Caring for Cats
- All our staff are familiar with cats and their needs and the nurses and vets are trained in feline handling and behaviour.
- Segregated waiting area that is designed to enable cat carriers to be placed either under the seats (behind the owners legs), on adjacent seats or on a raised corner shelf.
- Clean towels are available at reception that can be used to cover wire cat carriers if so desired (thereby reducing close visual contact with other ‘unfamiliar’ cats)
- Dedicated area on the Reception counter for placement of carriers whilst client is booking in (avoids a possible face to face encounter with a dog that is “next in the queue”).
- Reception staff are very aware of the negative effects that a noisy dog in the waiting area can have on other patients and have a set up that can deal with this.
- Cats are provided with their own preoperative and post operative area and there is a dedicated ward for hospitalisation of cats
- All the aforementioned areas are provided with Feliway calming pheromone diffusers.
- Our Branch surgery in Leavesden has a session of “cat only” consultations.
- Home visits (discounted but require booking in advance) for routine procedures are available, which means the patient can be attended to in the comfort of its own environment.
- Membership of the International Society of Feline Medicine enables the practice to provide up to date information on feline diseases and have access to client information leaflets.
Here are some Park Veterinary Centre information sheets:
How to…Reduce the stress of bringing your cat to the vets
Why do cats dislike car travel?
Cats don’t like to leave their familiar territory. Unlike dogs, they are not really reassured by the presence of their owner. In a new environment, such as the car in this case, they cannot predict what might happen.
Cats may also be more sensitive to the movement of the car – their sense of balance is very acute, so the motion may not be pleasant to them, and they may not feel in control of the situation. The car will also sound and smell very strange.
Cats that experience car travel as young kittens, during the period between 2 and 7 weeks of age when they are most receptive to learning new things, tend to tolerate it much better.
Before your visit:
- Cat carriers provide safety for both you and your cat during transportation and often give a cat a sense of security by being hidden in a secure, closed container
- Your cat basket should be sturdy and escape proof, preferably with a top opening as this can make getting your cat in and out of the basket much less traumatic especially if fearful, fear aggressive, sick or painful, or if mobility problems – plastic coated wire baskets are ideal
- Try to make the basket “part of the furniture” at home – you can use the basket as a permanent bed or resting area, or just bring it out for a few days before a routine visit. Feeding your cat in the basket can help build a positive association with the basket
- Placing some of your clothing or the cat’s used bedding in the basket might help and in addition to this
there is a synthetic facial pheromone spray available (Feliway™, Ceva Animal Health) which can be sprayed on the cat’s bedding or into the basket 30 minutes before putting the cat in
- Have separate baskets for individual cats as stress can lead to defensive aggression. If your cats do get on well then you can place the baskets close together
- If you struggle to get your cat in through a front opening you can try taking the top half off, putting the cat in the bottom half and fastening the lid afterwards or gently reversing your cat in through the door
- Cats like to be able to hide so covering part of the basket with a towel or blanket can be useful
During the journey:
- Secure the basket in the footwell of the car behind the front seat or on the seat with a seatbelt. Ensure the carrier is level
- Putting a plastic bag/similar underneath the basket will help to protect your car should your cat have an accident along the way. Bringing a spare blanket/newspaper will also be beneficial in this case
- Allow plenty of time to enable you to drive calmly, and avoid loud noises. Talk quietly and reassuringly to your cat. Remember your cat may sense any tension that you have!
At the surgery:
- If concerned about noise/dogs in the reception area you may wish to wait with your cat in the car until called in by the vet or nurse. Please book in with a receptionist as normal and let them know you will be waiting outside. Alternatively you may use our admissions room should it be vacant
- Keep your cat at least partially covered and try to avoid putting your cat basket on the ground as cats tend to feel safer at a height
Caring for your senior cat
There are many changes associated with age and therefore our senior companions require some special attention. Cats are regarded as “senior” from 8 years old and we should be monitoring them carefully for any signs of deteriorating health.
Common health problems associated with increasing age are:
Chronic kidney disease, dental disease, arthritis, hyperthyroidism (over active thyroid gland), high blood pressure, cancer and diabetes.
Symptoms can include excessive thirst, reduced or increased appetite, disorientation, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhoea and poor coat condition.
Some general points to consider:
- There is often an increased water requirement due to reduced kidney function so loss of appetite may put elderly cats at serious risk of dehydration. A wet diet may be preferable and providing multiple water bowls, and sometimes a drinking fountain will encourage water intake. A senior food will be easier to digest and if your cat is diagnosed with kidney disease then a prescription kidney food will be the best way of maintaining kidney function
- Loss of muscle tone can result in an inability to run, jump and climb, reducing activity and therefore causing stiffness of joints. Signs of arthritis in cats can be subtle and whilst some cats will vocalise or try to bite or scratch when handled, others may become more withdrawn or just be reluctant to jump up or down. “Steps” up to a cat’s favourite chair or sofa can be helpful and providing an easily accessible, large, shallow litter tray could prevent unwanted accidents in the house. Relocating your cat’s bed to a draught free position and/or providing an extra microwaveable heat source eg Snuggle safe or radiator bed for an elderly cat may help to reduce joint stiffness
- Teeth problems are common and in addition reduced sense of taste and smell can result in loss of appetite. Warming food may encourage your cat to eat more
- Reduced vision and hearing can result in an easily startled cat and care should be taken to minimise changes within the home environment. High blood pressure may be the cause of sudden deterioration in sight
- Deterioration in bowel function can lead to reduced absorption of nutrients and weight loss and elderly cats may be more prone to
- Poor coat condition may be the result of the inability to groom due to arthritis or a painful mouth or secondary to underlying disease eg hyperthyroidism. Elderly cats often need help with grooming and special attention should be given to their nails which can start to grow into the pads and result in pain and infection Often there are multiple problems which can complicate diagnosis so early recognition of signs and prompt treatment could make a big difference to the quality and length of your cat’s
Our current recommendations for routine health monitoring:
For cats 8-10 years old
we recommend an annual vet examination (usually done as part of your cat’s routine vaccination), blood pressure measurement and analysis of a urine sample as a quick check of kidney function, urinary tract infection and diabetes
For cats 11-14 years old
we recommend a urine test and blood pressure measurement every 6 months and would discuss whether a senior blood profile is advisable at the annual vet examination.
Cats 15+ years old
would benefit from 6 monthly vet examinations, blood pressure measurement, urine testing and at least an annual senior blood profile.
Subsidised senior health check consultations
- on Wednesday and Thursday mornings at the main surgery at Cassiobury, and on Tuesday afternoons at our branch surgery at Katherine Place, Leavesden
- include: an examination by a vet, urine tests and a blood pressure measurement
- senior blood screen at reduced cost (vet will discuss whether blood test appropriate depending on the examination and/or any changes in appetite, thirst, weight )
If considering booking a consultation you may wish to bring a urine sample with you and you might consider not feeding your cat on the morning of the appointment if you think a blood test may be suggested. Please ask at reception for any further information you may require.
How old is my cat?
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Above courtesy of ICC 2009
Kitten Information Sheet
Can be started from 9 weeks of age. The initial course is 2 injections 3 – 4 weeks apart with your kitten being fully protected 2 weeks after the second vaccination. After this, vaccinations must be kept up to date with a yearly booster. We strongly advise the Leukaemia vaccine for outdoor cats
This should be done every 2 weeks until 12 weeks of age. Then monthly till 6 months old. Adults should be wormed at least every 3 months. Cats that hunt a lot may require worming monthly.
The only way to prevent flea infestation is regular use of flea products. Our staff will be happy to advise you on appropriate products.
Males: from 6 months of age onwards and should be 2kg or more.
Females: from 6 months of age (beware they can come into season before this age especially in the spring/summer) and should be 2kg or more.
We would strongly recommend pet insurance. There are many companies offering insurance. Due to FSA regulations we cannot recommend particular insurance policies, all we would say is read the small print carefully.
This is a small electronic chip that is inserted under the skin to provide details of your pet’s identity should they go missing. The implantation procedure is simple and relatively painless and can be done during a single consultation from the 2nd vaccination onwards, but is offered at a reduced fee if done whilst under an anaesthetic (i.e. at neutering).
CAT NEUTERING – CLIENT INFORMATION SHEET
The current age recommended for neutering both male and female cats is 4-5 months old providing that they are over 2kg in body weight. There are many advantages of neutering in cats:
Having a male cat neutered (castrated) involves having both testicles removed under general anaesthetic. Advantages can be a decrease in sexual behaviour, territorial urine marking, less inclination to roam and therefore much less likelihood of being involved in road traffic accidents.
Letting younger male cats outside prior to neutering puts them at much higher risk of being attacked by larger male cats in the neighbourhood, due to their small size and entire status.
Unneutered males have more of an inclination to be involved in cat fights, the injuries from which have a range of severities and most respond well to symptomatic medical treatment. The problem of most concern is that the cat may contract FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus – the feline equivalent of AIDS) and FeLV (feline leukaemia virus) from other male unneutered cats.
Both of these conditions affect the immune system and have several consequences. They can lead to an early death. FeLV can be vaccinated against in the recommended kitten vaccinations for outdoor cats; there is no vaccination currently against FIV. If an older stray cat is coming in for neutering and vaccinations, we recommend a simple blood test which takes about 30 minutes to run to see if the cat has contracted FIV/FeLV so that the appropriate precautions can be undertaken for the rest of the cat’s life.
There is a strong argument for having a female cat neutered (speyed). Speying involves removal of both ovaries and the womb (uterus) under general anaesthetic. The most common reason for speying is to prevent unwanted litters. Cats are induced ovulators, which means that as soon as unneutered females is mated, an egg is released and she has a very high chance of becoming pregnant.
Recent studies have shown that 8 out of 10 litters are unplanned and many of these are from female cats under 6 months of age. This unfortunately results in approximately 250,000 unwanted cats each year entering rescue centres.
Disadvantages of neutering in both sexes:
Research has not given definitive answers but there is some suggestion that neutering may contribute to obesity and some suggestion that cats may be ‘shyer’ following neutering at a young age.
All anaesthetics and surgical procedures carry some risks. If you have any further questions please feel free to ask a member of staff.
Signs your pet is stressed
Stress is a reaction in our minds and bodies which we experience when we feel overwhelmed by problems and difficulties. Too much stress can have adverse effects on our pets as well as ourselves!
There are many possible causes of stress for our pets including loud noises, pain, separation from owners, other animals inside or outside the house, excessive handling e.g. to administer medication or extra cuddles from children.
Signs of stress in animals can range from subtle
e.g. lip licking, yawning, paw lifting (dogs), withdrawal/hiding behaviour, lowered body posture, flattened ears to the more obvious
e.g. excessive grooming causing bald patches, inappropriate urination or defaecation, aggression, (horizontal) scratching (cats) or general destructive behaviour (dogs)