I’ve been thinking a lot about cats lately. We are changing our vaccine structure in order to make routine care more affordable, but we also made the vaccines free with an exam so we could focus our time and attention on other aspects of wellness care that are as important as vaccines. Cats are a little more nuanced than dogs – they hide disease well – and many owners are not educated about the diseases they get. I made this handout for the cats coming into our clinic, and thought I would share it here. The full handout is below – taking about heartworms, Feline Leukemia, and when to get what vaccines based on risk. If you don’t want to read it all, the nutshell is: twice yearly exams, yearly labwork, Revolution year round – read more for the full scoop. I hope you enjoy!
- Doc Cleland
At Briarcliff Animal Clinic, we believe that there is more to a healthy cat than vaccines. Routine wellness care can help keep your cat happy and healthy longer. Here are some guidelines to help you decide what is best for your cat in the future.
When to Vaccinate Again
-Rabies – Our adult rabies vaccine is labeled for every three years. If your cat is outdoor and is exposed to a great deal of wildlife or feral cats, we recommend this vaccine yearly.
-Feline “Distemper” (HCP) – Guidelines indicate that this vaccine is good for three years. However, if your cat is in a multiple cat household, goes outdoors, or may be exposed to other cats in the future we recommend this vaccine yearly.
-FeLV – If your cat goes outdoors or is frequently exposed to outdoor cats, the Feline Leukemia vaccine should be boostered yearly.
Physical Exams and Wellness Laboratory Testing
-Cats are masters at hiding disease. Since so much can change in a year, we recommend bi-annual nose-to-tail exams to ensure an illness isn’t creeping up on your cat.
-Wellness Laboratory Testing is recommended for every cat either yearly (under 7) or twice yearly (over 7) and can help detect hidden disease early. For example, kidney disease is very common in cats as they age, but can only be detected by a blood test.
Feline Leukemia/Feline Immunodeficiency Virus Testing (FeLV/FIV Combo Test)
-These viruses can suppress the immune system and become the root of many diseases. We recommend testing every cat at least once in their lifetime to make sure they are negative for these viruses.
-FIV is spread through bite wounds, while FeLV can be spread by casual contact (nose-to-nose)
-Outdoor cats who are frequently fighting or being exposed to other cats (stray, feral) should be tested yearly.
-Six months after any cat fight, we recommend testing for FeLV/FIV.
In the Southeast, even indoor-only cats get parasites. Most common parasites for cats include:
- Heartworms – Evidence shows that cats of all stages and lifestyles are getting heartworms in much higher numbers than previously indicated. Permanent changes to the heart and lungs, asthma-like symptoms, and even sudden death can occur in cats affected by heartworms. We recommend heartworm prevention year-round.
- Roundworms – Cats can get these parasites in a number of ways (even if they are indoor-only). Not only can they infect cats, but roundworms can also infect you. Since these parasites are not normally passed in the stool as intact worms, you can’t be sure your cat is parasite free. We recommend twice yearly checks of the feces to check for the microscopic eggs they pass.
- Fleas – Though more of a nuisance, fleas can still transmit disease and be very difficult to clear from the home once infested. We recommend year-round prevention for fleas.
Revolution – Prevents heartworms, kills roundworms, and prevents/kills fleas. It is given monthly on the back of the neck. We recommend this for every cat, monthly, year round!
If you have any questions about what is best for your cat, don’t hesitate to ask!