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The Importance of Feline Vaccines

 

Vaccinations help to prevent many illnesses that effect cats. Vaccinating your cat has been considered the easiest way to help your cat live a long and healthy life. There are different types and combinations of vaccines that help protect your cat from different diseases. Although vaccinating your cat has the potential to protect him/her against life threatening diseases, as with many medical procedures, this does not come without some possible risks. Vaccination is a procedure that has risks and benefits that must be weighed out for each patient specifically according to the health and lifestyle of your cat. Your veterinarian will help you to determine what is best for your cat specifically. The following are some commonly asked questions about vaccines.

What are vaccines?

“Vaccines help prepare the body’s immune system to fight the invasion of disease-causing organisms. Vaccines contain antigens, which look like the disease causing organism to the immune system, but don’t actually cause the disease. When the vaccine is introduced to the body, the immune system is mildly stimulated. If the cat is ever exposed to the real disease, the immune system is now prepared to recognize and fight it off entirely or reduce the severity.” – ASPCA 2010

How important are vaccines to my cat?

Vaccines play an important role in the overall health of your cat. Most veterinarians will advise that healthy cats should receive core vaccinations. That being said, your veterinarian will advise you of a proper vaccine protocol that is right for your cat specifically. Factors that should be looked at when making this decision are age, health, medical history, environment and lifestyle.

 

What are Core vaccines?

According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, vaccines are divided into two categories; core and non-core. Core vaccines are considered to be important for all cats and vital part of a long and healthy life. Core vaccines protect against panleukopenia (feline distemper), Upper Respiratory Infective Viruses, and Rabies. Non-core vaccines are given depending on the cat’s lifestyle. This group of vaccinations includes vaccines such as Feline Leukemia Virus, Bordetella, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, as well as Chylamydophila. Certain vaccinations are to be given yearly to adult cats, while others are given every 3 years. You veterinarian can determine which vaccines are best for your cat and when they should be given.

 

 

Which Vaccines are required by law?

In the province of Ontario, rabies vaccinations are mandatory for all domestic pets and are required to be given every year. Proof of rabies vaccination is mandatory.

 

When should my Kitten be vaccinated?

When kittens are born, they receive some of the mother cats’ antibodies in the milk they receive from the mother, if the mother has a healthy immune system. These antibodies protect against infectious diseases until they are able to develop an immune system of their own. When kitten are around 6-8 weeks of age, if they are healthy enough, your veterinarian will begin to administer a series of vaccines at 3 – 4 week intervals until the kitten reaches 16 weeks of age.

 

What are the Risks associated with Vaccines?

Vaccinations are supposed to mildly stimulate the immune system in order to protect against specific diseases. The stimulation the vaccine creates can cause mild symptoms such as soreness at the injection site, fever, and allergic reactions. There are however less common side effects that can occur such as injection site tumors and some immune diseases associated with vaccinations. With that being said, there is a risk when giving your cat vaccines. However, the risk of infectious disease usually outweighs the risk of less common vaccine reactions. It is important to discuss your cat’s medical history with your veterinarian, to decide if vaccines are in your cat’s best interest.

 

If a vaccine reaction occurs how do I know?

Most cats show no ill effect from vaccines. However keep an eye out for the following symptoms:

–          Fever

–          Lethargy

–          Loss of appetite

–          Vomiting

–          Diarrhea

–          Limping/Lameness

–          Swelling or redness at the injection site

If you suspect your cat is having a vaccine reaction, contact your veterinarian immediately.

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Flea Control

Summer is here an fleas are in full force! In order to prevent fleas it is important to understand them.

Where does my cat get fleas?

The most common flea found on cats and dogs is the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis). Rarely rabbit fleas or hedgehog fleas are also found on cats.

The most important source of cat fleas is newly emerged adult fleas from pupae in your house or yard. Adult fleas live and feed on our pets but the female flea lays eggs, which fall off into the environment. Under favorable conditions, these eggs develop first into larvae and then into pupae. The pupae contain adult fleas that lie in wait for a suitable animal host. Modern carpeted centrally-heated homes provide ideal conditions for the year-round development of fleas. The highest numbers of flea eggs, larvae and pupae will be found in areas of the house where pets spend the most time, such as their beds and furniture. Even though fleas may be in your house, you probably won’t see them; the eggs are too small to see without magnification and the larvae, which are just visible, migrate deep down in carpets, furniture or cracks in floors away from the light.

 What effect do fleas have on my cat?

Many cats live with fleas but show minimal signs. However, the following problems can occur:

  • Some cats develop an allergy to flea bites, especially if they are repeatedly bitten. If these cats are bitten by fleas they groom or scratch excessively and develop skin disease.
  • Adult fleas live on animals and feed on blood. In kittens and debilitated animals this may cause anemia.
  • The flea acts as the intermediate host for the tapeworm (Dipylidium caninum). Tapeworm eggs, which are shed within tapeworm segments in cat feces, are eaten by flea larvae that develop into infected fleas. Cats become infested by swallowing infected fleas during grooming. Any cat with fleas is likely also to have a tapeworm infestation.

How can I get rid of fleas on my cat?

This can be a demanding task and requires a three-pronged approach. Fleas need to be eliminated from your cat, from any other cats and dogs that you have, from your home and from your yard. Even this rigorous approach may not give 100% control as there are other sources of fleas that are beyond your control such as other people’s pets, wild animals and infested environments which your cat may come into contact with outside your house.

What products are available to treat my cat?

Insecticides applied to cats are designed to kill adult fleas. Many products have limited effectiveness because they only work for a few hours after application. This is particularly true of flea shampoos and powders; they kill fleas present on your cat at the time of application but have little residual effect so the day after use the cat may again have fleas. There are new products with excellent residual activity that are available from your veterinarian. In addition to adulticides, there are several products on the market that contain insect growth regulators, which effectively sterilize the fleas and prevent flea infestations. Ask your veterinarian about Advantage or Revolution – beware of over the counter flea medications.

ALWAYS READ THE LABEL CAREFULLY – apply the product as instructed and repeat at the intervals stated.

My cat hates being sprayed. What can I do?

Many cats strongly dislike being sprayed. Consult your veterinarian, as there are several alternatives available. Flea collars are very convenient but they don’t work well or provide sufficient control for a flea allergic cat and are not generally recommended. Additionally, some flea collars, especially ones with a strong pesticide smell, may be harmful to some cats. Some cats will develop a skin reaction to collars. There are flea foams available that you brush into your cat’s coat. Topical flea preventives are highly recommended because of their efficacy and ease of application.

How can I treat my home environment?

A number of different products are available which will kill the stages of the flea life cycle present in your home such as:

  • Insecticide sprays for use in the house
  • Sprays containing insect growth regulators (IGRs) for use in the house
  • Insecticides applied by professional pest control operatives in your house

Sprays for use in the house should be used in places where the flea eggs, larvae and pupae are likely to be. It is recommended that you treat the entire household first and then concentrate on the hot spots – your cat’s favorite dozing spots – such as soft furniture, beds and carpets. Once they hatch from the egg, flea larvae move away from the light and burrow deep into carpets and into other nooks and crannies where it is difficult to treat. Be sure to move cushions, furniture and beds to spray underneath. Other places larvae are likely to live include baseboards and the cracks in wooden floors.

Your pet’s bedding should be regularly washed in hot water or replaced. Regular and thorough vacuuming of your carpets, floors and soft furnishings can remove a large number of flea eggs, larvae and pupae that are present in your home. You will need to throw away the vacuum bag to prevent eggs and larvae from developing inside the vacuum cleaner. Vacuuming prior to the application of a spray to the house is recommended because the vibrations will encourage newly developed fleas to emerge from pupae, which will be killed by the insecticide.

How do I choose which products to use?

A flea control program needs to be individually tailored based on the lifestyle of your cat and other pets, and your family situation. Your veterinarian is the best person to advise you about safe and effective flea control products.

Are insecticides safe for my cat and my family?

Insecticides for flea control should be safe both for pets and humans provided the manufacturer’s instructions are carefully followed. One should be particularly careful to avoid combining insecticides with similar modes of action. Always seek your veterinarian’s advice if you are unsure about this and always tell your veterinarian about any flea control products you may be using other than those which he has prescribed.

Certain types of pets (e.g. fish, amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates) may be particularly susceptible to some products. Do not use any flea control products in the room in which these pets are kept without first consulting your veterinarian for advice.

I have not seen any fleas on my cat. Why has my veterinarian advised flea control?

Fleas are easy to find if a cat is heavily infested. If fleas are present in smaller numbers, it can be harder to see them and fleas move fast! Try looking on the cat’s stomach, around the tail base and around the neck. Sometimes adult fleas cannot be found but “flea dirt” can be seen. This is fecal matter from the flea that contains partially digested blood and is a good indicator of the presence of fleas. Flea dirt is seen as small black specks or coiled structures; when placed on damp white tissue, they dissolve, leaving a reddish brown stain. Flea dirt may be found in cat’s bedding even when fleas cannot be found on the cat.

In cats that develop an allergy to fleas one of the symptoms is excessive grooming. Cats are very efficient at removing debris from their coat’s using their tongues and may succeed in removing all evidence of flea infestation such as adult fleas and flea dirt. One of the most common causes of feline allergic skin disease is flea allergy dermatitis. To investigate this possibility your veterinarian may advise rigorous flea control even though no fleas can be found. If the cat’s skin problem improves with flea control then it suggests that flea allergy is involved.

I noticed my cat had fleas after his return from boarding. Did he get fleas there?

Not necessarily. Newly hatched adult fleas can survive for up to 140 days within the pupa. When you and your pets are absent from home for extended periods of time these adult fleas remain in the pupae because no host is available. As soon as you or your pet returns home, these fleas will emerge in large numbers and jump onto cats, dogs and even people in the search for a blood meal.At Guildcrest Cat Hospital, all of our boarders are treated for fleas upon admission.

Despite treating my cat for fleas he still has them. Is there a “super flea”?

There is no evidence of fleas developing resistant to insecticides, especially the newer once-a-month topical flea preventives. Apparent failure of treatment almost always results from improper application of the preventive, inadequate treatment of the home or exposure to other infested pets or environments. Consider treating sheds, cars and any outdoor sleeping spots. Bear in mind that your cat may be going into other people’s houses. Most of these problems can be overcome by using an effective product on the cat to kill adult fleas in addition to treating your home.

June was Weight Awareness Month!

Weight Awareness Month
At the Guildcrest Cat Hospital, we believe that obesity plays a major role in feline illness! This is why we dedicate an entire month to making sure we spread awareness and educate our clients to the best of our abilities with the latest data and trending diet plans.  And that’s where you come in! If you are interested in helping your cat reach his/her goal weight, all you have to do is book a free weight consultation, bring your pal along and we will take it from there!

Why is weight awareness important?
Weight awareness is important for your cat because obesity is a major cause of the following illnesses in cats:
  • Diabetes
  • Fatty Liver Disease
  • Heart Failure
  • Arthritis
  • Urinary Tract Infections
  • Shorter Life Expectancy