Cats rule the roost in many Darwin homes. But our warm climate puts the beloved moggy at risk, with some parasites and serious diseases common for cats in Darwin.
Here are some important things you need to know about caring for your cat.
In addition to the standard F3 vaccination that covers cat flu and feline enteritis, we recommend vaccinating cats against two additional diseases:
Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)
Is a blood-borne viral infection that is potentially fatal for cats. It affects the immune system and eventually leads to severe chronic infections as the immune system is overcome. The virus is spread through bite wounds from infected cats, and a mother can also pass it to her kittens through her milk. There is no cure.
Feline leukaemia virus
Is a fatal disease for cats. The virus attacks the cat’s immune system and makes it more vulnerable to infection and illness as well as prone to developing certain cancers. The virus is spread through mutual grooming, sharing food and water, mating or from bites from infected cats. A blood test will determine if a cat is infected, but there is no cure.
After the first round of kitten shots, cats in Darwin should have a scheduled vaccination every year.
8 weeks: F3 (cat flu and feline enteritis) + FIV
12 weeks: F3 + FIV + feline leukaemia virus
16 weeks: F3 + FIV + feline leukaemia virus
Thereafter: annually for F3 + FIV + feline leukaemia virus
All our vaccinations include a health check.
Parasites, like worms and fleas, thrive in warm environments, which means they’re more prevalent here than in southern areas of Australia. The parasites we treat are:
Roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms are common in Darwin, and infected cats can pass them on to people.
Cats need to be wormed more frequently in Darwin than in most areas of Australia: kittens need to be wormed fortnightly, and adult cats need monthly worming. We offer a worming tablet that covers heartworm and intestinal worms, or a spot-on treatment that covers intestinal worms, heartworm and fleas.
There is also another type of tapeworm in Darwin that none of the usual worming treatments cover—the spirometra tapeworm. We recommend an additional tapeworm tablet every three months for this. Most supermarket products aren’t effective against our tropical-strength worms.
Because heartworm is spread by mosquitoes, many people don’t realise that cats can contract it. But they can and do—even indoor cats. The signs are non-specific and in some cases, sudden death is the first indication a cat is infected. So it’s very important to protect our cats in Darwin. We offer two heartworm treatment options: a monthly tablet that covers both heartworm and intestinal worms, and a spot-on treatment that covers heartworm, intestinal worms and fleas.
Cats get fleas too, and because they groom themselves so well, it’s often difficult to detect when there’s a problem. Flea collars and powders alone are not effective treatments in Darwin, and even some of the better flea products that work elsewhere often don’t work here. We can treat your cat’s fleas with a spot-on treatment on the back of the neck. This also protects against heartworm and intestinal worms. We also have a monthly tablet for fleas that is highly effective, and is particularly useful for cats with flea allergies. It’s also imperative to treat all dogs and cats in the household when addressing a flea problem
De-sexing cats is extremely important.
It’s much harder to contain a cat, especially a female on heat, so if she’s not de- sexed, she will get pregnant. Cats come into heat often and they’ll keep having litter after litter. This isn’t good for a cat, and it’s certainly not good for the unwanted kittens.
Here are the main reasons why de-sexing your cat is important:
- De-sexed cats (particularly males) are less likely to ‘spray’ urine and fight with other cats.
- They’re also less likely to be hit by a car or attacked by a dog because they don’t roam as much, trying to find a mate.
- There is a reduced risk of health problems with de-sexed cats, particularly mammary cancers and uterine infections in females, and testicular tumours in males.
- Reducing litters of unwanted kittens can only be a good thing.
De-sexing a cat is a routine, five-step procedure that’s performed (by appointment, Monday to Friday) in one day:
- Bring in your cat in the morning, and she’ll be ready to go home that afternoon. Don’t let her eat after midnight the night before (water is fine).
- We’ll give her a full examination and a premedication, which keeps her calm and provides excellent pain relief before the surgery starts. This also sets her in a good position for recovery.
- Our vets then perform the de-sexing surgery, which generally takes 5–10 minutes for males and 30 minutes for females.
- After surgery your cat is given more pain relief and monitored as she recovers in the clinic for the afternoon. When she’s up and awake, she can go home.
- In 12 days, bring her back and we’ll remove the stitches and check on her (no stitches to be removed for males).
At All Pets, all anaesthetics are closely monitored by a dedicated veterinary nurse. We also have state-of-the-art monitoring equipment.
Options to make it even safer
At All Pets, whenever we administer an anaesthetic we offer our clients two extra options to make the procedure as safe as possible:
- Pre-anaesthetic blood testing gives us vital information about the animal’s kidney and liver function and puts us in a better position to handle any problems we find.
- We can also put the animal on an intravenous fluid drip throughout the procedure, which maintains their blood pressure and aids their recovery. It also means we can act quickly if a problem does arise during the anaesthetic.
We recommend both options to all patients, but they’re not mandatory. These things would be done at point two in the list above.
Four to five months of age is recommended, before the cat has its first heat and when it’s old enough to cope well with an anaesthetic. We can de-sex a cat at any age after that.
Dental problems are common and serious in cats—two out of three cats we see over the age of three have dental disease.
If your cat has smelly breath, hard yellow or brown gunk on their teeth or swollen, red gums, they may have dental disease. Cats can also get holes in their teeth called resorptive lesions; these are very painful for the animal and the teeth must be removed.
We can treat all of these dental problems, including extractions, with our state-of-the- art dental equipment. It has ultrasonic scaling and polishing functions, much like a human dentist’s machine.
Cats don’t tolerate dental procedures like people do, so we need to administer a general anaesthetic for dental treatments. Like our de-sexing patients, we offer two extra pre-anaesthetic options to make the procedure as safe as possible: pre- anaesthetic blood testing to check the cat’s kidney and liver function, and a drip to administer intravenous fluids throughout the procedure to maintain the cat’s blood pressure and aid recovery.
Prevention is best
Brushing your cat’s teeth every day is the best way to keep their teeth in great shape and stave off dental disease. We have special finger toothbrushes and chicken-flavoured toothpaste. For cats that don’t tolerate brushing, there is a rinse that can be very effective.
But, for some cats, even with fantastic home dental care, they’ll still need an occasional scale and clean.
Diet and Nutrition
What your cat eats can have a huge impact on its health and wellbeing, especially if it has a health condition.
We carry the Hills Science Diet, which is designed to provide optimal nutrition for cats at every life stage: kittens, adults and seniors. We can also provide specific diets for hairball control and indoor cats.
Food as medicine
We carry a full range of scientifically developed, prescription pet foods that are also treatments for a whole range of conditions—joint, teeth and skin problems are just a few. It’s called the Hills Prescription Diet, and it’s only available from vets. We can examine your cat and recommend a specific diet to help treat these and many other conditions.
Obesity is another common issue in cats, and this can lead to many serious health problems. We have foods designed for weight loss and can organise a weight loss program for your cat with regular weigh-ins one of our nurses to help keep them on track.
What about the cost?
A bag of premium cat food does cost more than a supermarket brand of the same size, but the cost is actually quite comparable when you consider some important factors.
Each Hills product contains all the ingredients your cat needs for good nutrition, but none of the ‘fillers’ common in supermarket brands. That means you actually feed your cat less (and she’ll pass much less waste, too).
Our nurse can calculate the per-day cost of premium food (or prescription food) for your cat, and most people are pleasantly surprised at the comparable cost.
The bottom line
We can recommend a diet that will make your pet happy, healthy and live longer, especially if they have a health condition.
Pet insurance, like private health insurance, helps to cover the cost of medical bills but is specifically designed for the furry members of your family.
Advances in veterinary medicine have greatly increased the number of diagnostics and treatment choices your vet can offer you. However, providing the best care for your pet can be expensive. If your pet is involved in an accident or suffers a sudden illness pet insurance can give you the ability to consider all treatment options and not be restricted by cost. That is why at All Pets we strongly recommend health insurance for your pets.
There are a number insurance providers, we can help you with information on these but we recommend researching the best provider for you and your animals. For a comparison chart click here.
Petplan insurance have an exlusive offer through vet clinics for four weeks free pet insurance with no obligation to extend. This is available for puppies and kittens between 8 weeks and 12 months of age. All Pets can activate the policy straight away and cover starts 72 hours after activation.
We also offer a 50% discount on most of our services through All Pets Health Care. Pay a yearly fee and then you’ll only pay half price for most services throughout the year, including consultations, hospitalisation, surgery, x-ray and anaesthetics (not including drugs and pathology).
Senior Health Checks
Caring for our pets as they age is not always an easy task. It can be difficult to know the difference between a normal ageing process and signs of disease. Some pets can be particularly good at masking their discomfort or changes. This may allow certain ailments such as arthritis or dental disease to progress to an advanced stage before detection. The Vets at All Pets Veterinary Hospital can help you interpret early changes in your pet’s behaviour in order to provide appropriate advice and treatment if required. Our aim is to provide the best quality of life for your pet as he or she ages.
Any pet over the age of 8 is considered a senior, and for large breed dogs (over 25kg) 6 years of age is considered senior. Although many dogs and cats are still behaving like adolescents at this age, their bodies do develop special needs, particularly with regards to nutrition, oral care and exercise.
Regular veterinary examinations allow us to discuss any changes you may have noticed, as well as examine your pet thoroughly for any early physical signs. A blood test and urine test is an easy way to rule out problems such as kidney disease, liver disease, thyroid disease or diabetes, all of which become more common as pets age. Blood tests at least annually allow us to know what is normal for your pet, and provide a benchmark for any changes that develop over the years. Blood samples can be taken during a senior health check consultation. If you are able to bring in a recent urine sample for your pet, we can perform a urinalysis which provides valuable information. Our nurses can supply you with a urine pot and advice on how to collect it!
With early diagnosis, many conditions can managed successfully, allowing our senior pets to continue being much loved and important members of the family.
A senior health consultation can be booked at the same time as your pet’s vaccinations, or at any other time during the year. To help us obtain a thorough history about your pet we will ask you to fill out a senior health questionnaire when you arrive for your visit, if you prefer these can be downloaded here and brought in with you.
Explanation of tests that are recommended for senior pets annually (or every 3-6 months for some pets):
1) Full health check
2) Bloods tests:
Haematology – A PCV (packed cell volume) assesses red blood cell levels and can help detect anaemia and dehydration.
A more comprehensive test that provides more information about red and white blood cells and also platelets may be recommended for some animals.
Biochemistry – this helps to assess kidney and liver function, as well as glucose levels (to assess for diabetes).
A more comprehensive biochemistry test may be recommended in some cases.
Thyroid hormone levels – this test can help detect hyperthyroidism in cats, and hypothyroidism in dogs. This is recommended in all senior cats, and for dogs if there are any suggestive signs.
3) Urinalysis – this is important to accurately interpret the biochemistry blood results, and provides information about kidney function, diabetes, and urinary tract infections.
4) Blood pressure monitoring – high blood pressure can cause numerous problems including blindness and neurological problems and it is important to measure blood pressure as you pet ages.
Other testing such as radiographs or ultrasounds may be recommended in some pets, which may enable us to detect problems earlier than we can with a physical examination.