DIET:

Cats require a properly balanced diet for health. Such a diet contains protein to build the body; fats for energy and skin and coat health; and minerals and vitamins for healthy tissues. Roughage is essential for bowel function.

Meat by itself is not a complete diet and requires complicated supplementation, which is difficult and may be uneconomic. In some cases a diet of meat alone can be responsible for major mineral upsets and skeletal damage.

Fresh drinking water should always be available, particularly when dry foods are used.

We advise you to feed your cat a premium brand diet (E.g. Iams, Eukanuba or Hills Science Diet) for the reason that they are nutritionally superior. There are various types of kitten and adult cat foods available for this purpose. (For more information see the nurses at the front desk.)

FEEDING KITTENS:

Early in life kittens need to eat little, and often! They need relatively larger quantities of food because they are growing rapidly, but have limited space in their tiny stomachs.

Kitten 6 weeks old – 4-6 meals a day
Kitten 12 weeks old – 3-4 meals a day
Kitten 6 months old – 2-3 meals a day
Cat 1 year or more – 1-2 meals a day

Because of their rapid growth any nutritional “mistakes” made during kitten hood will have more severe consequences. Kitten foods are specially formulated to provide the nutrients needed to meet the demands of rapid growth in a compact form when tiny stomachs limit food intake. It can help to feed kittens a range of different flavours and textures in the first 6 months of their life. This gives them cosmopolitan tastes!

Contrary to popular myth, kittens and adult cats do not need milk. In fact after weaning, kittens often lose the ability to digest milk sugar (lactose) by about 12 weeks of age. Therefore, while small amounts may be tolerated, too much can lead to intestinal upset and diarrhoea because it is not digested properly! Lactose-free milk, e.g. Whiskas milk, is safe to feed if the owner wishes.

VACCINATIONS:

FELINE ENTERITIS – Also known as feline panleucopenia, this viral disease is a very dangerous disease affecting cats. Feline enteritis is very contagious and death rate is high. Symptoms include depression, loss of appetite, uncontrollable vomiting and diarrhoea, often with blood and severe abdominal pain.

FELINE RESPIRATORY DISEASE – Also known as “cat flu”, feline respiratory disease is caused in 90% of cases by herpes virus (feline rhinotracheitis) and/or feline calicivirus. Feline respiratory disease is highly contagious and causes sneezing, coughing, running eyes, nasal discharge, loss of appetite and tongue ulcers. Recovered cats can continue to carry and spread the infection for long periods.

FELINE CHLAMYDOPHILA – This organism causes a severe persistent conjunctivitis in up to 30% of cats and may also affect reproduction. Chlamydophila is a highly contagious disease, and is mainly a problem in multi-cat households.

FELINE IMMUNODEFICIENCY VIRUS (FIV) – FIV is a disease affecting the cat’s immune system. Their natural defences against other disease may be seriously affected, much in the same way as human HIV/AIDS.

FELINE LEUKAEMIA – This is a virus that attacks the immune system and is particularly associated with cancer of the blood cells (lymphoma). This disease often manifests as a lack of appetite, weight loss and apathy, pale or yellow mucous membranes, vomiting, diarrhoea, reproductive problems, tumours and often death. Thankfully, this virus is currently rare in South Australia.

Kitten
8 weeks – Feline enteritis, “cat flu”
– +/- FIV
– (+/- Feline Chlamydia)

10 weeks – FIV (Feline “AIDS”)

12 weeks – Feline enteritis, “cat flu”
– +/- FIV
– (+/- Feline Chlamydia)

Adult 1 year or over- Feline enteritis, “cat flu”
– +/- FIV
– (+/- Feline Chlamydia)

WORMING TREATMENTS:

Worms are parasites of intestinal tract that can cause illness if left untreated. Kittens and adult cats should be given an intestinal worming treatment regularly:
Less than 3 months Treat every 2 weeks
3 months or more Treat every 3 months
We recommend Profender spot on or Drontal tablets.

FLEAS:

Fleas are insects that feed on the animal blood and can cause dermatitis varying from mild to more severe allergy symptoms.

Some products may be used in young kittens but please seek advice first and read product labels carefully.

Never use a dog flea product on a cat: this can be fatal.

We recommend Advantage from 8 weeks old (kills fleas only) OR Advocate flea adulticide anytime from 9weeks old (kills fleas, heartworm larvae, lice, mites and some intestinal worms as well as preventing heartworm disease)

DESEXING:

Unless there is an intention to breed from your cat we recommend that you have him/her desexed. The age we generally perform this procedure is between 4 and 6 months of age.

SLEEPING REQUIREMENTS:

Supply dry, draught free, shaded housing (cat box, shed, garage, basket, woolly rugs, etc). Your bed is probably the best place according to the cat!

GROOMING:

Most cats will normally groom themselves however; very longhaired cats may develop knots in their fur.
Shorthaired: your pet should be groomed at least once a week with a brush or comb.
Longhaired: 2 or 3 times a week with special grooming brushes and combs etc.
Regular trips to a professional groomer may be needed.
Specific skin disorders may require a special shampoo and possibly adjusted bathing frequency.

IDENTIFICATION:

Microchips are used as a form of identification. A chip is inserted under the skin of the cat. When the cat is found, he/she can be scanned and the person scanning can find out the owner’s contact details from a central on-line registry.

Kittens should not be left outside without supervision. Cats 4 months or older may have a leather or material collar with a tag (contact phone number on it).

Ask the nurses for any advice you need on cat collars. It should be noted that regular climbers of trees or fences could get their collars caught. For this reason either an elasticized collar, or preferably a safety collar with a breakable section is recommended.

INDOOR TOILETING

The litter tray

(a) Number of litter trays

One tray per cat is a good rough guide, as many cats do not like to share trays. Having tray in geographically separate areas, e.g. kitchen and laundry also helps.

(b) Type of litter

Several types of cat litter can be offered, such as Fuller’s Earth granule types, wood chip pellet, recycled newspaper, re-usable waxed granule varieties or finer grained litters. Cats often prefer finely grained substrates such as sand or a proprietary brand with sand-like texture. If the cat is to be allowed outdoors the litter can be mixed with soil from the garden to help transfer toileting behaviour completely to the outdoors later (ensure vaccinations are up to date).

(c) Cleaning

The litter tray should neither be allowed to get too dirty as this will discourage most cats, nor should it be cleaned too often as the presence of the cat’s own smell on the litter will help to develop the idea of a latrine. Solids can be removed regularly but the more cats use a tray, the more often it will need to be cleaned, but one per day per cat is recommended. (Cats don’t like litter that reeks of ammonia!)

(d) Security and position

An open litter tray in a busy part of the room will make most cats feel very vulnerable and they may prefer to eliminate (urine or faeces) behind the furniture or in a quite corner. Place the tray in a secure quiet place. Sometimes adding a cover with an inverted cardboard box with a hole cut in it for entry and exit can be helpful; you may wish to buy a proprietary covered litter box for those that seem anxious, although some prefer an open tray. Cats will usually be most unwilling to use a litter tray placed too close to a feeding area.

If inappropriate urination is an issue for your cat, talk to your vet or nurse to ensure there are no medical problems. There are some excellent products which help to reduce feline stress in a household, which is often one of the factors involved in a cat toileting in the wrong place.