Health & Behaviour of your Cat

Microchipping

Lots of cats do go roaming particularly if they are not neutered and can get ‘lost’. Fortunately more and more owners are getting their cats microchipped. It is an easy and permanent method of identification giving peace of mind should your cat go missing. Remember it is important to let the microchipping company know if you move house to keep your details up-to-date.

Allergies

If you or a member of your family develop an allergy to a cat, it may be possible to control it if an anti-allergy wipe or lotion is used on the cat. The wipes or lotions are harmless to cats and significantly reduce the allergens which cause the reaction in humans. Contrary to popular belief, it is not the cats hair that causes the problem, so reactions also occur with breeds that do not shed their coats. The reaction is caused by sensitivity to a potent allergen from the saliva and sebaceous glands and microscopic dander. The production of allergens increases as a cat matures, so kittens may be tolerated, but mature cats may not. Anti-allergy wipes are usually composed of a balance of cleansers and moisturizers. The cleansers gently remove the dander, saliva and urine from the coat, and encapsulate the allergens. The moisturizers condition the coat and skin to further reduce the amount of material shed, so your cat also ends up with a nice glossy coat!

Cat Toys

Does your cat ignore her toys? Did you know if a toy is left in a cats environment for 3 days it will no longer be novel and may not even warrant a look or even a sniff. It is always best to put toys away after a couple of days of play, replace them with others, then bring the toys back out at another time. Cats and kittens seem equally intrigued with cardboard boxes and screwed up pieces of newspaper or paper tunnels as they are with balls and fishing-rod type toys. So you don’t need to spend a fortune to keep your cat amused. A favourite toy can also be used as a powerful reinforcer for good behaviour, being brought out when your cat does something right to encourage her to continue in her good ways in the future.

Teeth

Many cats need dental treatment at some point during their lives. Gum disease starts when bacteria stick to the surface of the cat’s teeth, forming a sticky layer called dental plaque. If plaque isn’t removed, it forms a hard, brown coating known as tartar, which builds up as more plaque sticks to it. The bacteria within plaque and tartar can attack the gums, leading to gum disease. The most effective way to keep gum disease at bay is to brush your cats teeth. However, if your cat will not tolerate this then special mouth rinses, water additives or feeding dry food as well as wet food will help, particularly the prescription ‘dental’ kibble all of which are available from your vets. Of course access to fresh water is important at all times.

Health & Behaviour of your Cat

Fleas

Fleas spend most of their lifecycle NOT living on your pet! They prefer carpeted centrally heated homes with soft furnishings. If you see fleas on your cat, your cat is scratching a lot or you yourself are bitten by a flea you will need to start treatment straight away. It is necessary to treat the cat, any other pet that is in contact with the cat, and the environment to prevent a re-infestation. Spot-on treatments and sprays are available from your vets which will kill any flea that bites your cat. Insecticide sprays are also available for the home which will kill any eggs or larvae. You will also need to vacuum the home to shift any resistant pupae encouraging them to develop into adult fleas which can be dealt with. The lifecycle of a flea is approximately 3 – 8 weeks. Fleas will still develop in the environment or on your pets for one lifecycle or longer after the treatment is implemented. You will need to continue with flea treatment in accordance with manufacturers' instructions to prevent re-infestation.

Inappropriate Toileting

If your cat normally uses a litter tray then all of a sudden has accidents elsewhere in the house it is a sure sign that something is wrong. The first thing to do is to get your cat checked over by a vet to make sure there is nothing physically wrong. Another possibility is a change to the cat’s environment; this could be anything from a new cat in the area to a new baby in the house. Any new items brought into the house can cause the cat to spray or mark their territory. It could be something as simple as not cleaning out the litter tray often enough or overzealous cleaning of the tray with a strong smelling product. If you have recently changed the type of cat litter your cat may have become confused. You may not have enough litter trays the rule of thumb is one litter tray per cat plus one extra. Some cats will only use a litter tray once or may only urinate or defaecate in one tray. Privacy is also important. The litter tray needs to be in a quiet area of the house away from noisy children and not be overlooked by other cats either inside or out. Cats like their facilities to be separate, so always make sure their food and water bowls aren’t sat directly next to the litter tray. If your cat does have an accident it is best not to tell them off, any kind of reaction, even shouting, reinforces the behaviour. Clean the area with biological washing powder then dab on some surgical spirit to remove the remaining ammonia smell. Always check the products won’t discolour the carpet or material by trying a small patch first. Then sprinkle some biscuits in the area which serves to confuse the cat into not going to the toilet where there is food.

Neutering

One of the most important things you can do for your cat is neutering. Not only does it prevent unwanted litters, but it also cuts the risk of catching life threatening diseases. There is an assumption that it is good for a female to have a litter, this is nonsense. Any pregnancy can lead to complications not least a prolonged and difficult birth. Cats that have litters are more prone to mammary tumours and of course they can be infected with several diseases (through mating) such as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (Feline Aids) and Feline Leukaemia. These are life threatening and can be passed on to the kittens. Un-neutered male cats will be more likely to wander and if they get the scent of a female in season, they will travel long distances to find her. Once they are out of their familiar territory they will be more likely to fight with other males and once again this is how diseases are passed on. A cat that is bitten or scratched by another has the possibility of developing abscesses, not only are these very painful, they can be very expensive to treat. Cats can be neutered from 5 months of age and more recently many vets are prepared to operate earlier. In any case NO UN-NEUTERED cat, male or female, should be let out until they have been done. There are several organisations that can help with the cost of neutering, check your local rescues as they may be able to give you the contact details for them.