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Cats & Kittens

Our curious cats

Cats are a law unto themselves. They bestow affection on their own terms. They cooperate when and if they choose. Cats are unique, and we love them for it!

Providing top class veterinary care for our feline patients, in a caring, sensitive manner is our aim. We are accredited as a Cat Friendly Clinic at the Silver Level, demonstrating our commitment to looking after our cat patients to the highest standard. Feline medicine and surgery have undergone such advances in recent years, as to make their care almost unrecognisable to vets not up to date with modern thinking.

Part of the Cat Friendly Clinic programme is that every accredited practice is a member of International Cat Care. We all keep up to date on the advances in diagnosis and therapeutics which are transforming the lives of those entrusted to our care. No longer is kidney failure a death sentence. No longer do we need to wonder how to treat an overactive thyroid effectively. Cancer treatments can save lives, and provide many months or years of comfortable good quality life, to cases which even a few years ago had only euthanasia as a realistic option.

We have small diameter endoscopes, both rigid and flexible, to facilitate imaging even up a cat’s nose, or down their narrow airways! We have a high quality colour Doppler ultrasound which we can use to characterise heart problems in cats – again something almost of science fiction ten short years ago!

At Cedarmount, we are very experienced dealing with the tricky feline case. Cats can be very challenging – they can present as simply dull, off form and off their food, signs which can reflect merely a mild insignificant ailment, or a life-threatening disease. The challenge is to recognise the difference, and diagnose the disease rapidly and accurately.

As cats get older, many will develop hypertension, due to thyroid, renal or other issues. In many cases the vet will suspect this because during their annual check up at booster vaccination time, a gallop rhythm will be detected. Correctly managed, hypertension is not a problem – left untreated it accelerates kidney failure, and causes blindness and seizures.

In Northern Ireland, as we are seeing progressively warmer winters, fleas have become a year round problem. If your cat gets outside, he/she will catch fleas, and bring them home to live! The only effective way to stop it is to use preventative flea treatments available from the practice. We strongly advise against flea collars, or any permethrin-based flea product (these latter are toxic and can be fatal) – many of the pet shop/supermarket products contain these dangerous compounds – ask us for safe, effective alternatives.

Every year we see cats poisoned by pet-shop flea products incorrectly administered – not all poisoned cats survive. We sell products containing fipronil that work even though they are never absorbed into the skin/bloodstream – thus being exceptionally safe for use in cats.

  • Vaccinations
  • Spaying and Neutering
  • Spaying and Neutering - what happens on the day?
  • Spaying and Neutering - your instructions on the day
  • Feline Urinary Health
  • Have you got a new kitten?

Vaccinations

At Cedarmount, we are all only too aware how common cat flu and feline enteritis is in unvaccinated cats are. Cat flu is not just a heavy cold – it can, and does kill. Feline enteritis (the cat version of Parvo in dogs) is an horrific illness with a very high mortality rate – cats and kittens who contract this literally slough the lining to their bowel. We strongly recommend that all kittens have a primary vaccination course at 9 and 12 weeks for these easily preventable diseases.

Any cat who will be allowed access to the outside is at risk from FeLV infection. This virus can cause severe illness and death – including leukaemia, tumours and anaemia. Again, it is easily prevented by vaccination – something we believe is vital for all indoors/outdoors cats. Thankfully we are seeing less of this awful disease these days – something which is due entirely, we believe, to increased vaccine usage.

The vaccine we have chosen to use, is the most modern, manufactured and supplied by Merial, a multinational pharmaceutical company with decades of experience in animal health. It`s FeLV component is unique, and confers excellent protection. As a non-adjuvanted vaccine, we believe that it minimizes vaccine site reactions, and the risks that can be attendant to them. It is a major advance over vaccines that went before – we see very, very few adverse reactions to this vaccine. We are happy to recommend it to all our clients. Please ask for advice.

Feline Aids infection is very prevalent in Bangor and Ards – there is no vaccine to prevent this infection which is passed on by cat bites (there is no known human health risk from this virus). Early neutering minimizes fighting, and is the best prevention we have at the moment from this debilitating infection.

Sadly we do not have any current vaccine for feline infectious peritonitis – we hope the vaccine currently being used in the USA may prove efficacious, and receive a European licence.

Spaying and Neutering

Neutered pets often live longer, and make better companions. Worldwide, the trend driven by rescue shelters and animal charities is to neuter earlier and earlier. For our feline friends this has largely remained without controversy.

The Cats Protection Northern Ireland-wide scheme enables cats to be neutered for as little as £5. This offer is available if you are receiving state benefits, are on a low income or are a student or pensioner living in Northern Ireland. This is a voucher scheme and at times the vouchers can be in short supply so contact us to check availability.

In Tom cats neutering will:

  • Stop development of that awful Tom cat scent in the urine
  • Reduce territorial fighting (and thus reduce risk of contracting Feline Aids (FIV))
  • Reduce territorial urine spraying/marking
  • Reduce tendency to wander far from home (so reducing risks of car accidents)
  • Reduce numbers of unwanted kittens

In Queen cats spaying will:

  • Stop your cat having unwanted litters of kittens – something she will do if not spayed
  • Reduce unwanted attention (and resultant smell) from entire Tom cats in the area
  • Stop her “calling” – that distressing wail known as caterwauling

Spaying and Neutering - what happens on the day?

At Cedarmount, we are very proud of the care we give these wee ones on the day of their spay/neuter. We aim to minimise your worry, and to maximise their comfort and safety. The cost of the procedure is exceptionally low, and kept low on purpose. We don’t want to continue as a society with the flood of unwanted kittens we used to have every year.

What you get for your money:

  • reassurance that we use the very latest anaesthetics and painkillers
  • reassurance that we are all very, very experienced surgeons
  • a full cardiovascular examination before the operation to check for any concerns with the heart which might impact on the anaesthetic
  • a fully qualified vet nurse (Registered Veterinary Nurse, RVN) patient-side throughout the operation and recovery
  • operation performed in premises passed by an RCVS inspector (because we are members of the voluntary RCVS Practice Standards Scheme)
  • a full, monitored general anaesthetic
  • tiny wounds with no skin sutures in toms or queens
  • a warm comfortable environment for continually monitored recovery
  • Elizabethan collar sent home on discharge just in case they need it. The truth is that since the pain relief we give is so good, most do not bother their wounds, so don’t need the collar. We are very happy to refund the small cost for any collars returned unused.
  • the most modern pain relief on the day of the operation
  • follow up pain relief for a few days at home – importantly this latter aspect is frequently overlooked by many practices.       ‚Äč

Cats Deserve Pain Relief Too

The International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) have published a firm guidance statement that all cat spay/castrates need proper pain relief for two to three days post op. Without oral pain relief administered at home these wee kittens suffer more discomfort and distress than necesssary. No-one wants that: not owners, nor vets/nurses, and certainly not the kittens themselves!

If you have any questions about any aspect of the procedure, please do not sit and worry, simply ask us!

All animals which are neutered at Cedarmount will be given strong pain relief by injection, and this can be topped up with oral pain killers as necessary. You will be given appropriate advice when you collect your pet after the operation. In the majority of cases, the use of modern anaesthesia, pain relief, and the application of gentle tissue handling during the procedures, facilitates discharge home on the same day as the operation. Occasional animals will require an overnight stay, but nearly all are done as day procedures.

We send all animals home with an Elizabethan collar or a nice comfy body suit (Dogease) to assist in minimising any interference with the surgical wound. We are proud of our surgery, most wounds have no skin sutures, utilising a combination of dissolving buried sutures, and flexible tissue adhesives. This greatly reduces the animals desire to lick the wound. No-one wants to have to re-suture a wound – it is your responsibility to stop any animal removing the sutures – please use the collar provided if you think he/she is/may lick excessively at wound.

If, in the unlikely event an animal does work at a wound sufficiently badly to open it, immediately place the collar on, and call for advice. Most are not emergencies and can be left to the next available appointment to be assessed. The exception to this would be in a situation where a body cavity were opened, or where the animal is in pain. Thankfully, such cases are extremely rare. If in doubt, call for advice. Telephone advice is always free!

Spaying and Neutering - your instructions on the day

As advised, we ask that you provide no food from bedtime the night before, but access to water is allowed until the first human is up in the morning. Bring them into Cedarmount securely in a basket/carrier between 8:30am and 9:30am. We do not recommend carrying any cat in your arms in the carpark or the clinic: what if a dog were to frighten the kitten and he/she were to escape? If your kitten travels badly consider asking us for some Feliway which is available in travel size – this pheromone really works to calm a frightened pussy: calmer but not sedated so very, very safe!

We will text or call you after the operation so you know all is well. Discharge is normally by arrangement between 2:30pm and 7:00pm the same day.

You will be given written post-op instructions. There is an emergency service available in the exceptionally unlikely event that you need advice or help after hours. There are very few complications of these procedures at Cedarmount – please be assured your wee one is in safe hands throughout the day!

And finally…….after the operation, kittens need fewer calories, so we strongly recommend a diet change to avoid piling on the pounds! Overweight cats struggle to play, and run the risk of diabetes and  arthritis. We will give you two pouches and a bag of our premium Royal Canin food on discharge – totally free! Yes –  that is about two weeks of free food with every operation!

We also send you home with a voucher worth £3.00 off the cost of your first bag of neutered food. It really does make a difference to the waistline…and helps coat shiny, keep teeth clean and bladders stone-free! Oh, and cats love both the dried and the pouches, a real win-win all round!!

We work very hard to make the experience a positive one for you and your pet. If we fall short in some way please do let us know so that we can try and put things right. If we have done a good job for you. please consider leaving us a Google Review these can really make a difference for us. Thanks.

Feline Urinary Health

Feline Urinary Health problems in our feline friends is something that we see very commonly at Cedarmount .

Signs you may notice if your cat has a urinary tract problem include,

  • Urinating in unusual places,
  • Frequent visits to the litter tray,
  • Painful straining to pass urine
  • Blood in the urine
  • Crying in distress or pain

Most cases of urinary problems come under the general term “Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease” or FLUTD. This is a very painful syndrome caused by inflammation of the urinary tract in cats and can include the bladder or the urethra or both. (The urethra is the tube that removes the urine from the bladder). In male cats the urethra can become completely blocked which is a real emergency.

Whilst there are many causes of FLUTD, the vast majority of are due to “idiopathic cystitis”. This ultimately means the cat experiences an inflamed bladder (cystitis) of which the cause is unknown (idiopathic). Further causes of FLUTD, in order of how commonly they occur include:

  • Bladder Stones and Urethral Plugs
  • Behavioural Problems especially stress.
  • Anatomical Problems or Tumours
  • Infection

Lab tests are usually required to identify the underlying cause. This will always begin with a standard urine sample as there is usually some trace of blood in the sample but we also look for microscopic crystals, protein levels and the concentration, or Specific Gravity (SG). The next steps may involve x-rays or ultrasound scans to identify if there are any larger stones, tumours or other problems present. These tests may require sedation. Infection is the least likely cause, less than 5% of cases, but may be more likely in older, female cats.

At Cedarmount we often won’t prescribe antibiotics unless we have a diagnosis of an infection, which we can only do by taking a sterile sample of urine directly from the bladder with a small needle. This very safe procedure is called cystocentesis and most cats allow it to be performed without sedation.

The majority of cats will require anti-inflammatory medication to reduce the pain associated with the disease and many will benefit from nutraceutical products to improve the protective layers inside the bladder. Special diets can be very useful to promote more dilute urine, reduce the formation of crystals in the urine and adjust the pH or acidity to a more appropriate level. In cases associated with stress we will sometimes prescribe anxiety reducing pheromone diffusers or anxiolytic drugs.

In all cases of FLUTD it is highly important that you minimise any stress your cat may be experiencing. Stress is a well-known trigger factor that can precipitate flare ups of urinary tract disease in cats that are prone to idiopathic cystitis. The things that stress your cat may not be the same things that stress you, so you really have to think as if you are a cat to be able to minimise their stressors. A few stressful situations for cats can include:

  • An abrupt diet change,
  • Living with lots of other cats,
  • Insufficient litter trays compared to the number of cats in the household – you should have at least one more than the number of cats in the house,
  • New additions to the household (pets, children and furniture)
  • Visitors
  • A forced change in their routine
  • Aggression shown by other cats – even cats that are outside
  • A change in the position or content of their litter tray

When a cat has FLUTD it is also important to encourage them to drink plenty of water. Drinking more helps to flush the bladder through and dilute any noxious compounds that may otherwise build up in your cat’s urine. 

Have you got a new kitten?

Bringing a new kitten home is very exciting! Lots of people want to give you advice – the breeder, your friends, the pet shop – please remember, we are best placed to give accurate, professional guidance on all matters catty – please do ask us first – not all advice is good advice!

Free kitten check

Just like children, kittens can be born with congenital defects such as cleft palate, umbilical hernias, hole in the heart – we offer a free first visit health check, designed to pick these things up early on – most are not going to be a problem. We need to recognise those that might restrict life expectancy or affect quality of life. We will advise on vaccination during this visit.

Insurance

These days, good quality veterinary care does not come cheap! We strongly recommend pet health insurance, taken out young, before any signs of illness are present. The features most important in choosing a policy are:

  • Does it cover illnesses for lifetime or just 12 months?
  • Does it exclude dental disease (the most common reason to make a claim?
  • Has the company offering the cover got the necessary track record in the pet health market?

Ask us for advice – we can issue a free cover note on your first visit – well worth the peace of mind. When your pet is ill the last thing you want to be worrying about is the money.

Parasites

All kittens have worms – that’s how worms exist. They catch them from their mums. They can die from intestinal parasite burdens. Ask us for advice. At Cedarmount we follow the BSAVA guidelines on worming.

Feeding your Kitten

We strongly recommend feeding a good quality commercial cat food, formulated for growth, and with the correct protein, calcium and phosphorus ratios ideal for each type of breed. Ask us for advice. We stock Hills Science Plan and Royal Canin – both excellent high quality diets from companies which have good track records in pet health nutrition.

Toilet Training

Kittens are naturally clean – all you need to do usually is confine him/her in a small area with a litter tray – and nature will take its course. If you are having problems – talk to us early.

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