Are you thinking of getting a new cat or kitten? Or perhaps you’ve already got one and want to find out how to care for them.
Cairns Cats experience a number of problems which are not common in many parts of Australia, such as Cane Toads, Tick Paralysis, Gecko Tapeworm and heartworm. Fleas are also a year round problem in Cairns, and parasite control is especially important in our tropical climate. Feline AIDS and Leukemia infection are both common so vaccination against these is essential for all outdoor cats
All cats should be vaccinated against Panleukopenia (which causes deadly feline enteritis) and the three organisms that cause Cat Flu, Feline Rhinotracheitis virus, Calicivirus and Chlamydia Psittaci. We recommend vaccination at 8 weeks and repeat at 12 weeks, then annual boosters thereafter.
Outdoor cats must also be vaccinated against Feline AIDS (FIV) and Feline Leukemia (FeLV). These viruses are transmitted by grooming, fighting and mating, and cause severe disease and early death. These infections are common in outdoor cats (over a third of cats we test are positive to one or both viruses)
Annual vaccination is essential for for outdoor cats and cats which board.
If your cat has not been vaccinated for Feline AIDS and Leukemia a blood test may be required.
Read more about cat vaccinations
Heartworm prevention for cats
Heartworm is not recognised as a major threat in cats partly due to the difficulties in diagnosing Heartworm in the cat and partly because of the vagueness of the symptoms. However it can occur and is preventable by the monthly application of Advocate to the skin on the head. Advocate also controls fleas, roundworms, hookworms and ear mites in cats.
Intestinal Worms & Spirometra Tapeworm
Cats can be infected with Roundworm, Hookworm, Whipworm and Tapeworm, all of which can cause severe damage to the digestive system. In young kittens they can be fatal. They also can be a threat to you and your children. Common sense hygiene and regular worming can prevent this problem.
Worm kittens fortnightly at 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 weeks.
Then monthly till 6 months old.
Worm adults every three months.
We recommend 1/2 Milbemax and 1 1/2 Tapeworm tablets/4kg of cat or alternatively monthly Advocate and 2 Tapeworm tablets every 3 months.
The tapeworm component of cat worming paste is not sufficient to kill the tapeworm called Spirometra Erinacei that cats contract from the ingestion of lizards and geckos. These worms are unique to Coastal areas north of Sydney. The tablets are bitter and hard to administer so we produce a capsule containing all the required tablets. Many people struggle to worm their cat and prefer to bring your cat to us every 3 months and let us give the tablets!
Read more about worms in cats
Paralysis Ticks (Ixodes Holocyclus)
Cats only get one type of tick in Cairns, the Paralysis Tick, commonly known as the Scrub tick, Shellback or Paralysis tick. This tick injects a nerve toxin and can cause paralysis and death. The season for these ticks runs from July to December though they do occur throughout the year. They are carried by Bandicoots and therefore are most commonly picked up in bushy areas.
NO product on the market guarantees 100% protection so it is important to search your cat daily.
We recommend Frontline spray every 3 weeks or Frontline spot-on every 2 weeks.
Learn more about paralysis ticks and tick paralysis
Fleas in Cats
Fleas are a year long problem in Cairns. When controlling fleas it is necessary to treat not only the adults on the animal but the juvenile stages in the environment to prevent re-Infestation.
We recommend Advantage (or Advocate) used monthly as this product will affect several stages of the flea life cycle.
It is essential to use an effective flea product like Advantage monthly even when there don’t seem to be fleas, or you may face a plague during the peak flea season.
Remember if ticks are a problem for your cat then you should use a tick preventative like Frontline every 2 weeks instead.
Feeding Your Cat
Cats are carnivores! They require high levels of animal protein and some animal fats in their diet. Cats can’t survive as vegeterians or on dog food alone.
Most commercial foods are completely balanced and made of good quality products. However you get what you pay for. We recommend Hill’s Science diet. This food is of a much higher quality than the supermarket foods, you feed less of it and best of all your cat will love it!
It is important that your cat learns to chew to minimise the risk of dental disease as it ages. Most cats will enjoy raw chicken wings or chicken necks!
Cats don’t need to drink milk but if you want to give your cat milk use puppy/kitten milk to minimise problems like diarrhoea.
Kittens should be fed four times daily till 12 weeks then twice daily till 6 months. The adult cat only needs to be fed once daily. There should always be plenty of clean water available.
Microchipping your cat
For permanent identification we can implant a small microchip under your cat’s skin. This works in a similar way to a bar code and can be scanned by the council, vets or the RSPCA so your pet can be traced back to you. This can be done at any age. This is especially important if your cat has received the FIV vaccine as it will then test positive to FIV and be euthenased if he is lost and turns up at the RSPCA.
Microchipping is now compulsory in Queensland for new puppies or kittens or whenever a pet is sold or ownership transferred.
We recommend Pet Insurance. A small monthly charge will enable you to give your pet the best treatment with less financial impact. Some insurance companies also offer a cover that will pay for part of your routine petcare. Some policies offer a percentage (eg. 80%) of total bill while others have an excess and pay the total bill above this. An internet search allows easy comparison.
Desexing your cat
Without a doubt a desexed pet is a better pet! Desexing prevents unwanted kittens and prevents undesirable behaviours such as spraying and fighting.
We recommend desexing by six months of age.
Cat house training
Cats are naturally clean animals. Kittens learn quickly to use kitty litter. Begin training your kitten as soon as you get it home. Place the kitten in the litter tray after feeding, playing, early morning and late at night. Keep the litter clean and separate from the food and water.