Minding Outdoor Cats
Cats that spend time outdoors are at risk from a number of threats:
- · Injuries from fights, falls, traffic or traps
- · Exposure to parasites and infectious diseases from feral cats
- · Poisoning from weedkillers, herbicides or rat poisoning
- · Becoming lost and returning undernourished toxins
- · In addition, free-roaming cats hunt other wildlife including pet birds
- · In addition, females that are not neutered will inevitably come back pregnant, so neutering is an essential prerequisite
While preventive care measures don’t work for physical injuries, infectious diseases,(bacteria and viruses) as well as internal and external parasites can be prevented or controlled using vaccinations and strategic medication.
Ideally, for internal parasites, regular faecal examination, typically 2 to 4 times in the first year of life and about 6 to 12mo in adults, is recommended. Products should be selected based on probable parasite exposure, ease of use, and efficacy.
Vaccinate for panleukopenia virus
§ Vaccinate kittens at 6–8 weeks of age and then 3–4wk until over 16 weeks of age.
§ Repeat vaccination at the annual health check as required
Vaccinate for rhinotracheitis (FHV-1) & calicivirus
§ These are part of the “cat flu” complex and the vaccination programme can be fitted in with the panleukopenia vaccination protocol, though boosters are required more often for high risk outdoor cats.
Vaccinate for FeLV
§ Ideally before vaccination, screen kittens and cats with a blood test.
§ Begin vaccination at 8 weeks, as part of the kitty vaccination programme.
§ Repeat vaccination annually depending on the risk of exposure, following the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Internal parasites: Roundworms & hookworms
§ Note that these intestinal parasites can cause significant disease, especially in kittens, and have the potential to infect human.
§ Treat kittens at 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks of age and monthly especially if in contact with young children.
§ Many effective products can be administered orally or topically, but get advice as to the best combination within an overall parasite control programme.
Control of tapeworms
§ All cats can ingest fleas and rodents, which can lead to tapeworm infection.
§ To decrease likelihood of infection, keep patient on adequate flea control.
§ Treat when you see tapeworm segments in the stool. Outdoor cats are exposed to recurrent tapeworms, and will need dosing about every 2 months.
Control of ectoparasites
§ Provide year-round protection against both fleas and ticks.
§ In addition to causing pruritus and flea allergy dermatitis, fleas are potential vectors of tapeworms.
§ While grooming, cats often remove ticks before they can attach; however, ticks can carry diseases and when they bite they can force bacteria from the skin surface into the blood stream.
§ Prevent different mange (mites) types and lice effective flea and tick product.
§ Some mange mites are more difficult to treat and require alternative measures.
§ We always encourage owners to microchip pets but especially those outdoors.
§ A microchip can be critical for outdoor cats that become lost, injured, or transported to shelters or veterinary clinics.
§ If the microchip is not an option, then consider a safety (breakaway) collar with identification tags.
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