Adult Cat Wellness (1 year to 10 years)
1. Annual Veterinary consultation and examination.
Our focus for the annual consultation is on the physical exam. Everything branches from that. We give your cat a full physical examination covering all the body systems from eyes and ears to tail. We record the kitty’s history, update the patient’s file, listen to your concerns and answer your questions regarding any problems you’re having with your pet.
We have a check list to make sure we cover all areas. You will need to book another appointment for behavioural problems, because they take a lot of time to collect a detailed history, get the behavioural diagnosis and discuss behavioural modification and therapies. For this period in a cat’s life, once per year is adequate, but in the senior and geriatric years ,or if your pet’s on chronic medications, then twice a year consultations are preferred.
2. Vaccine Boosters
PRC (panleukopenia [parvo], rhinotracheitis [herpes] and calicivirus)
L (feline leukemia virus) –last booster for indoor cats at the first annual exam.
R (Rabies) – 1 year non- adjuvant rabies
*outdoor cats add –L (Feline Leukemia)
– A (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus)
– R (Rabies, 3 year non- aluminum adjuvant vaccine or the 1 year non- adjuvant vaccine)
Rabies is required by law mainly to protect the public. This is a reportable, federally regulated disease that is lethal. It is also expensive to treat post rabies exposure in people
Once the Rabies is boostered at the first annual exam it is good for 3 years if it is the 3 year product. If it is the 1 year product and the cat stays indoors, we can discuss skipping years off-label, but this may not be consistent with local by-laws regarding rabies. Rabies certificates will specify only what the product’s duration is licenced and approved for.
We believe at Beechwood Animal Hospital to tailor and balance the amount of vaccines given to a pet in relation to the risk the patient has in acquiring the illness, and the academic known or believed duration of action of a vaccine (rather than the labeled duration). As such we commonly prefer to cycle vaccines to 2- 3 years or more duration, once they have been properly boostered as a kitten and then re-boostered 1 year later. We prefer to cycle individual vaccines so they don’t have to be given on the same year. Your cat hopefully will only get 1 vaccine a year versus multiple injections. That is, PRC one year, L the next, only a check up one year, Rabies the next etc., modified to a particular patient.
If your cat has not been vaccinated with a kitten series, then the boostering is different for any cat over 12-13 weeks of age. Recently, vaccine guidelines have suggested the PRC does not need to be boostered 3-4 weeks later if it is a modified live vaccine. It should be boostered 1 year later and then rotated as suggested above. For outdoor access cats, the killed Leukemia and Aid’s vaccine needs to be boostered 3-4 weeks later.
3. De-worming and Stool Analysis
Guidelines were adapted from the Canadian Animal Parasite Council www.capcvet.org.
Indoor cats should be dewormed again (once more) at their first annual consultation, and the final routine stool analysis should be performed.
For outdoor cats we recommend that the stools be analyzed once or twice a year after foraging and hunting in all the warmer parts of the year. It’s best to give a routine deworming in December/ January too. We won’t find tapeworms usually on a stool analysis, so it is best to just routinely deworm cats potentially exposed to the sources of tapeworm infestation, which are fleas and hunted prey.
4. Dental Care
During the consultation we will look carefully at your cat’s teeth and look for gingivitis, resorptive lesions, gum recession, periodontitis, broken teeth and the degree of calculus or tartar. For anything more than tartar and mild gingivitis we need a full dentistry. When there is just ‘above the gum line’ calculus with minor gingivitis we can try removing the calculus without anesthesia, using water pressure instruments. If we are giving anesthesia for another reason anyway, we may do a light dental if not a full dental at the same time.
We encourage clients to be proactive at keeping on top of their pet’s teeth at an early age.
The easiest thing to do is socialize your cat to letting you into their mouth. You should teach him/her to let you lift up the lips to touch all the teeth and gently scratch them. Be very gradual. Opening and looking down the mouth is not important for dental care, but it is a valuable tool to be able to do later on for a number of reasons, and in particular to give medication. If you haven’t done this yet at a young age, hold off until you need to do it. Ideally you should scratch the outer surfaces of the teeth once per week. If you can graduate to brushing once or twice daily that would be of great value, but in the future scratching off brown build up is going to be critically important to prevent tartar build up. Brushing by itself is usually not enough, but dental specialists generally say it is the most important preventative step. Unfortunately cats don’t chew like dogs. Dental treats for cats may lead to more overweight concerns than actual dental prevention.
Our Dental Program
5. Wellness Testing
We recommend that all cats get some degree of wellness testing every 3 years. This gives us a look inside the cat to see how the internal organs are doing. The CBC (complete blood count) evaluates the red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, both in quantity, morphology and in the case of WBCs the relative and absolute numbers of the various types of WBCs (neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils, basophils). The biochemical panel measures a host of biochemical markers that are released, or accumulate when certain specific organ systems aren’t functioning normally. For example, we look at the creatinine and urea nitrogen levels for kidney function, the ALT, ALP, GGT, bilirubin and AST levels for liver function. It’s not always black and white though, each one of these markers on their own can mean other things too. T4 levels are important to check in older cats especially if signs of weight loss exist. SpecPLI assesses pancreatic function, which until recently was very difficult to diagnose.
It is recommended that all newly acquired cats be tested for Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, ideally before they enter a multi-cat household. This is done to know the viral status of the pet. These are common viruses which can affect the long term health of the pet, could modify the economic decisions regarding the pet, adds risk for other cats in the household (which could mean vaccinating the other cats) and helps us prevent the spread of these viruses if we intend to let the pet outside. Generally we test for these viruses in adult cats when we start being suspicious of immunosuppressive illnesses, lymphocyte changes or neoplasia.
6. Weight Control Management
For specific details on the importance of weight management, the illnesses and abnormalities that are associated with being overweight, the management strategies and charts to assess your feline friend are at Weight Loss Program
During the annual or biannual consultation, we will take a moment to assess your pet for his/ her body conditions score (BCS – a score out of 5) and record its weight. A 4/5 score is >15% overweight, 5/5 score is >30% overweight. Please make sure you help us remember to weigh your pet at each visit to the hospital regardless of the reason. Weight loss is an important indicator of underlying disease, or that you are doing a great job in solving a weight problem. Weight gain is a primary sign you may be overfeeding your cat ,and maybe not providing enough activities to stimulate proper calorie consumption toward muscle building and fat burning.
If weight loss is occurring we may encourage reassessing blood work and urinalysis. We’ll look more deeply into the past history looking for explanations, most importantly.
If weight gain is occurring we will pay attention to the feeding pattern, nutrition and environmental enrichment factors. We will likely suggest a calorie restricted diet and changes in the feeding pattern to start a weight management strategy. We have a mini weight loss visit we suggest, with our registered veterinary technicians to get you started on your own, or if the weight is serious (greater than 4+/5) we highly recommend entering our weight loss program which lasts 6-12 months depending on your pet’s individual requirements. This includes a rebound program to get your cat transitioned off a weight loss diet and back onto a regular diet.
7. Environmental Enrichment
This is a huge topic we may likely bring up at many of your pet’s consultation visits, especially if your concerns, or our examinations, reveal potential stress related illnesses. A good site to check out is from the Ohio State University Indoor Cat Initiative at www.vet.osu.edu/indoorcat.htm.
Basically outdoor cats will have much less potential stress because they are free to roam, climb trees and fences, have community socialization with other cats, hunt, and play and rest/sleep anywhere they like. The problems of course are: their ‘9’ life spans may be shortened (due to cars and other trauma or toxins), they are prone to costly repair due to injuries (cat fights, trauma etc) and they run the risk of acquiring certain diseases they are not exposed to indoors( Leukemia, Aids, Fleas, Ringworm, Abscesses, blood parasites, etc). Sometimes cats choose other owners too…they decide not to come home, or they get lost and are not recovered. There also may be future or current bylaw regulations on stray cats.
So, the solution for many cat caregivers is to keep their friends indoors. This leads to potential stress issues in these cats that cause behavioural problems for their owners. Stress issues can lead to aggression (multiple types), bowel movements out of the box, urine spraying and soiling, feline interstitial cystitis (blood in urine and frequent visits to the box), excess vocalization, nocturnal issues and likely more.
For more information go to :Cat Behaviour & Enrichment