Yearly Physical Exams
How To Take The Very Best Care Of Your Feline Friend.
An Annual Exam
An annual physical exam is the one very best actions that you can take to keep your cat healthy and happy. Many cats are now living into the late teens and early 20s’. When you bring your cat to St. Louis Cat Clinic, we perform a full physical exam. You speak for your cat because he/she cannot speak for themselves. You and your observations are critically important to maintain your cat’s health and well being. We will usually ask you for an assessment of your cat’s behavior, appetite, eating issues, vomiting, diarrhea, scratching, urine output, and water consumption relevant to the age of your cat. Young, middle age, and older cats are at risk for dental disease, infectious diseases, parasites, heart disease, ear infections, kidney/liver diseases, eye diseases, skin diseases, thyroid disease, immune mediated diseases, and numerous other conditions. The earlier a problem/disease is identified, the greater the chance of successful treatment to prolong your cat friend's life and ensure a good quality of life.
Major Cat Health Concerns
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)
A cat may appear normal and yet still carry this immune suppressing virus which will likely end the cat's life in 2-6 years post blood test diagnosis. All cats should be blood tested to determine if they are carriers of the virus. If you have more than one cat, the potential for transmission to the other cats in your household is a concern. Other cats can be blood tested and, if negative, preventative vaccinations given to decrease the chances of transmission to healthy cats. Any cat going outside should be blood tested and, if negative, vaccinated to decrease the chance of contracting this viral disease. There is no effective treatment or cure once infected.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
A cat may carry this virus for years before exhibiting symptoms. A blood test can diagnose carrier cats before they become ill. Other cats in the household may be vaccinated, if they test negative for the virus, to decrease the potential for transmission to healthy cats. Any cat that goes outside should be blood tested and, if negative, vaccinated to decrease the chances of getting this viral disease. Once infected, there is no effective treatment and no cure.
Many species of worms and protozoan parasites plus some pathogenic bacteria can cause illness in cats and some are transmissible to humans. Vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss are common symptoms. Regular stool tests should be done. Stool tests at St. Louis Cat Clinic consist of a fecal float, direct fecal, and a bacteria gram stain. Our veterinarians are looking for microscopic eggs and organisms that cannot be simply seen in the stools. External parasites include fleas, ticks, ear mites, skin mites,and lice. The elimination of internal and external parasite infections in domestic cats is of great concern for your cat’s health and for human health. For more information on parasites, please look at the Companion Animal Parasite Council website: www.capcvet.org.
Feeding Your Cat
A balanced and nutritious diet is one of the most important ways you can insure a healthy and happy feline companion. There are so many choices currently available which is confusing. Our best recommendation is to choose commercial cat diets that are backed by extensive nutrition research which proves the diet will maintain a cat in good health through all stages of life. Pet food companies that have conducted extensive nutrition research are Purina, Hills, and Iams. Before you purchase a diet, look for research data to review. If the data shows no research data or only a 2-4 month study, then it has not been fully tested through all life stages. St. Louis Cat Clinic has many cat patients who are in their teens and twenties on excellent commercial diets.
You as a cat owner must make the decision about what to feed your cat. It is entirely up to you. Our veterinarians as a part of their education studied pet nutrition. Pet nutrition information is an ongoing learning process via continuing education seminars and research publications. Nutrition is an important part of keeping a pet healthy and happy. Trends in pet nutrition have been summarized in this section to assist cat owners who will make their cat’s nutritional choices for them. We hope that this will be helpful.
There has been a surge of companies producing “grain free” pet foods. Claims have been made that grains are “fillers” and have no nutritional value. That is not true. Beginning in 2015, St. Louis Cat Clinic has seen a large number of cats on numerous brands of “grain free” cat food with bladder stones and Lower Urinary Tract Disease. The urine pH of the cats with those problems has been 8-9 (much too high). Many more cystotomy surgeries (removal of bladder stones) have been done than we have done in the previous 20 years in this veterinary practice. In the past, ammonium urate bladder stones were extremely rare, and now we are seeing a large increase in this type of bladder stone. Meat is a protein source. Remember that plants (grains) contain plant protein, vitamins, minerals, fat as well as carbohydrates. Plant protein can be utilized by cats. Cats, if allergic to something in the food, are usually allergic to the protein source (chicken, beef, fish, lamb) and not grains/gluten. Dogs can be allergic to some grains and gluten (plant protein)
Labels on pet foods may include the words natural, organic, holistic, made in small batches, and human grade. There are no criteria for pet foods to carry this type of labels, but any company can label their pet foods with these words. Natural only means found in nature. It sounds better though. Pet food companies may be prohibited from using “natural” as a label in 2016 because it has no real meaning and does not equate with quality.
All pet food websites declare their diet to be the best. There is a lot of extreme marketing in the very competitive pet food industry. The cost of a pet food does not guarantee better quality regardless of what the advertising promotes. Consumer Reports is a good source of accurate information from a non-bias source.
Cats should be fed measured amounts of food twice a day. Leaving food out all of the time will usually lead to obesity which is an all too common health problem. Wild cats eat when they catch prey and they must exercise to catch it;so they are not over weight. Wild cats hunt their food (small mammals, birds, bugs, worms, and fish). That is their normal food in the wild. To simulate catching prey for inside cats, you can use food treat puzzles: so that cats must work for their food all day long.
Cat's require all amino acids (protein building blocks) supplied in their food. A cat is not able to be a healthy vegetarian or vegan. There are cat foods advertised as vegetarian and vegan. An extensive study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association found vegetarian and vegan labeled cat foods (regardless of brand) are inadequate to maintain the health of a cat. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, please allow your cat to be a cat. They are meat eating animals and need complete foods to maintain their health. We as pet owners should do what is in the best interest of our cat rather than attempt to make our companion animals fit our culinary preferences based on our belief system.
Raw meat diets have been recommended by some companies who market raw foods for pets. Feeding an all meat diet is not a healthy diet for any cat. Never forget that when a cat hunts, it catches and eats most of the prey. Mammals are muscle, organs, intestines, bones, brains and more. Organs are high protein, high vitamin, high mineral foods. Bone is a high calcium and phosphorous food. The intestinal tracts of birds and small mammals contain seeds (grain), and plant material because those types of animals are herbivores (plant eaters). Feeding raw diets can expose a cat and human caretakers to E. Coli and Salmonella bacteria infections from raw meat sources.
If you decide to make your own pet food, purchase a reputable recipe book. Purchase a book written by a PhD veterinarian nutritionist . Then you have assurance that the diet and supplements recommended are most likely to provide a complete diet for your cat’s best health.
It is very important to evaluate the risk potential for individual cats and give only the vaccinations needed. It is far easier to prevent a serious or deadly disease than to try and treat it once a cat is sick. It is a myth that certain vaccinations are “harder” on a cat than others. The Rabies vaccine is often singled out as “harder” on cats. Rabies is a deadly disease. No pet has ever survived a Rabies infection. Only one human has survived a Rabies infection. A cat that is not vaccinated to prevent Rabies will definitely die of the infection. That is “harder” on a cat than a preventative vaccination.
The clinic recommends Distemper/Respiratory (FVRCP) and Rabies vaccination for all cats, including indoor cats. The respiratory viruses can be airborne, transmitted cat to cat directly, and can be brought into your home on shoes and clothing. Rabid bats have been found inside homes risking cat and human exposure. Cats that go outside can be bitten by rabid bats, other cats, skunks, and raccoons. They are also at risk for Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency virus (FIV) exposure. Feline Leukemia and FIV vaccinations will help provide protection from those diseases. A Feline Leukemia/FIV test should be done on all cats you bring into your home and before vaccination for FeLV and FIV to insure that a cat is negative. The vaccine will not be of any value if the cat is already infected.
It is possible for a vaccine to result in the development of a related fibrosarcoma tumor to develop at the site of the vaccination in about 1 in 10,000 cats. The potential for the development of a fibrosarcoma is believed to be due to the hereditary make up of certain cats and not the vaccines. Research is continuing.
The purpose of a vaccination protocol is for the protection for a much loved kitty. Cats, other animals, and humans may have a vaccination reaction but it is less than a 1 % possibility. The majority of those reactions are not life threatening. Human flu vaccines may cause a vaccine reaction but they are valuable as a preventative measure for a disease which has the potential to kill a number of people every year. In rare cases a vaccine reactions may be thought to be too
severe to continue to give to vaccinate your cat. If that should happen to your cat, our Our veterinarians will discuss the risks of vaccination versus the potential consequences of not vaccinating your cat.
St. Louis Cat Clinic recommends the appropriate vaccinations for all cats. Our veterinarians vaccinate their own cats according to clinic protocols. We follow these protocols when caring for our own cats. The greatest good will be achieved by protective vaccinations to prevent illness. Our veterinarians will discuss all options with all clients. The American Association of Feline Practitioners
and the Cornell Feline Health Center
websites have excellent information available about cats and cat health.