CAT HEALTH

Cat Health

When it comes to personal hygiene, cats are the epitome of cleanliness. They are naturally equipped with everything they need to clean themselves.

But no matter what age, there are still plenty of things you can do to help your cat maintain optimum health.

Vaccinations come with added benefits to you cat's health

Vaccinations are such an important part of maintaining a healthy, disease free lifestyle for your cat. Often the infections that cats contract can be easily avoided by following the standard vaccination programme co-ordinated by your vet.

Vaccinations are a necessity when it comes to your cats health as they stimulate and promote immunity, enabling your pcat to fight off infections. As a cat owner you will need to visit your veterinarian with your cat for a series of general vaccinations over a specified period of time. Primary vaccinations for kittens will generally be at 6, 12 and 16 weeks. Boosters are also required in the later stages of life to ensure levels of resistance to infection are maintained.

When your cat has been vaccinated by a veterinarian you will be issued with a vaccination certificate. This will show what vaccinations have been administered and when the next one is due. It is very straight forward and easy to understand so always remember vaccination means eradication and these will help maintain your cat's health.

Loving the brush

A coat brush a day keeps the tangles away. It's essential to start grooming your kitten as soon as you can - especially if he or she has long hair. Short haired cats can groom themselves, but may need a little extra help during moulting season (spring into summer).

Regular grooming helps your cat's skin stay healthy and keeps their coat shiny. Grooming also gives you the opportunity to check for signs that he or she might be unwell. (If you find anything unusual, visit your vet immediately). Start grooming very gently and little by little they'll learn to love the sensation of the brush in their fur.

If your cat decides not to cooperate during grooming, let him or her relax by playing and sniffing the brush or comb first. Begin grooming very gently from the head and work your way down.

OPTIMUM™ Dry Cat Food products can help keep your cat's skin and coat looking beautiful and in peak condition.

The importance of grooming

As well as keeping your cat looking good, regular grooming is important in reducing furballs. Furballs occur when your cat ingests loose hair while grooming itself and the hair compacts with undigested food, causing an obstruction in the stomach or digestive tract.

To help reduce the formation of furballs, you should regularly brush your cat thoroughly, removing any loose hair and disposing of it. This is important for the health of both short and long-haired cats. As well as keeping your cat happier and healthier, brushing will also mean less vacuuming!

Older cats are also more at risk as their digestive system is slower and they are more likely to get blockages. Although furballs are an issue for all cats, long haired breeds have more problems, especially during spring and autumn, when they shed more hair.

Furball prevention

If you find it distressing to hear your cat coughing up a furball, then imagine what it's like for your cat. This is why regular grooming is important: it reduces furballs and it means less vacuuming for you. When cats groom themselves, they ingest loose hair, which compacts, causing an obstruction in the stomach or digestive tract. Also, cats with tangled fur or fleas lick more, thus consuming more furball-inducing loose hair.

OPTIMUM™ Furball Formula can help with furball management, click here for more information.

Fleas and your cat

Flea control is very important when it comes to our furry friends. Both cats and dogs can experience the annoyance and discomfort of these tiny pests.

Firstly, preventions are available at most Supermarkets and vet clinics. Exelpet® provides a range of products suitable for the prevention and treatment of fleas (for more information visit www.exelpet.com.au. And secondly, once you've got them, you need to tackle them in two ways:

- Fleas must be controlled on your pet

- Fleas must be controlled in your pets environment

Killing just the adult fleas and not the eggs will not do the trick as they will grow and you will still have an annoying flea problem! Visit your local veterinarian or www.exelpet.com.au for more information on how to go about controlling fleas in your home and on your pet.

Clipping claws

The first time your cat's claws need clipping, take him or her to the vet and ask them to show you how it's done. Then when you're confident to do it yourself, spend time playing with your cat's paws so they get used to the feel of your hands.

Clip claws about once a month (or on vet's advice) using proper cat claw clippers (available at good pet stores). A scratching post will help keep their claws in good repair and minimise the risk of them becoming torn or ragged.

Good oral hygiene

Like humans, maintaining good oral hygiene for cats is an important factor of good health.OPTIMUM™ Oral Care has been designed to help reduce the build up of plaque and tartar, promoting healthy teeth and gums. The mechanical action of chewing the specifically designed kibble, in combination with the active ingredient (sodium tripolyphosphate) promotes good oral hygiene.

Sodium tripolyphosphate is a mineral based ingredient that binds the calcium present in saliva and reduces the formation of tartar on the tooth surface. The calcium is then carried to the stomach for digestion.

Click here to read more about OPTIMUM™ Oral Care.

Dental health in ageing cats

As your cat ages, the likelihood of dental problems increases and so good dental health is imperative in keeping your cat happy and healthy. Tartar build-up, gingivitis and periodontal disease can hinder eating and cause pain and bad breath in older cats.

If your cat has dental problems, it may lose its appetite and so you should be alert to any changes in its eating habits. If your aging cat will accept it, regular brushing of its teeth is recommended and all older cats should have routine dental checks.

Microchipping

Microchipping is becoming more and more popular as a permanent and effective way of identifying domestic cats and dogs. In the painless procedure, your vet implants a tiny microchip, the size of a grain of rice, under your cat's skin. The microchip holds unique information about your cat and, should it go missing, the chip can be used to trace your cat back to a central animal registry.

So effective is this method of identification that in some Australian states it is compulsory.
Check with your vet or local council about your obligations as a cat owner.

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) is a really serious disease that affects cat health. FLUTD attacks the lower urinary system and bladder, causing extreme pain and discomfort. There are 3 different forms of FLUTD:

- Cystitis: Irritation of the bladder

- Urinary stones/crystals

- Urethral obstruction (obstruction of the urethra)

FLUTD affects male cats more so than female cats as their urethra is smaller (a urethra is the tube that carries urine out of the body). Symptoms that you will notice when your cats has FLUTD include straining to urinate, blood in the urine, increased frequency of urination, cries from you puss in the litter box and urinating in random places around your home.

It is an extremely painful ordeal for them to go through. It is classed as a medical emergency and must be treated immediately. Quite often cats will come in to the clinic for treatment, and after returning home will be back in the clinic within days. Sometimes, (and it is quite common for this to happen) the cats urethra will become blocked again.

Your cat may need to be on a prescription diet for the rest of its life. These special diets try to combat any infection from returning. Your vet will more than likely tell you about these diets and give you all relevant instructions for a case like this.

The OPTIMUM™ Dry Cat Food range helps to protect your cat from FLUTD.

The nutritional requirements of your cat

As we all know, nutrition is a very important factor when it comes to keeping your cat healthy. Their complex bodies require certain things to be able to perform general everyday tasks. Just like us, cats need plenty of food and water, but it's what is in their food that counts. The most part of a cats' diet is protein. Protein supplies them with amino acids. Amino acids are needed in order for the body to manufacture antibodies, enzymes, tissues and a proper PH balance. Protein is found in foods such as meat and fish so it is ideal to give your cat meals that contain ingredients such as these. Fat is also required in your cats diet as it gives them an energy source for all that climbing and running around they do!

Along with fat and protein, minerals and vitamins also play a big part in their diet. Minerals and vitamins go hand in hand with having a healthy body so make sure that you pick out a good quality cat food that has all of the nutrients your cat requires. It's also a great idea to feed dry food as it keeps their teeth healthy and hopefully gets rid of any built up tartar! If you have any concerns or questions regarding nutritional requirements for cats, make an appointment with your vet to obtain a greater insight on this topic.

To find out more about the importance of protein in your cat's diet, click here.

 

DR. CHRIS BROWN

Sign up to receive updates from OPTIMUM™ and brand ambassador, Dr Chris Brown.

Chris Brown