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Pet Health Care Articles

Common myths about your cats health...
Debunked!

September 23, 2011

Four common myths and facts about your cats health
 
 
1.
 
My cat is an indoor cat so he/she doesn’t need a physical exam or vaccines.
This is a very common misconception. In fact, a physical exam is one of the key factors to maintaining a healthy pet. During annual physical exams, the veterinarian examines every part of your pet; eyes, ears, skin, heart, and lungs just to state a few. During the exam, the doctor carefully documents details in the medical record about your pet. This provides a lasting resource to continually reference back to, as your pet ages.
 
Vaccinations are crucial to protect your pet against various potentially fatal diseases. The feline core vaccines are distemper and rabies. Rabies is a fatal disease for pets and humans. All cats and dogs over six months are legally required to be vaccinated for rabies. Many owners wonder how their cat could ever be exposed to rabies if they stay indoors. The answer is simple ~ it is not unheard of for a cat to ‘sneak’ out and therefore be exposed to not only rabies, but many diseases stray cats or wildlife carry. Additionally, there is always a chance, albeit a small one, that your indoor cat may be exposed to another animal that is a rabies carrier. Distemper, or FVRCP, is a combination vaccine for feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia. It is imperative that kittens receive a series of the FVRCP vaccines to ensure immunity, and then on a regular schedule suggested by the doctor. A common question ~ does my indoor cat need this vaccine ~ yes! Even indoor cats can be exposed to these viruses. The viruses are very stable in the environment, and therefore can be tracked into the house by shoes, clothing, etc., and transmitted to your indoor cat. 
 
For outdoor cats, we also give a vaccine to protect again Feline Leukemia, which is a very common and very contagious disease among cats.   
 
Annual exams and vaccination are paramount to ensuring your cats health.
 
2.
 
There’s no need to check a stool sample because if my cat had worms, I’d know it. OR …I don’t bring in an annual stool sample for analysis because my cat is indoors only.
Many times, there is no symptom of internal parasites present, which makes an annual stool test a critical part of your cat’s health. In a recent study of 116 cats, 60.4% had a species of tapeworms and 41.4% had roundworms when a fecal exam was preformed. Many of the studied cats had more than one parasite.
Pet’s can get internal parasites many ways including fleas, hunting rodents and exposure to feces of other animals (even if it’s on the bottom of a shoe that’s in the house!). Additionally, and of utmost importance, many internal parasites are zoonotic – which means that your pet could potentially transmit the parasite to a human member of the household. Parasitic infestations in humans can result in many health problems, especially for children, who tend to be more prone to transmission because their hands roam more places, including the floor.
Visit http://www.petsandparasites.org/cat-owners/ for more information.
 
3.
 
My cat is urinating outside the litter box out of spite or because he/she is naughty.
Inappropriate urination is an extremely frustrating problem cat owners often deal with at some point during their cat’s life. While cats can be described as finicky, fickle and sometimes moody, typically actions out of spite do not occur, even though it may seem it at the time. If your cat has been litter box trained for it’s life and there is a sudden change, it may very well be due to some type of physical change that you can’t see. Often times, cats with urinary issues first present with symptoms of urinating in inappropriate spots. A trip to the veterinarian should be considered if it’s more than just an isolated event.
 
If a physical issue is ruled out, your veterinarian can provide you with useful alternatives and ideas to help combat this problem, which may include changing the location or type of litter box or litter used.
 
 
4.
 
Heartworm is a dog disease.
Incorrect! Heartworm disease is not just a canine disease. Cats can in fact contract heartworm by mosquitos just like dogs. One difference between canine and feline heartworm disease is that there is not currently a treatment for cats that have contracted heartworm.   Just like intestinal parasites, you shouldn’t consider your cat protected if they don’t go outdoors. It is very common for mosquitoes to sneak inside the house, which makes our indoor pets susceptible as well. 
 
The good news is that there is Heartgard for cats, a monthly preventative treat that you can give your cat to protect against heartworm.
 
Visit http://www.petsandparasites.org/cat-owners/heartworms.html for more information on feline heartworm.