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 Cats: Health and Welfare

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PostSubject: Cats: Health and Welfare   Thu Jan 28, 2010 10:16 pm

Make sure your cat is protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease

Facts

* Cats feel pain and have similar pain thresholds to people.

* Individual cats show that they are in pain or suffering in different ways.

* A change in the way a cat normally behaves, or in its daily activity pattern, can be an early sign it is ill or in pain. Read more about cats' behaviour.

* Cats are vulnerable to a range of serious infectious diseases and other illnesses.

* Road traffic accidents are the most common cause of injury and early death of cats.

* Cats that are insecure or stressed may become unwell as a result.

* Un-neutered female cats can produce up to 18 kittens a year and are more likely to suffer uterus infections and cancers later in life.

* Un-neutered male cats are more likely to fight and to be lost or run over whilst roaming.

* Fighting increases the risk of injury and can spread diseases.

* Some breeds of cat have been selected for exaggerated physical features which can cause them to suffer and reduce their quality of life.

* Certain breeds are particularly prone to inherited disorders and diseases.

* A cat which can be easily identified (e.g. via a microchip) is more likely to be reunited with its owner and to receive prompt veterinary care if injured.

Things you should do

* Check your cat for signs of injury or illness every day, and make sure this is done by someone else if you are away.

* Consult a vet promptly if you suspect that your cat is in pain, ill or injured.

* Ask your vet for advice about things you can do to protect your cat’s health, such as vaccination, treatments to control parasites (e.g. fleas and worms) and neutering.

* Get your cat neutered, unless it is intended for breeding and provisions have been made to care for both parents and offspring. Before allowing cats to breed, seek the advice of a vet to ensure they are suitable for breeding in terms of their health and personalities.

* Before deciding to buy a cat, make sure you find out what health and behaviour problems it has, or may be prone to, for instance as a result of its breed, how it has been bred and how it has been cared for. Always check with a vet if you are unsure about anything.

* Try to minimise stress in your cat’s daily life, by so doing you will decrease its risk of certain illnesses.

* Take your cat for a routine health check at your vets at least once each year.

* Only use medicines that have been prescribed for your individual cat. Human and dog medicines can be very dangerous to cats.

* Ensure your cat’s coat is kept in good condition by grooming it regularly. If you are unsure how to groom it properly seek advice from a pet care specialist. If your cat changes its grooming habits, you should seek advice from a vet as your cat may be ill.

* Make sure your cat can be identified, ideally via a microchip (ask your vet for advice), so it can be treated quickly if injured or returned to you if lost.

* Consider taking out pet insurance to ensure your cat is covered if it needs veterinary treatment.


Antifreeze poisoning

With winter approaching, the use of Antifreeze is on the increase. However, most people are unaware of the hidden dangers to pets.

Unfortunately many animals find the taste of antifreeze very attractive, and ingesting even the smallest amount can lead to kidney failure and death, especially in cats.

Keep pets safe

Accidental poisonings due to spills and leaks from containers happen every year and unfortunately result in the death of pets. However if you take care when using antifreeze, the majority of accidental deaths can be avoided.


* Always keep antifreeze in clearly labelled, robust, sealed containers, away from pets and their environment.

* Clean up any spills immediately, no matter how small, and make sure pets cannot access the area until it is clean and safe.

* Always dispose of antifreeze safely and responsibly. Contact your local authority for advice.

If you suspect antifreeze poisoning

There are times however, no matter how careful you are, when accidents can still happen. If you suspect your pet has come into contact with antifreeze or if they show any of the following signs get them to a vet immediately:

* Vomiting

* Seeming depressed or sleepy

* Appearing drunk and uncoordinated

* Seizures (fits)

* Difficulty breathing

* Increased thirst

* Increased urination


Signs of antifreeze poisoning can start to show as soon as 30 minutes after ingestion, though it can be two or three days before signs of kidney failure are seen.

The sooner your pet receives veterinary treatment, the better their chances of survival.

If left untreated, antifreeze poisoning can cause animals pain, suffering and distress, and will lead to the death of your pet.


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PostSubject: Re: Cats: Health and Welfare   Thu Jan 28, 2010 10:20 pm

Diet

Make sure your cat has a healthy diet

Facts

* Without water to drink, a cat may become seriously ill within hours.

* Cats need a well-balanced, meat-based diet to stay fit and healthy - cats cannot be vegetarians.

* Cats have very specific dietary needs which typical human food does not meet, and some human foods are poisonous to cats, e.g. onions.

* An individual cat’s dietary needs depend upon its age, lifestyle and its state of health.

* Cats naturally eat several small meals per day.

* How much a cat needs to eat depends on its diet, its bodyweight and how active it is.

* If a cat eats more food than it needs, it will become overweight and may suffer.

* Many cats will not eat if their food is placed too close to their toilet site.


Things you should do

* Provide your cat with constant access to clean drinking water; cow’s milk is not a substitute.

* Make sure your cat eats a balanced diet suitable for its age, health status and lifestyle.

* Feed your cat every day, preferably splitting the daily ration into several small meals throughout the day (unless advised otherwise by your vet).

* Read and follow the feeding instructions relating to any cat foods that you buy.

* Adjust how much you feed your cat to make sure it does not become underweight or overweight.

* If your cat’s eating and drinking habits change, talk to your vet, as your cat could be ill.

* Position your cat’s food and water well away from its litter tray (if you provide one).


Environment

Make sure your cat has a suitable place to live

Facts

* A cat must be able to avoid things that scare it. If unable to hide, your cat may suffer.

* A cat needs regular easy access to an appropriate place to go to the toilet.

* Living in a cold or wet place, without shelter, can cause a cat to suffer and become ill.

* Cats are athletic animals. They need the opportunity to run, jump and climb and often feel safest when high up.

* Cats are territorial animals and become very attached to places. They are naturally frightened of unfamiliar places and smells; they prefer to stay in their familiar home.

* Cats are intelligent. If a cat is bored, and doesn’t have enough to do, it may suffer.

* Cats are inquisitive. If there are hazards within their environment they may easily injure themselves.

Things you should do

# Provide your cat with a comfortable, dry, draught-free, clean and quiet place where it can rest undisturbed.

# Give your cat regular access to a suitable place where it can go to the toilet, outside or in a litter tray, which is separate to where it eats and sleeps.

# Make sure your cat has constant access to safe hiding places where it can escape if it feels afraid.

# If more than one cat shares a living space, provide sufficient extra resources (e.g. toys, beds and hiding places) and give them enough space that they can get away from one another if they choose.

# If your cat doesn't go outside, make sure it has plenty of activities it can do and enough space to exercise, climb and play indoors. Read more about keeping cats indoors.

# Make sure your cat can reach a safe high place where it can climb and rest, e.g. shelves, cupboard top.

# Ensure the size and temperature of any place you leave your cat (including your vehicle) is appropriate.

# If you have to take your cat to a new place, use a secure cat carrier and introduce your cat to it gradually. Putting familiar smelling items in the carrier and the new environment can help the cat feel at ease.

# If you are going away, try to find someone to care for your cat and meet all its

welfare needs within its familiar home, or if boarding your cat, try to ease the move by taking familiar items along too, e.g. your cat’s bed and toys.

# If you move house, your cat may try to get back to its previous home; keep it indoors for at least one to two weeks after you move, and make sure that it seems settled before letting it outside.

# Make sure that where your cat lives is safe, secure and free from hazards.


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