How to care for your cat
At our East Molesey veterinary surgery, we’re delighted to treat and care for cats. From cat Vet consultations, to cat vaccination boosters, our fully trained Vets provide a range of services for this household favourite. At our cat clinic we can offer nutritional advice, health checks for cats and kittens, dental services and much more. Read about the types of consultations we can offer your cat.
We have CAT-FRIENDLY facilities at Molesey Vets in East Molesey, with areas where owners can keep their nervous felines away from noisy and inquisitive dogs. Please do ask our staff if you feel you would like to use them.
We have our Healthy Pet Club which is a great way of ensuring your cat receives the best preventative healthcare. You also benefit from great savings on essential annual vaccinations, life-saving parasite prevention and many other benefits and discounts! Learn more about our Healthy Pet Club.
Also, don’t forget to collect your Molesey Card – our free loyalty card which gives you 1% back on everything you spend with us! The Molesey Card lets you collect points that can be redeemed against our services. We even give you 500 points (=£5) to get you started! Remember, it’s completely free to join, so ask at reception for more details when you arrive – learn more.
At Molesey Vets, we have a Core Vaccine for cats that is a 4-in-1 vaccine against 2 types of cat flu virus (Herpes and Calicivirus), a vaccination against the Panleukopenia virus (which causes severe, and often fatal gastroenteritis) and a vaccination against FeLV (see below).
Current recommendations with the modern vaccine we use are:
- The 1st vaccination is given at 8 weeks of age, or older
- The 2nd vaccination is injected 3-4 weeks after the first
- The next vaccination is given after 12 months
- Adults need cat flu boosters annually and enteritis boosters every 3 years.
- Remember, if your cat is pregnant, this vaccine should not be given
OTHER CAT VACCINES
FeLV (Feline Leukaemia Virus):
FeLV is a potentially fatal virus that can cause lymphoma (a type of cancer) and other problems. The FeLV vaccination is part of our standard protocol for all cats.
Chlamydia, now known as Chlamydophila, can cause conjunctivitis and respiratory disease in shelters or catteries, but rarely affects cats kept individually indoors. Should it be given? This vaccine is known to frequently cause reactions in cats such as pain and lethargy. Therefore, we do not recommend giving your cat the Chlamydophila vaccine.
FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis):
The FIP vaccination is shown not to be effective in preventing this disease, so we do not recommend giving it.
FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus):
Although commercially available, it is not shown to be effective, so we also do not recommend this vaccine.
At present, Rabies vaccination for cats is not compulsory in the UK. Currently there is no rabies present in the UK and therefore we generally do not recommend vaccinating your cat against it.
However, it is present in other EU countries. In order to travel with your cat to Europe, they will need to be vaccinated against rabies and microchipped. Learn more about our pet travel services.
There’s nothing more exciting or rewarding than introducing a fluffy new kitten into your home. When you bring your new pet into the surgery for its first check up, our Vet will help ensure it is in good health, and advise you on how to help it lead a happy and healthy life.
Our Veterinary Surgeon will perform a full physical exam during your kitten’s first health check. This involves checking the condition of your kitten’s eyes, nose, ears, mouth, teeth, and skin, whilst listening to their heart and lungs, and feeling the abdomen for irregularities, and examine their joints. Our Veterinary Surgeon can also advise you on all aspects of your kitten’s care including feeding, behaviour, and training. At Molesey Vets, we will also cover preventative care such as vaccinations, neutering and parasite control.
This consultation is especially beneficial for first-time cat owners as it allows them to learn about the behaviour, diet and preventative care of their new kitten. Preventative care includes deworming, flea control, home dental care and information on some of the more common cat diseases. We recommend an annual check up for the continued good health of your cat.
Six-monthly Health Checks
At Molesey Vets, we recommend a six-monthly check up for all our feline patients: six months is quite a long time in the lives of cats. Six years is the equivalent of us only going to the doctors every two to three years! Part of our Healthy Pet Club is a free six-month check-up with one of our exceptional Registered Veterinary Nurses
Cats that are older than 7 years can be classed as senior, before entering their ‘geriatric’ years.
During an older cat’s annual examination, we pay more attention to diseases that develop with old age. These include heart and dental disease, arthritis, Hyperthyroidism (high levels of the thyroid hormone), Hypertension (high blood pressure) and renal/kidney disease.
For older cats, we do recommend annual blood and urine tests. When you come in for the health check, please try to bring a urine sample for us to analyse.
The easiest way for owners to collect a sample of urine from their cat is to use a special type of litter that doesn’t absorb moisture e.g. Catrine Pearl. We have this available for sale, for this purpose. To collect the sample:
- Wash & dry the tray well
- Put down a thin layer of Catrine Pearl
- Make sure no other cats can use that tray (put the cat and tray in a room with the door shut)
For further information and advice on how to collect a urine sample from you cat please watch our “Collecting a urine sample from your cat video”. View Video
At Molesey Vets, we recommend feeding your cat a balanced diet of both dry food and wet food sourced from one of the major reputable companies.
Major companies such as Hills and Royal Canin both supply different diets that have been formulated for each stage of your cat’s life.
We recommend at least one meal of wet food every day to make sure they take in enough water. Ideally you should be feeding your cat 50% dry food and 50% wet food each time. Unfortunately, most tinned cat food does not provide them with a ‘balanced’ diet, so we recommend you vary the flavour and brand to help prevent your cat suffering from any deficiencies.
Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they must eat meat. They cannot survive on a diet of purely vegetables, however, plain meat/fish and rice are NOT complete in nutrition and can lead to serious diseases developing. These range from blindness to kidney failure.
You should not feed your cat a home-made diet unless your cat has a specific medical issue and our Veterinary Surgeon has recommended it.
You should feed young kittens at least 4 meals a day, whilst most adult cats should have 2 meals per day. Some cats like to graze their food i.e. they enjoy eating smaller amounts throughout the day instead of having 2 distinctive meals.
A single cat kept on their own in the house can have ‘free access’ to dry food combined with a single meal of wet food. Be careful as some cats can become obese when given a ‘free access’ schedule.
If your cat has become overweight, make sure that you feed them a restricted amount of food twice a day. One of our Veterinarians or Nurses will be able to recommend the appropriate brand and amount.
You should be giving your cat access to water 24 hours a day. Make sure that the water is changed and the bowl cleaned every day too.
Another way to provide ‘fresh’ water to you feline companion is to have a ‘pet water fountain’. We often recommend this to owners who have older cats, or those who have cats with bladder problems, as it encourages them to drink more.
Your cat’s health and behaviour can benefit from neutering. Most importantly though, neutering helps to prevent unwanted pregnancies and kitten births. Both male and female cats can be neutered from six months old.
Many older entire (not neutered) female cats will develop mammary cancers and uterine infections (pyometra) as they age. Neutering your female cat will reduce her risk of mammary (breast) cancer by up to 90 %, so we recommend that neutering earlier (at six months old) is better, compared to later in life. Female cats also start meowing excessively and screaming when they are in heat, so neutering stops you having sleepless nights!
Prostate diseases are not common in male cats, although we do recommend neutering as this helps to avoid behavioural problems such as territorial urine spraying on your furniture and walls. Adult tom cats that have not been neutered are more driven to find a female, and they will be prone to exploring larger territories where they may get into fights, or even get hit by a car.
We always aim to improve the anaesthetic safety and welfare for all our patients by doing a pre-anaesthetic blood test. We use state-of-the-art anaesthetic drugs and have a full suite of electronic monitoring systems. We provide your cat with painkillers before and after surgery, and give them intravenous fluids to stop them becoming dehydrated. After the surgery, out patients are usually back to their old selves within a day or two.
In 2021, cat microchipping is set to become a legal requirement in the UK, with a hefty fine for non-compliance. Besides this, the main reasons for microchipping your cat include:
- It gives your cat the best chance of being reunited with you should they go missing
- It adheres to terms and conditions of pet insurance
- It allows your cat to travel to the EU with you
We can implant a microchip into a conscious cat, but we would recommend that if they are under anaesthesia during a neutering operation we microchip them at the same time.
De-worming or Intestinal de-wormer:
Milbemax and Drontal Cat are the safest, most effective and most complete de-wormers for cats available on the market.
We would recommend the following de-worming programme for your cat:
- Every 2 weeks from 2 weeks of age until 3 months old
- Monthly from 3 months old to 6 months
- Every 3 months from 6 months onward
Advocate and Program are the safest and most effective flea control products. Advocate kills adult fleas and is applied as a ‘spot-on’ treatment monthly. Program does not kill adult fleas, but prevents the eggs laid by the flea in your house from hatching! Program is an injection that is given every six months. Both strategies are effective, and can be used singularly or in conjunction if there is a heavy flea infestation.
Other products such as flea baths, flea powder and flea collars are ineffective or dangerous, and should never be used.
Indorex, RIP or Staykil are environmental products that need to sprayed in your home should it become infected with fleas and their larvae. They are all very powerful chemicals, and must NEVER be sprayed onto cats or any other pets. They are toxic to fish and other water creatures, so exercise great care when using them. For further advice on how to use these products, ask your Vet during your cat consultation.
Brushing and Bathing:
Only the bravest cat owners will try to bathe their cats! With very few exceptions, cats hate being bathed, and chronic stress can lead to health problems including cystitis. The only times you should attempt to bathe your cat is following faecal or urinal soiling, or if they have become soaked with toxic substances such as motor oil or creosote. If you’re worried about giving your cat a bath, or if a substance is dangerous for them, then please ask us for advice!
Cats are notorious for keeping themselves in pristine condition, and regularly groom themselves. A daily brushing for a long haired cat should be sufficient, although short-haired cats often enjoy being groomed, and it is a great way to bond with your pet.
Should your cat appear dirty or their fur matted, then please bring them in for a consultation. Cats that do not groom themselves may be suffering from a medical condition.
There are many plants that are toxic for pets but lilies are particularly toxic for cats. Please check how safe a new plant is before you bring it home.
Cats metabolise medication differently from dogs and humans, and should not be given any human medications without veterinary advice. Drugs such as panadol and acetaminophen are particularly toxic.
Remember to check around your car when topping up automotive antifreeze, it is also very dangerous to cats.
Dangerous objects for your cats:
Small household objects including string, sewing needles & threads, and tablets are the most dangerous as your cat may swallow them. Should they ingest any string or fabric it can cause gut obstruction, resulting in a lot of damage to their gastrointestinal tract. In addition, objects such as string, fabric and sewing needles are not visible on x-rays so this can make the diagnosis difficult. If you have cats we would advise you to ‘cat-proof’ your home as if you had a child!
Toxoplasma and pregnancy:
This is preventative care for female cat owners!
The common misconception is that cats should not be kept as pets if you are pregnant. Fortunately this is incorrect.
Many of our staff kept their cats whilst pregnant, so it’s quite possible to have a happy, healthy child whilst still keeping a cat as a pet.
All you need is common sense and excellent hygiene to prevent the possible transmission of toxoplasma from an infected cat to a pregnant owner.
If you are worried about any of the above advice, then please do call us and book a cat consultation. One of our veterinary team will be happy to walk you through how to keep your cat happy and healthy.
Cats will only have one set of teeth throughout their life, so a strict home dental care routine is important to keep you cat’s teeth clean. This is best achieved by finger brushing their teeth on a daily basis.
Giving your cat a dental care dry food from brands such as Hills t/d and Royal Canin Dental is more effective than treats, but the most effective technique is still finger brushing.
If your cat has tartar and dental disease, talk to us about booking them in for a professional scale & polish or dental treatment under general anaesthetic. You will then be able to start home dental care again.
Having a strict home dental care routine is very important after dental surgeries, otherwise plaque and tartar will recur within a few months.
The best time to start training is when they are a kitten as they do not understand why you are trying to clean their teeth. Remember to handle them gently, give them lots of praise and maybe a delicious snack afterwards for being so good!
At Molesey Vets, our cat-only ward is a quiet, secluded environment, where pheromonal calming aids are used for cats that need to be hospitalised.
The dog ward is at the opposite end of the clinic to the cat ward, so they won’t be able to see, hear or smell any dogs during their stay. The noise from barking is significantly reduced too. We understand that the most important way for your cat to recover is to be stress-free.
In our cat ward, we take special care to make their stay as similar to their home environment as possible. This includes their diet and feeding schedule, a litter tray and comfortable bedding. We provide extra touches such as covered cages, a Feliway pheromone diffuser, catnip spray and toys.
In addition, all of our Vets make sure they check our feline patients before attending to the dogs in the morning so they do not get upset from the smell of dogs.
Many of the cats we see have become overweight as they reach maturity. They have an easy, comfortable life with constant access to food, and not enough exercise.
If you feel that your cat is overweight (or if the Vet tells you this!) you are more than welcome to make an appointment for a ‘Weight Consultation’ with one of our Veterinarians.
International Body Condition Scoring explains that the ideal body condition of domestic dogs or cats is when they have a good layer of muscle covering the ribs and back bone. The ribs, the tips of the hips and back bones are palpable but not visible, and they have a visible waist between their ribs and hips.
All indoor cats should only have a small amount of fat in their tummy area between their hind legs. Diabetes is one of the diseases caused by diabetes in cats. If you are worried about your cat becoming overweight, then please do book a consultation with us. It is very important to introduce your cat to a slimming diet slowly and gradually.
During a regular check up, your Vet may recommend and discuss a weight-loss diet, and will be able to give you advice on the right combination of foodstuffs and how to encourage your cat to do more exercise.
The Vet will set a realistic target weight & a period of time to lose this weight.
As with humans, losing weight too fast is not healthy, and as cats are much smaller than us, we may plan for them to lose just a few grams per week.
Once the diet plan has been set we will then be happy to book free “weight monitoring” checks for you to follow up, usually every month or two months, and these will be with our Nursing Team.
It can be very rewarding to see your overweight cat regain their flexibility and mobility when they achieve that healthy weight!
Cats love to play, and they especially enjoy toys with moving parts and unpredictable movement. Before you purchase a new cat toy, make sure it is safe (e.g. avoid small parts or loose string they could ingest).
Cats also love high places to hide where they can watch the world below. They need a safe hiding place (for example, on top of cupboards and wardrobes) or a hide box to help them feel safe and reduce stress. This is particularly important in a household with multiple cats.
Scratching posts: Cats needs to scratch as this helps sharpen their claws. Cats do have different preferences – some will like vertical posts whilst others prefer horizontal boards. Try different scratching posts and see which your cat prefers.
Catnip: Catnip and cat grass are some of the most irresistible scents for cats. If you spray these scents onto scratching posts it will encourage your cat to use them instead of your favourite furniture. These scents are also useful for reducing stress in multi-cat households.
“We don’t own cats, cats own us.”
“Dogs worship their owners, and humans worship cats.”
These sayings accurately sum up the relationship between humans and their cats! Cats are not small dogs. They are not pack animals, they are loners. Mostly independent apart from mating, the rearing of offspring or with cats of the same household, most cats do not like to socialise with other cats. With a few exceptions (social butterflies that are sociable to humans and other cats too), most domestic moggies like their routine; they want to tomorrow to be the same as today.
We often receive calls from new cat owners who are worried about their cat making a strange noise. There’s nothing to worry about, this noise is often just the cat purring.
Purring is the vibrating, throaty noises cats make when they’re happy, and is one of the cat’s most endearing features. Some cats may purr when they see their owner, some cats purr as loud as mini engines, and some may salivate as they purr on their owner’s lap.
Cats love to scratch things, so the provision of different scratching posts will encourage your cat to scratch in an acceptable area, instead of ruining your favourite furniture. De-clawing is unethical and quite rightly, illegal in this country. We can help you clip your cat’s claws, but sometimes you have to simply accept the fact there will be some scratching damage – this is a cat’s natural behaviour!
When you have indoor cats, making sure they have enough toilets is important if you want to keep your house clean and your cats’ stress levels low.
We would recommend you provide 1 litter tray for each cat plus one extra. This means for 2 cats you need 3 litter trays, for 3 cats you need 4 litter trays and so on. This means they have a litter tray each, and one is almost always clean. This is not always easy to achieve but for several cats, we would advise that there should be at least two trays.
Cats do bully each other, and one of the more subtle ways is to take over a rival’s litter tray!
Scoop out faeces and urine daily to keep the trays clean, and you should thoroughly wash each tray once a week. Once your cat is accustomed to a certain brand of litter, do not change it abruptly.
Some cats can be extremely clean and fastidious, so you may want to consider lining the litter trays with newspaper and putting in only small amounts of litter materials each day. You will also have to completely empty and change the litter tray material daily.
You can train kittens to use a human toilet! This is usually around 8 to 12 weeks of age, but please discuss this with your Vet and do extensive research before you start training!
Urine Off, an enzymatic cleanser, can be used to neutralise the smell of urine in areas your cat may have had an accident.
Cats are notoriously territorial, so NEVER take your cats out to play dates, pet shop tours, or invite other cats to come into your house to play. You may enjoy it, but a cat never enjoys entertaining other felines in their home.
In their adult stage of life, cats are not sociable with other cats. Many cats (older than a year) will not readily accept another strange cat. They are more likely to bond when introduced as kittens rather than introducing older cats into a house with cats of a similar age.
In their natural environment, wild cats have very large territories so confining a large number of cats in a small area can lead to excess stress and more infighting. You need to assess your cat’s personality before taking new cats home.
To help relieve stress and reduce tension in multi-cat households, provide them with several litter trays, and water & food containers in different areas of the house.
Another way to reduce stress is to provide them with hiding places. Cats enjoy watching their surroundings, so these hiding places should be secure, quiet, and preferably high up. Make sure the entrances to these hiding places don’t face the same room or direction, as cats do not like to glare at each other all day!
Reducing stress is important because chronic stress will lead to many diseases including cystitis and skin diseases.
If you have multiple cats in your household it may also be worth considering using a plug-in ‘Feliway’ diffuser in order to help reduce their stress levels.
If you would like more advice on caring for kittens and cats, contact our friendly team who will be happy to help.