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“Cats are not small dogs.”  Every veterinary student learned that caveat during school.

In other words, cats have nutritional needs that are unique to their species.  They show behavior peculiar to themselves.  They process medications differently than other carnivores.  They manifest pain differently than most other mammals.

Sadly, cats are also among the most underserved pets in America.  Up to one quarter to one third of all owned cats receive no preventive care.  They only go to the vet if the owner notices that the cat is sick.  To make matters worse, cats excel at hiding disease.  So even the cats that are sick often do not receive the care they need.

Finally, we all know that most cats detest going to the vet.  Many cat owners report that they feel stressed just THINKING about taking their cat to the veterinarians.  So… they just don’t go.

To help your cat stay healthy and happy, you should both visit your veterinarian at least once every year. Fees may vary depending upon the veterinary clinic, the area, and the size of the pet. Policies for frequency of treatments may also vary according to each clinic.  It is a good idea to find a clinic you like and stick with it. Just as your medical doctor gets to know you, your vet will get to know your pet.

Listed below are the recommended medical services which you can expect at your cat’s recommended annual physical exam.

  • Rabies vaccination and license (4 months and older)
  • Deworming (as needed)
  • Inoculations and/or tests for the following diseases (6-8 weeks and older, as your vet recommends). This list is accompanied by a brief description of the diseases for which the vaccinations are recommended.

Feline Distemper (Panleukopenia), Chlamydia, Calici, Rhinotracheitis, Feline Leukemia test & vaccination. These vaccinations are available in various combinations and there is one that includes them all, FVRCP-CL. Your vet may use this or another combination.

Chlamydia, Calici, and Rhinotracheitis are the three most common upper respiratory diseases in cats. Symptoms are similar to the common cold or flu, causing sneezing, coughing, runny nose and eyes, fatigue and general misery, but these diseases are much more serious.

Panleukopenia (feline distemper) is not the same kind of disease as canine distemper and can not be transmitted between cats and dogs. This disease causes diarrhea, vomiting, depression and loss of appetite. Feline distemper is very common, highly contagious and is almost always FATAL. The virus itself can live for a long time in many environments and the chances are high that your cat may, at some time, be exposed to this dangerous disease.

Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) both weaken the immune system of a cat. Both can be detected by a test, neither can be cured. Your cat can be protected from FeLV by receiving a vaccination, but responsible pet ownership is your cat’s only defense against FIV as there is still no vaccination.

August 5, 2013

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