the virus can pass it onto their unborn kittens, which can affect their brain development and cause mobility problems once born. Infection carries a very high mortality rate, particularly in unvaccinated kittens. We advise all cats and kittens should be vaccinated against this virus as it is much better prevented than treated.

Feline Leukaemia (FeLV)

This virus attacks the immune system and leaves cats more susceptible to infection and illness as well as prone to developing certain cancers. The disease can be transmitted from other infected cats by mutual grooming, sharing food and water, bites from infected cats or passed on from a queen to her kittens.

During early stages of the disease, cats may not show any signs of illness, but as the disease progresses you may notice the following clinical symptoms:

  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy and other poor health including
  • Pale gums
  • Poor coat
  • Fever
  • Diarrhoea  
  • Recurrent respiratory tract infections

Infected cats will progressively deteriorate over time. Sadly there is no specific treatment for this virus. Secondary infections are common due to the destructive nature of the disease on the immune system so treatment will be focused on relieving the cat from pain and discomfort. Any cat that tests positive for FeLV should be isolated from other cats and kept indoors to prevent transmission.

You should receive a vaccination card at your kitten or new cat’s first vaccine, it is important to bring this with you every time a vaccination is administered in order to keep it up to date. If your cat is boarding at a cattery, it will require an up to date vaccination card.


The most common intestinal worms cats get are called roundworms and tapeworms. Most infected cats do not show signs of having worms, however, heavy burdens of worms can cause weight loss, vomiting and diarrhoea, failure to thrive and irritation around the anus.

Importantly, while worms can sometimes cause problems for the cat itself, some worms can also be passed on to humans and on rare occasions can be a cause of serious human disease. For these reasons, regular treatment of cats and kittens to prevent or eliminate worms is very important.

Types of worms


Intestinal roundworms are the most common intestinal parasites in cats and occur in cats of all ages. The two common roundworms of cats are called, Toxocara cati and Toxascaris leonina. Eggs from these worms are passed in the faeces and can remain viable in the environment for several years. These eggs can infect other cats in two ways. First, a cat may ingest (eat) the eggs directly from a contaminated environment. Second, if another animal eats the eggs (e.g. a mouse or rat), these can act as ‘intermediate hosts’ and pass on the infection to a cat if it scavenges the infected intermediate host.

Toxocara cati is also passed from pregnant cats to kittens through the milk she produces. Whenever a cat is infected with roundworms, some immature forms (larvae) remain dormant in tissues in the body. This is a very common route of infection and we should assume that every kitten will be infected with Toxocara cati as a result.


Tapeworms are generally long flat worms composed of many segments. Mature segments containing eggs are released from the end of the tapeworm and are passed in the faeces. These segments often resemble grains of rice and can sometimes be seen on the hair around the anus of the cat, in the faeces and on the cat's bed.

To complete their life-cycle, all tapeworms require an intermediate host to first eat the eggs from the environment, and then the cat will become infected by eating the intermediate host. Animals that act as intermediate hosts vary depending on the species of tapeworm. The most common tapeworms that infect cats are Dipylidium caninum and Taenia taeniaeformis.

Dipylidium caninum is transmitted to cats by fleas. The immature fleas larvae ingest the eggs of the worm, but infection is then passed on to a cat when it swallows an infected flea during grooming. It should be assumed that any cat infected with fleas also has Dipylidium caninum (and vice versa).

Taenia taeniaeformis is passed on when they eat small rodents (rats and mice), the rodents having eaten eggs from the environment. This infection occurs very commonly in cats that hunt.

Worming your cat

Your kitten should be wormed at 8, 10 & 12 weeks of age. There after every month, until 6 months then every 3 months. If your cat is a hunter, you should worm on a 4-6 week basis as they are at an increased risk. There are many different products available for your cat, depending on you and your cat’s lifestyle, please contact the practice and a member of staff can advise you what product would suit your cat’s lifestyle best.

If you require any further information or advice, please do not hesitate to contact the practice and speak to one of our staff. Alternatively, you can now book an appointment online.