As part of Total Pet Health Month, in partnership with flea and tick control from Norbrook, we’ve compiled some of your most frequently asked cat health and wellbeing queries to put to Rebekah Dudek, Veterinary Advisor for Norbrook Laboratories.
Q. I’m worried my cat might have fleas so I’m going to treat our house. My cat doesn’t go upstairs, should I still treat upstairs and how long should the house be empty after treating?
Rebecca says: Fleas can easily be carried by clothing or household items (including your vacuum cleaner!) to areas your pet has never ventured. It is therefore important when treating the house, to treat the WHOLE house.
Top tips for household treatment are:
1. Treat all of your pets with a topical flea treatment
2. Wash all of your pets bedding
3. Vacuum thoroughly, including in all cracks, crevices and along skirting board edges
4. Remove animals, children and cover or remove fish from the house until treated areas are dry.
5. Close all windows and doors. Using a reputable household treatment, spray lightly over all areas of the house, including in cracks and crevices, along skirting board edges, sofa’s, mattresses, curtains etc. It is also a great idea to spray the inside of your vacuum and don’t forget the family car!
6. Leave the room for 30 minutes with the windows and doors closed
7. Open windows and doors after 30 minutes to allow treated areas to dry.
8. Once dry, vacuum again
Q. Can cats catch colds?
Rebecca says: Cats can certainly suffer from colds, but the type of viruses that causes the common colds cats suffer from are different to those which affect humans. The illness is not communicable between species – or, at least, a cold virus that can has not yet been discovered.
Our pets may suffer the same symptoms as us if infected with a cold virus – sneezing, coughing, runny or stuffy nose, watery eyes. It is worth mentioning however, that other conditions can cause similar signs. So if concerned, it is always worth taking your pet to the vet for a check-up.
Q. Is there a best time/age to get a cat spayed? I live in an area with lots of other roaming cats and I’m concerned about letting her out.
Rebecca says: Most vets suggest not letting a cat out unsupervised until they are speyed. Not only will this prevent unwanted pregnancies, it will also act to attach the cat more to your house, making them less likely to stray.
It is great you are thinking about neutering as it is good for many reasons over and above unwanted pregnancies, including helping to reduce or eliminate the risk of many forms of serious, often fatal diseases, for example testicular or breast cancers and pyometras. It also reduces the will to defend territories leading to less fight injuries.
The typical recommended age for neutering is 6 months. Some practices in areas that are heavily populated will neuter even earlier than this to prevent early pregnancies which can sometimes occur.
It is worth noting that a common misconception is an animal should have a litter before being neutered. There is absolutely no benefit to this and actually, a lot of risk involved. It is therefore always better to neuter before pregnancy occurs.
Q. My cat seems to eat grass to help her be sick every day. Could this be furball related and if so how should I best treat her?
Rebecca says: Fur balls are very common in cats, especially if they are long haired or pay particular attention to their grooming regime. Classical signs are a cat being frequently sick, not necessary containing fur every time.
If this is what is affecting your cat, firstly you can help out by brushing her daily yourself. This should help to remove excess loose hair so that less is swallowed when she performs her own grooming rituals.
Secondly, there are products available which contain very mild laxatives, softening and coating agents to help prevent fur balls sticking in the throat and stomach, enabling them to be passed out naturally through the faeces. These tend to be in the form of pastes or gels. The best way to administer this to a cat is to squirt the desired dose onto the top of their paw – they will then groom it straight off. Dose done!
Q. Are there any clear symptoms cats will exhibit if they are allergic to fleas?
Rebecca says: Yes! Often before you even notice a flea problem you will start to feel small scabs on your cats skin, especially around their rump area. You may or may not notice an attempt to over groom, or itching in this area as well. Eventually the scabs and over grooming progress to a loss of the undercoat, leaving a balding rump area with only main guard hairs left, if anything at all. Even at this stage fleas may still not be obvious!
However, a cat balding over the rump with small scabs and/ or over grooming and itching will be a tell tale sign to any vet that your cat is suffering from flea allergic dermatitis.
Q. You hear so many different things about how often you should treat cats for fleas and ticks. What’s the truth and what’s the best course of action?
Rebecca says: The best way to treat for fleas and ticks is to ask advice on the most suitable product from your veterinarian. Often they will have a selection of prescription only products available which will provide fast, effective, reliable and most importantly safe treatments for your pet.
Q. Where is the best place to go to buy veterinary treatments such as flea and tick treatments? And is there a shelf-life on treatments?
Rebecca says: The best place to buy veterinary treatments is your vet. They will know your pet’s history and so are able to give appropriate advice on tailoring medications specifically to the needs of your pet. The medicines you buy from a vet are also guaranteed to be effective, reliable and safe, containing exactly what it says on the outside packaging.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding medications, your vet should always be able to answer these for you as well. In other words, from your vet you do not receive just a product, but a complete package of help alongside.
All medications, inclusive of flea and worming treatments have a shelf life. This should be stated on the pack in the form of a date. Always stick to this and do not use out of date products. Not only can the safety not be guaranteed, but the effectiveness as well.