A Feline Friendly Christmas

Christmas is a busy period in our practice and the team work especially hard to ensure that all of the animals and their owners have a safe and merry holiday.

To help, we’ve made a list of things to consider when decorating and celebrating, as well as some helpful tips to ensure a smooth, stress-free month.

cat peers up through the branched of festive tree

The Tree

Cats have a tendency to want to explore and climb Christmas trees – especially ones bursting with shiny, sparkly decorations. A toppling tree is not an unusual occurrence in a home with a cat!

To prevent this, consider using a quality, heavy tree base which is structurally unlikely to collapse. It’s also worth considering keeping your cat out of the room with the tree when you are not home.

Also, it’s worth bearing in mind that pine needles are very sharp and can cause severe damage if ingested. The natural oil coating of the needles may cause mild irritation to a cats mouth and skin.

Tip: Don’t put wrapped catnip toys beneath the tree or hang chocolate decorations from the tree branches. Cat’s often know and this can be a direct invitation for inquisitive felines.

Cat playing with decorations which hang from a Christmas tree

The Decorations

Cat’s, particularly young cats, really love to play. It’s a good idea to make sure that all of the decorations in your home are securely hung, in locations where cats cannot reach or, where the decoration will not break if it falls.

Tinsel is particularly attractive to cats due to its glitter, crinkle, and the way it resembles many cat toys. Please be wary of allowing them to play with tinsel, as it can cause serious internal issues if ingested.

We would suggest that you avoid placing real poinsettias, mistletoe or holly plants around the home. These, like lilies, are very poisonous to cats.

Tip: For cats with a tendency to chew, be sure to cover all wiring with plastic or cardboard coverings. Also, it’s worth considering LED battery powered lights as an alternative.

The Food

There is an abundance of rich food around during the holidays and while it’s super tempting to want to share it with your cat, we recommend that you avoid doing so.
Garlic, onions, chocolate, raisins, grapes and alcohol are all very poisonous to your cat. We particularly suggest that you avoid feeding your cat stuffing, gravy or fatty meat trimmings. Instead, there are lots of pet-friendly festive treats on the market such as Lily’s Kitchen.

Relaxed cat sleeping beneath a Christmas tree

Reducing Stress

With a lot happening in such a short period of time, the festive period can often be very stressful for all pets.

Consider putting decorations up over the course of a few days if you have a nervous cat to introduce changes to the home slowly, so that your cat may adjust.

We would recommend that you leave at least one room of the house untouched and unchanged so that your cat has somewhere familiar to hide. This is especially important if you have a lot of visitors or parties during the holidays.

Tip: If your pet is especially anxious, especially with fireworks, consider plugging in a Feliway diffuser in your home, or contact the practice for additional advice to help keep your pet calm and happy.

Final Considerations

  • If your pet is on medication, stock up before the holidays so you don’t get caught out. You can call the practice on 0141 339 1228, or order online here.

  • If you are going away for Christmas, make sure to organise a sitter or cattery in advance as they can be busy over the holiday period.

Parasites in Cats

Worms, Fleas and Ticks are incredibly common parasites which infest many cats without their owners even knowing. Most cats will come into contact with a parasite at some point in their life, regardless of whether or not they live indoors or outdoors.

The sooner you begin parasite prevention the better. Parasites are fairly difficult to treat once your cat is infested and there is a high risk that they will spread to other pets, humans and your home.

bengal cat standing outside in grass

Worming

Most breeders will have wormed your kitten before you take it home and will advise you on how to proceed with worming as they grow.

The most common worms that cats come into contact with are roundworm, tapeworm and lungworm. Between the ages of 12 weeks and 6 months, we strongly recommend that you worm your kitten on a monthly basis. From 6 months onward, we would advise you to you worm your cat every 3 months for the years following.

Our vets and nurses can advise on and supply the most suitable type of wormer for your cat. You can begin worming treatment by simply phoning up the practice to make an appointment with one of our nurses.

Fleas and Ticks

Similar to worms, fleas and ticks also pose a very common risk to our cats.

As soon as your kitten is allowed outdoors, they are immediately at risk of infestation by flea larvae (eggs) and ticks. Therefore, we recommend that you start flea and tick parasite prevention from the age of 12 weeks and continue this for the rest of your cat’s life.

Flea and tick prevention medicines come in a variety of forms, including tablets, spot-on treatments and injections. This allows us to tailor your cat’s flea and tick treatment to their individual needs.

Some owners stop flea prevention treatments during the winter months, but we would advise against this as with milder winters, fleas are now seen on cats and in homes year-round.

Due to the wide range of preventative medications, we recommend that you speak to one of our veterinary staff to select the most appropriate products for your pet.

ginger cat leans over the side of fence, looking down at the camera

Parasite Prevention is included in our Pet Health Club! Click here to find out how you can save money!

Cat Vaccinations

Why should I vaccinate my cat?

Vaccinating your cat’s is one of the most important ways in which you can keep them healthy and protected against some common infectious diseases.

Regular vaccinations protect your cat from:

  • Feline Infectious Enteritis
  • Feline Herpes Virus
  • Feline Herpes Virus & Feline Calicivirus (‘cat flu’)
  • Feline Leukemia Virus

It is important to vaccinate both indoor and outdoor cats as viruses can be transmitted from other contaminated pets or wild animals, clothing and footwear fibres, and from contaminated water sources.

Cat Vaccinations : tiny kitten walks outdoors through long grass

How often should I vaccinate my cat?

Kittens require two initial vaccinations. The first from the age of 9 weeks, followed by a second vaccinated 3 -4 weeks later.

Following this ‘primary course’, an annual booster is required each year after to ensure your cat stays protected.

Full ‘head-to-toe’ veterinary health checks are also provided during each vaccination as standard. This is to make sure that your pet is healthy, to spot any underlying issues and to address and other concerns that you may have.

kitten examines vet stethoscope on a table in a veterinary consultation room. cat vaccinations

Annual vaccinations are included in the Pet Health Club. Click here to find out how you can save money!

Cat Neutering

Cat neutering is a routine surgical procedure regularly performed at the practice.

As well as preventing unwanted pregnancies, neutering also helps prevent many illnesses and can reduce territorial behaviours. Unless you are intending to breed your cat, we strongly recommend that you have them neutered from a young age.

Female cats reach puberty at around 7 months old, but they can start to attract attention from tomcats as young as 4 months old. We normally advise that female kittens are neutered from 6 months to prevent unwanted litters. However, neutering can be performed at any stage in your cat’s life, even if she is pregnant.

There is no scientific evidence to suggest that it is beneficial for a cat to carry a litter before they are spayed.

What does spaying involve?

Neutering is a surgical procedure which involves the complete removal of your cat’s ovaries and uterus. We request that all female cats visit the practice for a free pre-operation check over with the vet beforehand to ensure that they are healthy and fit to go ahead with the operation. Following this check, we will book your cat to return for the operation.

We perform all operations first thing in the morning. This is to make certain that your pet is recovering and well enough to return home with you that same evening.

On arrival, your cat will be premeditated with sedatives and painkillers. A general anaesthetic is administered for the duration of the operation.

The Veterinary Surgeon will make a  small incision on either the cats’ side (the flank) or the centre of their abdomen. After the removal of the ovaries and uterus, stitches will be used to seal the incision and promote healing.

Your cat should be well enough to return home in the evening after the operation. We recommend that she is kept in a calm and comfortable environment and restricted to house rest for at least 10 days. The Veterinarian who performs the surgery will advise on post-operative care and stitch removal following surgery.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of spaying my cat?

No pet owner likes the idea of putting their loved ones through major surgery however, we do recommend that all owners of female cats consider neutering because the benefits to your cat far outweigh the risks involved.

Advantages

  • No possibility of pregnancy.
  • Protection from infections in the uterus as well as prevention of uterine and ovarian cancers.
  • Cat neutering has been found to reduce the risk of your cat developing breast cancer later in life.
  • Likelihood of developing unwanted ‘calling’ behaviours diminished

Disadvantages

  • Neutering your cat involves major surgery which always comes with a level of risk, particularly with anaesthetic and post-surgical infection.
  • Neutering your cat can cause weight gain, as she tends to burn calories less efficiently and store more energy as fat. However, feeding your cat a healthy balanced diet and allowing her to get plenty of exercise will counteract this. Our veterinary team will be able to advise you if you have concerns about your cat’s weight.
  • Some breeds of cats, such as Siamese, can have the hair around the incision site grow back noticeably darker than before, but this usually grows out with moulting as the hair is replaced.

Male cats reach puberty between the ages of 8 and 9 months at which point they can develop certain undesirable behaviours, such as spraying and increased aggression. For this reason, we recommend that all male cats not intended for breeding be castrated.

What does cat castration involve?

Castration is a surgical procedure that involves the complete removal of your cat’s testes. It is a routine day operation that is over very quickly and is one of the least invasive surgeries performed at the practice.

We perform all operations first thing in the morning. This is to make certain that your pet is recovering and well enough to return home with you that same evening.

When they arrive, your cat will be premeditated with sedatives and painkillers. A general anaesthetic is administered for the duration of the operation.

The Veterinary Surgeon will incise the cats’ scrotum to remove the testes. Once complete, there is no need for stitches as the wound will heal naturally.

Your cat should be well enough to return home that same evening. We recommend that he is kept calm and comfortable at home and kept indoors for at least 2 days. The Veterinarian who performs the surgery will advise on post-operative care and stitch removal following surgery.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of castrating my cat?

As with female cats we recommend that all owners of male cats consider castration because the benefits far outweigh the risks involved. If you have concerns you should give us a phone to discuss further with a member of the team.

Advantages of Cat Castration

  • Castrating your male cat from a young age should completely prevent territorial and dominant behaviours from developing, such as spraying urine indoors.
  • Less likely to be involved in territorial fights with other male cats in your area.
  • Less likely to be involved in road traffic accidents while roaming at night in search of female cats.
  • The complete removal of your cat’s testes will mean that they produce less testosterone. This can help with aggression and dominance behaviours at home, while not affecting their personality or spirit.

Disadvantages of Cat Castration

  • Neutering your cat involves surgery which always carries a level of risk, particularly with anaesthetic and post-surgical infection.
  • Neutering your cat can cause weight gain. However, feeding your cat a healthy balanced diet and allowing him to get plenty of exercise will counteract this. Our veterinary team will be able to advise you if you have concerns about your cat’s weight.

 

If you have any further questions or queries, or would like to book your cat in, please give the team a phone on 0141 339 1228.

You can also find more information from other trusted sites:

Cat Dental Health

Dental issues are very common in cats and so it’s important to begin dental care with your pet from a young age, in order to prevent these complications later in life.

Adult cats have 30 permanent teeth and kittens have 26 deciduous teeth. Kittens usually lose their deciduous teeth between 3-6 months.

Common Dental Problems

  • Plaque – like humans, our pets can suffer from a buildup of plaque on their teeth. Plaque is a soft sticky deposit that contains millions of bacteria and accumulates on teeth. Daily brushing can easily remove plaque, but if it combines with minerals in saliva and food, it can form into a hard brownish rock-type material, commonly known as tartar.
  • Tartar – is very common and can only be removed through scaling and polishing the teeth. In pets, this procedure requires a full general anaesthetic, so we strongly encourage owners to develop a good dental health regime from a young age, to avoid potential dental surgery later in life.
  • Gingivitis and other forms of Gum Disease – are particularly common in cats. This is a bacterial infection caused by the accumulation of plaque and tartar. The gums become inflamed and sore, leading to the destruction of tissue and the formation of pus in the cavities between the gums and teeth. The infection usually starts with one tooth and, if left untreated, quickly spreads around the mouth.
  • Receding gums – if inflamed gums go unnoticed and are not treated, this can quickly snowball to bleeding, sore gums which recede away from the roots of the teeth. Should this occur, the teeth themselves become exposed to infection, potential loss and abscesses.

It is essential to keep an eye on your pet’s teeth to ensure that they remain clean and healthy, and to reduce the risk of costly surgery as your pets grow older.

Recognising Dental Health Problems

Cats can often be reluctant to let us know when there is something wrong – particularly with dental issues. However, there are symptoms that are common to both cats and dogs that owners should be aware of. These include:

  • Bad breath
  • Excessive drooling
  • Pawing the mouth
  • Red, bleeding gums
  • Discomfort when eating
  • Reduced food intake
  • Weight loss
  • Less grooming or poor coat quality

If your pet is showing any of these symptoms and you are worried about their dental health, then please contact us straight away.

Remember, we offer free nurse dental checks at the practice so it will cost you nothing to put your mind at ease.

Preventing Dental Health Problems

The following measures are effective, relatively inexpensive and will be beneficial to both you and your pet. These include:

1 – Try to develop a daily brushing habit. Some animals are initially adverse to this, so it’s best to begin as soon as possible when your pets are young enough to grow used to the brushing. We recommend that you introduce brushing gradually to your pet’s routine to increase the chance of success.

2 – Utilise some of the many pet dental products on the market, such as flavoured toothpaste and special finger brushes. Our Veterinary Nurses will be happy to advise on which dental health products would be most suitable for your pet and their needs. Alternatively, take a look at our online shop.

3 – Choose a high-quality dry food diet for your pet.

4 – Avoid giving your pets sugary treats and human foods, especially the ones that are bad for human teeth too!

If you are concerned about your pet’s dental health, please contact the surgery and book them in for a free dental health check. For any other dental queries, please contact a member of our vet nursing team.

 

First Aid

It’s always good to be prepared for an emergency. Here you can find a few pointers to help you care for your pet in an emergency situation until veterinary care is obtained.

Remember, if you are unable to come straight into the practice with your pet, you can call us for immediate advice over the phone. 

The best thing to do is seek immediate veterinary advice, but in the meantime it is vital to prevent blood loss.

  • Gently clean the wound with lukewarm water. If it is only a slight graze, clean regularly and monitor.
  • If the would is bleeding, place a clean cloth, cotton wool or bandage over the wound and apply pressure either with your hands or by tying a bandage around the area. Never use an elastic band or constricting material as this may cut of the blood supply.
  • It is important that you stop your pet from licking any wound as this can cause infection and further damage to the injury.
  • If the wound is getting worse or your pet becomes unwell, please call us immediately. Remember, phone advice is free so do not hesitate to call us if you have any questions or concerns.

Bees and wasps stings are incredibly common during the summer months  in Glasgow. If they are stung, our pets are often very good at letting us know by crying and drawing attention to the area.

If you suspect your pet has been stung, the first thing to do is check to see if the sting is still present and remove it if possible. If the sting is present it is likely to be a bee sting. When the sting is not present, this is a good indication of a wasp sting.

For bee stings – Mix small amount of water with some bicarbonate soda to make a paste, and apply to affected area.

For wasp stings – Make a solution of half vinegar and half water and use it to bathe the area. Bathing the sting may help ease discomfort.

Some animals have potentially fatal shock reactions to bee and wasp stings. If you feel that your animal is having a severe reaction to a sting then please call the practice immediately for advice.

It is also important to seek immediate veterinary advice if you suspect that your pet has been stung around the head, neck or mouth as this can make shock reactions more likely.

Our pets eyes are very delicate and unfortunately eye problems are a regular occurrence. Symptoms of these  commonly include: swelling, redness and discharge.

If you suspect that you pet has developed an eye issue, please seek veterinary advice as soon as possible. Until this can be obtained, it is important to keep the eyes lubricated to prevent drying out. This can be done by bathing with a clean cloth that’s been soaked with cooled boiled water.

If left untreated, eye problems can cause long-term health issues. Therefore, even if the issue appears to be minor, we still recommend giving the practice a call for free over-the-phone advice.

Ear infections are also common in pets and cannot be treated without veterinary attention.

If your pet is excessively rubbing their ears, or appears to have developed a sudden hearing problem, we recommend that you inspect the inner ear on both sides to check for redness, swelling or discharge. 

Should you suspect a problem, it is important that you do not try to bath or pour liquid in the ears. This unfortunately  often makes the situation worse. As with eye health, ear infections can lead to permanent problems if left untreated and we strongly recommend that you contact the practice for further advice.

If your animal develops violent and sudden head shaking, it is likely that they have a foreign object stuck in the ear canal. Please do not attempt any sort of home treatment in these circumstances and seek immediate veterinary advice.

If your pet collapses and starts to twitch uncontrollably, it is likely that they are having a seizure or fit.

Should this occur, it is important that you try to remain as calm as possible. Your pet is very good at sensing your emotions, so if you are feeling stressed, they will be too.

If you witness your pet having a seizure please do not try to comfort, restrain or move them as you run the risk of injury to yourself and your pet. Instead, try to clear away items from around your pet – anything such as tables or chairs, which could potentially cause your pet further harm.

It is important to create a dark, quiet and calm environment by closing the curtains or blinds and turning off the lights, as well as any other surrounding stimuli, such as televisions or radios.

Take a note of the time of the incident, the approximate duration of it and any other observations that you feel might be important, such as twitching and stiffening of the legs.

Report the incident to your vet as soon as possible who will be able to help and advise. 

Signs that your pet is overheating include:

  • Heavy panting or rapid breathing.
  • Excessive thirst.
  • Glazed eyes.
  • Bright or dark red tongue and gums.
  • Staggering and stumbling.
  • Increased pulse and heartbeat.
  • Excessive drooling.
  • Weakness and collapse.
  • Vomiting.
  • Seizures.
  • Unconsciousness.

If you suspect that your pet is overheating:

  • Move them immediately to a cool shaded area.
  • Place all four paws in cool water.
  • Soak towels with cold water and place over your pet’s body and head, as well as under their arms and groin area. If using cool packs, please make sure they are covered with a towel.
  • Fill a bowl with cool water and encourage drinking.

Please be aware that heat stroke can develop and become serious very quickly. If you are at all concerned, contact us immediately on 0141 339 1228 or bring your pet straight down to the practice.