Choosing A Cat
Cats are often the perfect pet for the busier person who spends much of the day away from home. They can be very self-sufficient in feeding and toileting and are clean, quiet pets. There are many fantastic purebreeds but the moggie or domestic shorthair should not be under-rated.
There are many fantastic and dedicated cat rescue shelters for finding a kitty needing a home. We recommend starting with a visit to the Animal Welfare League at Wingfield.
If you are considering a purebreed, read our guide to the common genetic diseases of purebred cats.
Although cats are more independent than dogs, they should still get affection and time with their owners every day. For their emotional wellbeing, cats also need a stable and secure territory, so may need to be protected from other cats or have refuges from dogs or children.
Feline road trauma still accounts for too many deaths and serious injuries. With a bit of planning, cats can easily be kept away from danger inside the house or with access to an external cat run. Read our guide to keeping cats happy indoors.
If you do let them outside, getting them inside before dark is essential.
Nutrition and Dental Care
Before the availability of cat foods, the most common problems of cats were nutritional due to their many essential nutrient requirements. Nowadays, with premium cat foods, this should not happen. Table scraps or raw meat should be avoided. Feeding is best done in measured quantities at set mealtimes to limit obesity and improve behaviour. Raw chicken wings or necks can be fed for enjoyment and dental hygiene. Fresh water must be available at all times.
At Walkerville Vet we stock a range of ‘super-premium’ pet foods manufactured by companies we trust. These retail for more than supermarket foods but are derived from higher-quality source ingredients and we feel they provide superior performance and palatability. Their cost per day is not significantly higher as less volume is fed. By getting these fussy animals onto these foods early, we give them a better start to life.
The good news is that cats are almost toilet trained from the moment they come home, as long as you do the right thing. A cat will look for a suitable toilet place and re-use it if it suits them. Is your cat not using the litter tray? Read the possible causes and solutions here.
Here’s what they want:
- A digging material as similar to dry sand or dirt as possible. Clumping crystals may be very convenient, but your cat will find them less natural to use. You may need to add some of their favourite outside dirt to begin.
- Minimal faecal and urine contamination but with a faint odour of past toileting (i.e. clean but not disinfected)
- A private and easily accessible place, often close by when a kitten. Open tops are best to avoid ammonia buildup.
- At least one litter tray per cat.
Read why male cats with toileting problems may be in big trouble without help.
Kittens are best vaccinated three times, at 6 to 8 weeks, 12 weeks and 16 weeks. Kittens are vaccinated with ‘F3’ vaccines including calicivirus and herpesvirus (cat flu) and feline enteritis protection. Recently, we have also been able to help protect them from the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV, similar to the AIDS virus, HIV) by using an FIV vaccine. This is now recommended at the same time as the F3 due to the high risk of infection in cats with outdoor access. Kittens should have very limited and supervised access to outdoors until well after their final vaccination.
For information on the diseases, visit What do vaccines actually do?
Adult cats then require a single annual F3 and FIV booster at the time of their health check. Other vaccines are also available and may be recommended depending on the circumstances.
In cats, we recommend continuous flea control. The reason for this is that flea infestations are surprisingly common, perhaps more often present than not, and owners are typically unaware their cat is affected. Unless they develop a hypersensitivity, cats tend to react to fleas without obvious scratching, and will typically only show mild dandruff and groom more often. The fleas themselves are notoriously difficult to find.
Flea preventatives for cats are a dime a dozen, but there are only a few truly safe and effective products. Collars, sprays, washes and powders are all ineffective and the common organophosphate or pyrethroid containing products are potentially hazardous.
Please ask us for our recommendations of safe and effective treatments. As most people are only too painfully aware, treating cats involves a fair degree of skill and a cooperative kitty. For this reason, most of the better treatments for cats are made with ease of application in mind.
Intestinal worms are quite common and hard to detect. Kittens are most vulnerable to sickness and should be wormed every 2 weeks from 4 weeks of age up to 12 weeks of age, and then monthly to 6 months of age. Cats over 6 months of age can be wormed the same as adults every 3 months for life.
Most worming treatments are tablets or pastes but there is also a treatment which can be applied to the back of the neck if your cat is hard to dose.
Read our experiences with heartworm disease in Adelaide cats here. The heartworm is generally a parasite of the dog, not the cat, and the chance of exposure to heartworm depends on where you live. In an area with heartworm-positive dogs, cats are considered to get heartworm infections at only 10% of the rate of dogs. Therefore, if 1 in 10 unprotected dogs gets heartworm, we would expect around 1 in 100 unprotected cats to get the infection. The problem is that when cats get heartworm, they usually die of the disease. For this disease, we don’t insist on prevention like we do in dogs, but if the expense is not considered too great, then prevention is recommended, also for its other benefits.
Our preferred flea control for cats is also protective against heartworm, making this the ideal choice.
All cats not planned to breed should be desexed. Undesexed female cats can have up to three litters per season and many of these kittens cannot find homes. Male cats are driven to fight and roam, leading to road trauma and repeated fight wounds, and even worse, to the spread of FIV and most other viruses. In fact tomcats are probably the source of most new infections with FIV and for spreading the cat flu viruses. Needless to say, their quality of life is poor and their life expectancy short and they are a significant health hazard for other cats.
We are proud of our anaesthetic record. Read our article on Anaesthetic Safety in Cats for more information.
All cats should have a microchip implanted at some stage early in their life. The widespread use of microchips in our area has made unclaimed cats almost a thing of the past. Microchipping can be performed in most cats without an anaesthetic but is often done at the same time as desexing. It is standard practice to place a “M” tattoo in the ear at the same time or with the next anaesthetic. However, a tattoo is not considered absolutely necessary.
The picture shows the new mini chips next to the older standard microchip. The cost is the same and inserting them causes less discomfort. It is a permanent and safe identification method at a minimal cost.
Prices for microchip insertion including lifetime registration are surprisingly low.
Holding & Transporting Cats
A guide to travelling with cats is found in our knowledge base.