Archive for the ‘Cats’ Category

How do I go about getting a pet passport?

Travelling with your pet can be a great experience and means that you can enjoy your holiday with your pet. A pet passport can be obtained for cats, dogs and ferrets – and allows travel between certain countries. You will need to check whether you are travelling to an EU, listed non-EU, or unlisted non EU country as the regulations will differ. If travelling to an unlisted non-EU country the requirements are a little more complicated and will take more time so you will need to plan accordingly.

Also, remember that your pet passport is to allow you to re-enter the UK. Other countries – in particular unlisted non-EU countries – will have their own entry requirements, that you may have to comply with. This is, by example, really important for entry into Australia or New Zealand, who have very strict disease control policies in place.

In order to obtain a pet passport you will need to book an appointment with one of our vets. Check that the vet that you will be seeing has OV (Official Veterinarian) status to legally provide a pet passport and will be available on the day of your appointment. Most of our vets do have this qualification (which they have to renew periodically), but do make sure that our receptionists are aware that you will need certain documents that only they can sign.

Your pet will receive a full health check to ensure that they have no health concerns and are fit to travel. They must be over the age of 15 weeks at the time of travelling; this is to help prevent illegal movement of puppies and kittens.

Hopefully your pet is already microchipped, if not they will need to have one placed in the scruff of their neck for identification purposes. This number will be recorded in their pet passport, along with a written description of them.

Your pet will then need to have a vaccination against Rabies. If the vaccination is given in the UK, it usually lasts 3 years before they require a booster. However, the vaccine takes a few weeks to “take” and become fully effective. As a result, your pet cannot return to the UK until 21 days have passed after having the rabies vaccination, when travelling from EU and listed countries. This means it is sensible to get everything done at least a month or more in advance of your planned trip.

You also need to consider that your pet will be required to travel via an approved transport route and with an approved company. Additionally, you will have to travel with them – if this is not possible, you will need additional paperwork to allow another person to accompany them.

Before returning to the UK, any dogs in your party will need to have a worming tablet administered by vet in the country you are travelling back from, given 1-5 days before re-entry to the UK. This is to prevent a type of tapeworm (Echinococcus multilocularis) that can infect humans from being brought into this country by infected dogs, and it will need to be noted in their pet passport.

We strongly advise that you research the potential parasite and disease threats in the country you are travelling to, to ensure your pets are protected. For most countries, tick cover would be strongly recommended as they carry a number of significant diseases; in southern Europe, dogs should also have sandfly protection to reduce the risk of heartworm and Leishmaniasis.

Failure to meet regulations could result in your pet being quarantined on returning to the UK – which could potentially be months, so do check the gov.uk website for the most up to date information.

Need more advice? Give us a ring and we’ll be able to point you in the right direction!

My cat is missing, what should I do?

Cats are creatures who enjoy being outdoors. They are frequently found hidden away or underneath objects – bearing this in mind, it is not surprising that so many cats go missing! Do not panic, here are the best ways to cope and maximise your chances of getting your cat back home safely.

Firstly, make sure that cat is actually missing and isn’t hiding or sleeping somewhere unusual in your property. Place your cat’s favourite treats in the house and monitor the water and feed levels – if they are decreasing and there are no other animals in the house, the chances are, your cat is not lost! Your cat may just be making appearances at different times in the day. If you decide your cat is missing, it is best to react quickly. The longer they are gone, the further they can travel and there’s more potential for dangerous situations to present themselves.

When looking for your cat, ensure you say their name in a soothing yet loud, clear voice. Only call when you are in a place you will return to. You do not want the cat to follow your voice when you are walking around and reach your calling point when you have already left. It may therefore be best to only call when you are very close to, or heading back towards, home.

The best ways to find your cat is to alert other people, 15 pairs of eyes are always going to be better than one pair! Ask your neighbours and people in your village/local area to have a look, especially in any open outdoor spaces, for example garages, greenhouses and garden sheds. You can make people aware of your missing cat by posting on social media and best of all, by making posters. Try to find local groups on Facebook, talk to us, and try to contact your village hall/church/community centre to see if they can do an announcement or put up a poster in their facilities. You could ask for it to be posted in the local newspaper too. You should check social media for groups or pages which are specific to your area or to found pets – people will often advertise if they think they have found a lost cat!

Stick up posters in your local area, which clearly display your cat’s image to help people know what to look for. You should note any specific features the cat has and the their temperament. Additionally, you must provide a contact number. Ideally, these posters should be put in a waterproof case (a plastic wallet or lamination) to protect it from the weather. This will maximise the amount of time they are legible and therefore useful.

Ensure your house is cat friendly so that if the cat tries to return on their own, they can gain access – a cat flap is ideal. You should leave your cat’s favourite toy or favourite treats near your door, your cat may be returning to another house where they’re receiving more fuss and attention! You could leave blankets in a box or their bed outside the door which may invite the cat in, however if you do, be sure to check the box regularly as you may trap animals which will need releasing. Blankets will need replacing regularly too especially in harsh weather conditions.

You should have your cat microchipped. If they are chipped – contact the microchip company and alert them that your cat is missing. This means that anyone who finds that cat can have it scanned and your cat will be returned to you as they find your contact details. Microchips are better than collars as collars can fall off especially if the cat has been climbing through bushes or any other obstacle course they can find… Although we would recommend using both if possible! Ensure your contact details are up to date and if you rescue or rehome a cat, ensure the details are changed to your own.

Notices and posters can also be put up in any local vets or rescue centres. Ensure the local vets and rescue centres are aware of your missing cat because they can contact you if someone informs them or brings them in or if the public provide them with any information regarding the situation.

Last of all, stay positive! Do not lose hope. Animals like exploring and your cat may just be on a little adventure!

Time to play – the best cat toys!

Cats are just as interested in toys and play as much as dogs – even though your feline friend may not show it! Whereas you probably won’t see a cat tearing across a field to fetch a toy back to you, cats play and the toys they use are just as important. In this blog we look at the best types, and actually why cats should be encouraged to play. (more…)

What is FLUTD?

FLUTD, or Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disorder, is the commonest cause of cystitis (bladder inflammation) in cats. Unlike in dogs, bacterial infections are uncommon in cats (and almost unknown in cats under eight years old). In most cases, cystitis in cats is a result of an abnormal response by the cat’s body to some external problem. 

What is the cause?

FLUTD is caused primarily by stress. Cats who become stressed start to suffer from progressive damage to their bladder lining, which eventually leads to cystitis.

Cats have evolved to be small predators, in the middle of the food chain; as a result they are very sensitive to stressful situations. So, any change in the environment is inherently stressful – whether that is a change in the furniture, or a new carpet, or an extension, it doesn’t matter. The presence of other large animals (who might conceivably be a threat) is also stressful. While cats can, and do, get used to and become friends with individual humans (or even dogs), the presence of strange humans or canines is always stressful.

In addition, these ancient wild cats were solitary hunters, who never came together except to breed. Now, modern cats are more tolerant than their ancestors, but they are still sensitive to the effects of crowding. So, the presence of strange cats, or even stress from too many cats sharing limited resources, can also be a problem.

Which cats are at risk?

Any cat who is stressed! However, there are other risk factors – such as reduced drinking and obesity. In addition, tomcats (especially neutered toms) are at increased risk of a urinary obstruction (blocked bladder).

So, what are the symptoms?

Most commonly, cats seem uncomfortable while using the litter tray, and may pass blood-stained urine. Usually, they will pass small amounts of urine, more frequently than usual. They also may start urinating in places other than their litter tray.

Although uncomfortable, and definitely requiring treatment, in most cases FLUTD is not life-threatening. However, occasionally the urethra (the tube leading from the bladder to the outside world) becomes blocked with debris and blood. This is most common in tomcats (who have a smaller urethra), and if untreated is fatal within a couple of days.

How can it be treated?

In most cases, pain relief and relieving the underlying stress are sufficient. There are two phases to stress relief in cats:

  • Remove the cause: if possible, identify and remove the underlying problem. No more stressor, no more stress, no more FLUTD – simple! As the most common stressor is overcrowding (from the cat’s perspective!), making sure there are enough food and water bowls and litter trays for every cat, plus one spare, is a good start.
  • Of course, you can’t always do that (knocking down a new kitchen because the cat doesn’t like it isn’t usually practical, for example). In that case, you have to help them manage the stress. There are a number of options:
    • Feliway – this is a pheromone-based product which reassures cats that they are safe. It’s very effective against all types of stress!
    • Prescription medications that relieve stress may be needed in some cases – our vets will be able to prescribe them, if needed.

In cats who are prone to FLUTD for any reason, glycosaminoglycan supplements may also be useful. These help to reinforce the bladder lining, preventing the stress-induced deterioration.

If the bladder becomes blocked, this is a medical emergency – we will need to anaesthetise them, and pass a catheter to flush out the debris and allow them to urinate. Without treatment, cats with a complete obstruction will die.

If you think your cat may have cystitis, make sure that you get them checked out by one of our vets as soon as possible!

People products that poison cats

Cats are much less likely to suffer from poisoning than dogs because they are usually more careful about what they eat! However, curiosity can indeed kill the cat, and young adventurous felines are definitely at risk in a human world. In this blog, we’re going to highlight the most important poisons for cats, so you can make sure they’re kept well away from curious creatures! 

Antifreeze

Many types of antifreeze contain a chemical called ethylene glycol. This is a very sweet-tasting substance (so sweet that even cats can detect it!). As a result, cats tend to drink it up, given the chance. Once in the body, it acts a bit like alcohol, causing confusion and wobbliness. This is potentially dangerous for the cat, but if untreated, it gets worse, as a day or so later, their kidneys suddenly shut down – usually with fatal consequences. If treated early, intensive care and the use of the antidote can save them, but if they have gone into kidney failure before treatment starts, the prognosis is very poor.

Chocolate

We tend to think of dogs getting chocolate poisoning, not cats – but cats are susceptible as well. The active ingredient is a chemical called theobromine, which over-excites the heart and nervous system. This chemical is closely related to caffeine, which has similar effects. Poisoned cats may suffer vomiting and diarrhoea, abnormal heartbeats, seizures or even collapse and death; however, fortunately it is rare for cats to eat enough to become seriously ill. Different types of chocolate contain different amounts of theobromine – white chocolate has the least, then milk, then dark, and cocoa powder the most. If your cat does gobble up some chocolate, give us a ring for advice!

Dog flea treatments

One common ingredient in some (although not all) dog and rabbit flea spot-ons is permethrin. This is safe in dogs, but it’s lethally toxic to cats. It damages the nervous system causing hypersalivation, tremors, high temperature then severe seizures, coma and usually death. Permethrin can even poison cats that have just rubbed up against a treated dog! If you think your cat may have been dosed with a permethrin-containing product, call us immediately. To prevent problems, NEVER use dog or rabbit products on a cat unless the label specifically states that it is safe to do so. No flea treatment offered by Goddard Veterinary Group contains permethrin.

Lilies

All parts of the lily plant are poisonous to cats, even the pollen. The toxin causes catastrophic and usually irreversible kidney failure. Cats become poisoned after grooming themselves, having touched a lily plant, or having got pollen on their coat. In some cases, poisonings have even occurred after cats drink water that lilies had been in. If you have cats – no lilies in the house! If you’re concerned, call us right away.

Medicines

Most human medicines are toxic to cats – partly for dose reasons (humans being much bigger need higher doses!), but also because cats do not break down medications as efficiently as humans do. The most dangerous is paracetamol, which is a lethal poison for cats – never, ever give paracetamol medications to a cat. It’s a really common thing that we see, though, causing depression, vomiting, damage to red blood cells (so the gums go blue or even brown), swollen head and paws, then liver failure and death. There is an antidote, but it needs to be given really quickly!

Pesticides

Although insecticides (like wasp or ant killers) and slug pellets are highly toxic to cats, poisoning is rare. However, we often see cats that have been poisoned with rat- or mouse-poisons – often because they’ve eaten a poisoned animal. This “secondary poisoning” is most likely with the “professional-strength” rat baits, and usually results in uncontrolled bleeding. The symptoms are depression, lethargy, bruising, maybe a rash, and bleeding from the nose, mouth and bowels; sometimes, the bleeding is entirely internal. There is an antidote that is very effective, but very sick cats tend to run away and hide, so if your cat starts showing early signs and there’s rat-bait down, get them to us ASAP. Some of these poisons can stay active in the body for many weeks, so affected cats may need regular dosing with the antidote for a prolonged time after poisoning.

Washing liquids and detergents

Possibly the most overlooked item on this list – but just as deadly as the others. Concentrated washing liquids (e.g. the gel or liquid sachets for use in a washing machine) are lethal to cats. They tend to play with them, but when their claws burst the envelope, the liquid causes deep burns to their skin. This is painful and very nasty, but not usually fatal – unfortunately, cats then try to lick it off. Once in the mouth, the detergents burn the mouth, gullet and windpipe, resulting in fluid loss, shock, and often suffocation as the airways swell. If exposed, wash them as soon as possible and then call us – they’ll probably need intensive care, and even then the prognosis is guarded.

If you think your cat may have been poisoned, call us IMMEDIATELY. We also need to know, if possible, what it is they’ve been exposed to. Remember, any delay in treatment may prove fatal.