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After hours consultations for emergencies

We operate an emergency service for cats that require veterinary attention after hours. This service operates from our Mt Gravatt hospital and is available for our clients as well as general public. Call 3349 0811 and listen for instructions

Vaccination in Cats

Regular vaccination is an important part of routine health care for your cat and helps to ensure your cat remains fit and well. Many serious and life-threatening diseases can be prevented by vaccination. In Australia, there are a number of vaccines that are currently available for use in cats to protect against the following diseases:-

Feline Herpes Virus Type 1 (FHV-1; feline rhinotracheitis virus)
Feline Calicivirus ( FCV)
Feline Panleukopenia (feline infectious enteritis; feline parvovirus)
Feline Chlamydial Infection
Feline Leukaemia Virus ( FeLV)
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

How do vaccines work?

Vaccines work by exposing the body's immune system to a particular modified infectious agent.  This causes the white blood cells to react to fight the infection by producing proteins (antibodies) which are able to bind to and neutralise the infectious agent (antigen).  Antibodies work together with other white blood cells (lymphocytes) which are able to identify and kill cells within the body which have become infected by the agent (cell mediated response).  After vaccine exposure, the body 'remembers' the particular antigens so that when they are encountered again it can mount a very rapid and strong immune response preventing the cat from showing clinical signs of disease.  It is important to realise that most vaccines work by preventing your cat from becoming ill and may not prevent it from becoming infected.  This means that if a vaccinated cat becomes infected with ‘cat flu’ it may still shed the disease producing organism which can infect unvaccinated animals which will then become ill.  This is not a major consideration in the pet cat but may be important in the breeding colony.

What is the difference between the various types of vaccine?

The 2 major types of vaccines for use in cats are

Modified live vaccines- these vaccines contain live organisms that are weakened (attenuated) so that they do not produce disease but will multiply in the cat's body. It is not advisable to use modified live vaccines in pregnant queens or cats whose immune system is not working properly e.g. cats infected by feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).

Killed (inactivated) vaccines - these vaccines are prepared using fully virulent organisms that have been killed by chemicals, UV light or radiation.  Because, on their own, they do not give such a high level of protection, a chemical (adjuvant) is added to the vaccine to stimulate a better immune response.

 

When should my kitten be vaccinated?

Kittens should be first vaccinated at 6 to 8 weeks and then every 4 weeks until they are 16 weeks or older. For most kittens this will mean 3 vaccinations. A kitten will not be fully protected until 7-10 days after the last vaccination.  Under specific circumstances we may advise an alternative regime.

How often should booster vaccinations be given?

Guidelines for booster vaccinations are constantly being debated around the world. Vaccines currently used in Australia are labelled by the manufacturer to be given every 12 months. We support this and recommend that after the initial series of kitten vaccinations that cats be vaccinated every 12 months.

Will vaccination always protect my cat?

Vaccination will protect the vast majority of cats but under some circumstance vaccine breakdowns will occur.  There are many reasons for this including:-

1.       Variations between different strains of viruses - this is particularly true of FCV where many different strains exist, not all of which are covered by the vaccines available.

2.       Maternally derived antibodies - when a kitten is born it is protected in its early life by antibodies passed from the queen in the first milk (colostrum).  These antibodies can also prevent vaccination from working properly. The amount of colostral antibodies that each kitten receives is variable and so the age at which a kitten can respond to vaccination successfully will also vary.  This is part of the reason why two or three injections are given in the primary course.

3.       The cat was not healthy at the time of vaccination - 'stress' can prevent a good response to vaccination.  For this reason your vet will give your cat a physical examination before a vaccination is given.

4.       The cat may also be pre-infected with the ‘cat flu’ virus and incubating the disease.

If you feel your cat has contracted an infection for which it is vaccinated then let your veterinary surgeon know.  Investigation to establish why vaccination has possibly failed can be undertaken.

What are the risks of vaccination?

Generally the risks of vaccination are extremely low.  Severe reactions being very rare.  Many cats experience mild reactions at the site of vaccination where a lump may occur that can be painful.  Generalised reactions are sometimes seen, the cat being quiet, lame and often off its food for 24 hours after vaccination.  Occasionally more severe signs occur including vomiting, diarrhoea and profound depression.  Under these circumstances your veterinary practice should be informed.  Vaccine reactions appear to occur more commonly in kittens and some purebred cats.

Which are the most important vaccinations to have?

We suggest all cats be vaccinated against feline herpes virus, feline calicivirus and feline panleukopaenia. This is often referred to as a F3 vaccination.
For outdoor cats, we recommend vaccination against feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).

Feline respiratory virus infection
Disease is caused by feline herpes virus or feline calicivirus and is commonly termed 'cat flu'.  It is a common disease in unvaccinated cats and can cause long-term problems, including chronic sneezing, nasal discharge, inflamed eyes and severe gum problems.

Feline panleukopenia infection
This is now an uncommon disease that causes a severe and often fatal gastro-enteritis.  Vaccination provides a high level of long lasting protection.

Feline immunodeficiency virus infection
All outdoor cats are susceptible to infection with FIV if bitten by an infected cat unless        protected by vaccination against the virus. The initial vaccination is followed up by 2       more vaccinations 2-4 weeks apart and then with annual boosters. FIV vaccines can be          given at the same time as regular F3 vaccinations.

Feline Chlamydial infection
This tends to be a particular problem in colony cats. Chlamydial infection causes a painful inflammation and swelling of the conjunctiva (the membrane around the eye) and has been associated with infertility in queens. This vaccine can make many cats sick for several weeks and only suggest vaccination in certain circumstances.

Feline leukaemia virus infection
FeLV causes suppression of the immune system, cancer of the white bloods cells and          solid tumors. It is an extremely rare disease in Australia seen mainly in colonies. We    only suggest vaccination for FeLV for at-risk cats.

Regular vaccination is an important part of routine health care for your cat and helps to ensure your cat remains fit and well.

Dental Disease in Cats

Dental disease is one of the most frequent ailments seen by veterinary surgeons.  Most cats over two years of age who are fed exclusively with commercial cat food have some degree of dental disease. The most common problems are:

  • periodontal disease
  • gingivitis
  • neck lesions (also called resorptive lesions or odontoclastic lesions).

What signs am I likely to see that indicate my cat might have dental disease?

If your cat has dental disease you might notice:

  • Lack of interest in eating.
  • Reluctance to eat after approaching his food bowl.
  • Obvious caution or discomfort while chewing.
  • Dropping food from her mouth.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Dribbling, possibly with blood in the saliva.
  • Bad breath.
  • Pawing at his mouth or shaking his head.
  • Weight loss

What usually causes dental disease?

The most common cause of dental disease in cats is tartar accumulation. Just like people, cats accumulate bacterial plaque on the surface of their teeth.  If plaque is not removed, it quickly becomes mineralised to form tartar (also called calculus).

Tartar is easily identified by its light or dark brown colour - it is normally first seen at the gum edge, especially on the back teeth (premolars & molars). In severe cases it may entirely cover the teeth.

The accumulation of tartar and bacteria on the teeth surfaces will, sooner or later, lead to infection and gingivitis (inflammation of the gums). If the disease is caught at this early stage, thorough professional veterinary treatment will permit a full recovery.

However, if gingivitis is allowed to persist untreated, then irreversible periodontal disease will occur. When that happens, the bone and ligaments that support the tooth are destroyed.  Eventually, your cat will start to lose her teeth.

Tooth sockets may become infected and your cat can get tooth abscesses, or even more severe problems.

Once periodontal disease starts, the degenerative changes cannot be reversed. These changes make it easier for more plaque and tartar to collect, resulting in further disease.

Is gingivitis always associated with dental disease?

Some kittens and adult cats may show a slight degree of redness, indicating mild gingivitis, just below the edge of the gum.  This can be normal if there is no other evidence of dental disease.

Some cats develop severe gingivitis with minimal signs of accompanying dental disease. This usually happens in pedigreed cats, although mixed breeds may develop gingivitis, too.  Sometimes the gingivitis extends beyond the gums to other areas of the mouth, such as the throat or tongue. It is probably caused by Feline Calicivirus infection. This condition is often very difficult to control and may require repeated or constant treatment.

What are tooth neck lesions?

Neck lesions result from a progressive destruction of the tooth substance.  Slowly deepening “holes” form in the teeth.  Eventually the sensitive parts of the tooth are exposed and the lesions become intensely painful.  Most of the time, the tooth has to be pulled.

The cause of tooth neck lesions is unknown, but poor oral hygiene is suspected to play a role.  Neck lesions are very common, especially as cats get older.

What should I do if my cat has signs of dental problems?

If you can see that your cat has evidence of tartar accumulation, gingivitis or is exhibiting any signs of mouth pain or discomfort then you should take it to your vet for a check-up. Your vet may advise examining and cleaning the cat’s teeth under general anaesthesia.

The rate of tartar accumulation is very variable between individual cats, and some cats may need to have their teeth cleaned on a regular basis (every 6-12 months)

What can I do to help prevent dental disease in my cat?

The best way to prevent dental disease is to keep your cat’s mouth as clean as possible and reduce the rate of tartar build up.  You can do this by including things in her diet that encourage chewing.  Chewing stimulates the production of saliva, which contains natural antibacterial substances.  In addition, the mechanical action of chewing helps scrape plaque and tartar from the teeth.

Some dietary options to help prevent dental disease are:

  • Tough pieces of meat and raw meaty bones, like chicken wings and necks.  These can be added to your cat’s diet several times a week.
  • Commercially prepared dry food that has been developed to prevent dental disease, such as:
    • Hills Science Diet T/D or Oral Care
    • Eukanuba Dental Defence System
    • Royal Canin Dental SO
  • Dental treats, such as Whiskas Dentabits

It’s best to introduce these foods at an early age.

Another way to help prevent dental disease is to have your cat vaccinated against Feline Calcivirus.

Intensive Care Hospitalisation

Our hospital at Mt Gravatt has a designated intensive care unit for the really sick cats with continuous monitoring overnight by one of our vets when required. Cats at Paddington and Clayfield that need attention overnight or on weekends, are transferred to the hospital at Mt Gravatt where we can keep a close eye on them. With no noisy dogs and staff who understand the special needs of hospitalised cats, the intensive care unit allows recovery of some really sick cats who may otherwise not have survived.

Surgery

From time to time, cats require surgery to diagnose or treat diseases. There are many differences between cats and dogs and, sadly, cats are often treated as just “small dogs. We focus on things like pain relief before, during and after surgery. Special nursing care, warm soft bedding, a quiet hospital area and attention to appetite are likely to make your cats surgical experience the best possible.
The management of many surgical conditions in cats is often very different to dogs. Understanding these differences allows us to provide the best possible outcome. We perform extensive soft tissue and orthopaedic surgeries and an operating surgical microscope allows us to do microsurgery when required. We accept referrals for any surgery and welcome referring vets to come and scrub in to theatre with their patients.

Treating Hyperthyroidism with Radioactive Iodine

An over active thyroid gland, hyperthyroidism, is the most common hormonal disease seen in cats and the best way to cure it is radioactive iodine. To find out if your cat is a good candidate, call us today and book an appointment. The waiting list for radioiodine therapy can sometimes be several months so book now. We require a 50% deposit with each booking and the account settled (total cost of therapy is approx $1400) before being discharged from hospital. See Radioiodine Inpatient and Outpatient for more details.

Diagnostic Imaging

We hope your cat never needs it, but sometimes special imaging is required to investigate and treat disease. Sophisticated equipment is used for many non-invasive techniques such as x-ray, ultrasound, endoscopy, colonoscopy and bronchoscopy to visualise internal areas and obtain samples of tissue or fluid for diagnosis. When required we have outpatient access to CT and MRI.

Diabetic Management

Is your cat’s diabetes being managed in the best possible way? Want expert advice and the best possible result? The Cat Clinic is a world leader in the treatment of feline diabetes and our research has changed the treatment outcomes of diabetic cats around the world. We can review your current treatment plan, work closely with your local vet or take over complete management.

Grooming and Clipping

These are usually done under a light general anaesthetic and can be combined with other short procedures such as dentals or lump removals. Cats can be clipped fully or alternatively have just their bellies clipped and the rest of their coat groomed thru.

Information for Anaesthesia

Your cat has been scheduled to have a procedure that requires an anaesthetic to be administered.

What You Need To Do

  1. Do not allow your cat to eat after 8 pm the night before the procedure.
  2. Water is allowed up until admission.
  3. Bring your cat in at the arranged time.
  4. Advise us of any problems your cat has had with anaesthesia in the past.
  5. Advise us of any drug allergies your cat has.
  6. If your cat is receiving medications ask us prior to giving them on the morning of the procedure. If in doubt DO NOT give the medication and advise us at admission.

In order to minimise the risks of anaesthesia our staff use only the best anaesthetic agents and equipment. Our staff will closely monitor your cat before, during and after the procedure. In some cats it is necessary to shave areas of fur for the placement of drips and some of the anaesthetic monitoring equipment. The areas that are often shaved are on the front legs, the wrist and under the tail. If blood tests need to be taken there may also be a shaved area under the neck. If a surgery is being performed there will be a large amount of fur shaved around the surgery site. Ultrasound examinations will also need to have fur shaved.

We routinely measure heart rate, breathing rate, blood oxygen levels, breath carbon dioxide levels, gum colour and refill, blood pressure and depth of anaesthesia. Measuring all of these allows us to identify and correct any abnormalities that can arise during anaesthesia before they become a problem. Despite taking all precautions it is possible that complications, including death, can still occur in very rare circumstances.

If you have any questions about your cats anaesthetic or procedure, please feel free to ask.