Do You Want a Cat?
Which of us hasn’t been delighted by a tiny ball of fur with big eyes batting around a toy with its brothers and sisters? However, before you make the commitment to care for a cat for as many as twenty years or more, here are some things to consider.
Cats, although lower maintenance than their canine counterparts, still require care on a daily basis. They need food, water, a clean litter box and, most importantly, attention from you. Although it is possible to leave cats on their own for a couple of days, with adequate food and water, of course, routine neglect of their social needs may result in behavioral problems such as play aggression, scratching destructively and even urine or fecal marking. These problems are much easier to prevent than to solve.
Especially in the first year, it is not inexpensive to meet your pet’s health care needs. Between 6 weeks and 6 months of age, your cat will need several sets of vaccinations, parasite control, surgery to prevent unwanted litters or behavior problems, as well as declawing if you choose to do so. All of these costs can run as much as $300 or more, and this is if your pet experiences no illnesses or injuries! Every year for the rest of its life your cat will need a physical examination and appropriate vaccinations. As he or she ages, senior care, dental health maintenance and the diseases of old age can all be added expenses. Suddenly a “free” kitten becomes quite an investment!
If you have considered these issues and still think you would like to bring a feline companion into your life, you are ready to enjoy all of the amazing benefits being a cat caretaker will bring you. Bring a pet owner has bee shown to lower blood pressure, increase life expectancy and decrease depression. Nothing in the world feels quite so cozy as having a purring kitty sleeping in your lap. Many cat owners even consider their pets to be like children to them. Far from trying to deter you from adopting a new cat we believe the responsible care of a pet imparts immeasurable benefits on both sides of the equation. If you have any questions about any of these issues, please contact us at Albuquerque Cat Clinic. Our adoption advice is free!
Vaccines are an important part of the preventative care program for your cat. In recent years, questions have been raised about tumors in cats, called fibrosarcomas, that may have been induced by vaccination. These tumors are a very rare occurrence. At Albuquerque Cat Clinic, we believe in assessing each cat’s risk for contracting contagious diseases and vaccinating in accordance with the recommendations of the American Association of Feline Practitioners to reduce the risk of your cat developing fibrosarcoma. We use only non-adjuvanted vaccinations, which we believe helps further reduce the risks for your cat. If you are concerned about these risks, we urge you to visit www.aafponline.com and read the 2000 Vaccine Protocol Recommendations under Practice Guidelines. We will work hard with you to develop a vaccine program for your cat that provides the greatest opportunity for a long, healthy life.
Currently, feral cat overpopulation is at a crisis level in the United States. Feral, or wild cats pose serious public health hazards as well as contributing to the heart-breaking deaths of thousands of cats from starvation, disease and human cruelty.
At Albuquerque Cat Clinic, we believe it is imperative to do our part to control pet overpopulation. We strongly recommend you have your cat spayed or neutered before the age of sexual maturity at six months. Not only is this a social responsibility, it also prevents the appearance of unwanted behaviors, such as roaming, yowling, urine marking and destructiveness later in your pet’s life.
If you decide to leave your cat intact for breeding purposes, please do your part by making sure your pet is confined indoors to prevent unwanted litters.
Cats have very specific nutritional requirements. They are the closest to being pure carnivores of any domestic animal. In general, any high quality commercial cat food will meet your cat’s needs. We do not recommend feeding an all-meat diet, as this leads to calcium deficiency and brittle bones. Dog food is also inadequate, as cats require special amino acids as well as a much higher protein content.
Obesity is a very prevalent problem in the pet cat population and can lead to serious health problems. If you notice your cat gaining weight, contact us for weight control options. If you have an obese cat that suddenly stops eating, contact us immediately, as this can be a sign of a serious medical problem.
At times, we at Albuquerque Cat Clinic may recommend a prescription diet as an integral part of a comprehensive treatment plan. It is very important that dietary recommendations be followed. If you have questions or would like options to your current food, please ask us.
Parasite control is a vital element in the protection of your cat’s health.
As kittens, many cats carry numerous intestinal parasites either obtained from their mother or exposure in the environment. Some of these parasites are transmittable to humans. For this reason, at your kitten’s first visit we will perform a fecal test to diagnose any parasitism early on and immediately begin appropriate treatment.
When you call to schedule your appointment we will instruct you on how to obtain a fresh fecal sample.
External parasites can be an issue throughout your cat’s life. Even if your cat is an indoor kitty, fleas, ticks and mosquitoes can be carried into your home by you or other family pets. Because of the seriousness of the diseases these pests can carry, Albuquerque Cat Clinic recommends year-round prevention for external parasites.
As your cat ages, annual examinations become even more important to the maintenance of his or her comfort and well-being. After your cat reaches the age of seven years, we will recommend bi-annual or more frequent exams to stay on top of existing or impending health problems.
Early diagnosis and treatment of geriatric diseases is the cornerstone of senior care. For this reason, we at Albuquerque Cat Clinic strongly advise annual blood and urine tests for cats over the age of seven years to aid in the early detection of common feline diseases such as diabetes mellitus, renal disease and hyperthyroidism. All of these diseases are manageable if discovered early.
We also advise yearly comprehensive oral and dental health assessment and treatment at each exam. This is especially important in geriatric pets, as their immune systems are less able to handle the infections that come with neglected teeth.
We strongly believe that your cat deserves to be kept as healthy and comfortable as possible during his or her golden years. We will work hard with you to formulate a plan of care to make this a reality.
In recent years, we have come to know that dental health maintenance is one of the most important things that we as veterinarians and you as cat owners can do to prolong your cat’s life.
Unlike humans, cats do not have the benefit of daily brushing and flossing to rid the mouth of harmful debris and bacteria. Because of this, dental cleaning and evaluation at a veterinarian’s office on a regular basis is the best way to obtain the benefits of a healthy mouth.
There are several reasons why dental care is so important to your cat. The first, of course, is that unhealthy teeth and gums can be very uncomfortable to your pet, even leading to loss of appetite and weight loss in severe cases. Also, when not regularly cleaned, the teeth and gums build up large numbers of bacteria in the form of tartar. In the last ten years it has been discovered that these bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause serious damage to heart valves, liver and kidneys. We believe this explains many cases of heart and kidney disease previously just chalked up to “old age.”
Dental prophylaxis is a procedure performed in our office under general anesthesia. Your cat’s teeth are scaled to remove tartar, then polished to help delay further plaque formation. A complete set of intraoral dental radiographs are taken to evaluate the teeth for tooth resorption, periodontal disease, fractures and other signs of disease. The doctor then completes a thorough intraoral exam, probing all of the teeth, and performs any treatments or extractions that may be necessary. Every effort is made to give you an accurate estimate prior to your cat’s dental treatment, but please understand that most of the significant diagnostics are performed once your cat is already under anesthesia. It is not uncommon to find problems we could not have predicted prior to the procedure. It is extremely important that you try to be available for us to contact during this procedure to discuss any additional treatments that might be recommended.
Anesthesia for dental procedures will be subject to the same requirements for pre-operative blood work as other surgical procedures.