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Congratulations on getting a new family friend! The first thing we need to do is to make sure your pet is healthy and to be sure that he adjusts to the household routine. Below we've listed some health care concerns that apply to all cats. The level of care your new cat has had in the past will determine which of these need to be addressed. Unfortunately, some times you do not receive any records that verify what has been done, or you are told "he's had everything." But, what is "everything" and when did he have it? For example, when did he actually have that rabies vaccine and can you verify it if you need to prove it to county officials? Therefore, we recommend a complete physical examination and dental examination for all new "adoptees," so call for an appointment at 574-654-3129. Be sure to bring along any medical records you might have so we can see what has been done and what has not. To help reduce your costs, we offer a Preventive Health Plan that covers examinations, blood and stool tests, a year supply of heartworm and flea prevention, and other services; the Dental Plan also includes a complete dental prophylaxis with anesthesia, IV fluids, ultrasonic and manual scaling, polishing, fluoride treatment and barrier sealant. For more information on these plans, click on the Preventive Health Care tab at left.
Every new cat should be tested for Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and Feline Immunodefiency (FIV) viruses. These deadly infections are quite common in our area but the cat may be symptom free for quite some time. Left undiagnosed, your cat's immune system becomes weakened and the development of cancer is quite possible. During this time, you've invested lots of time, money, and emotion only to later find that your beloved pet is succumbing to one of these virus. In addition, he may have spread it to other cats in your house.... there's nothing more heartbreaking than to have been a good samaritan by adopting a homeless cat only to find that he has infected your long time beloved house cat with one of these deadly viruses.
Internal Parasite Control is a must. Various intestinal parasite infections are quite common in cats and although may not show symptoms initially (you will rarely see worms with the exception of tapeworms and occasionally roundworms), they can drain valuable nutrients and blood. In addition, they are transmissible to other pets and even to people. Even if the pet has been de-wormed, you should bring in a stool sample for microscopic examination since no de-wormer gets every parasite that's possible or it might not have cleared all the worms that it should have. Another internal parasite is heartworm which is a deadly worm spread by mosquitoes. Preventive medication can be given every month which may also help to prevent intestinal worms and external parasites.
Flea and tick treatment and/or preventive measures may be needed as well. We are always surprised by the number of pets that come in with fleas and their owner had no idea the infestation was present. You want to be sure to control these before other pets get infected or the house becomes infested, plus they can spread other internal diseases to your new pet and in sensitive animals, can cause terrible skin conditions. Ear mites are another very common parasite that is extremely irritating to the cat and also contagious to other pets
Vaccinations should be current and include at the very least the combination vaccine of distemper, rhinotracheitis calicivirus, and chlamydia as well as the state required rabies vaccine. However, you may have been told that the cat is current or "had all his shots" but you should bring his records for us to check to see if indeed they are up to date. Other vaccines to consider, based on your cat's risk of exposure include feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus vaccines. Others are also available for special situations.
Nutrition. It is best to keep your cat on the same food he has been on while he adjusts to the new house since the stress of a move can predispose to intestinal upset, just as dietary change can. Dietary changes should be made gradually. It is definitely best to use premium brand foods such as Science Diet, Purina ProPlan, or Eukanuba for the proper balance of highly digestible nutrients. Although most owners simply fill up a bowl of dry food, this is not the preferred feeding method. First, portions should be measured, preferably to at least twice a day meals, in order to regulate calories and prevent obesity which leads to a whole host of very serious diseases. Secondly, recent studies have shown that canned food are much better to optimize the cat's metabolism since they are high protein and low carbohydrate like their natural diet of "critters" rather than dry food which is high in carbohydrates. Although we are not saying that you cannot feed dry foods, at least a portion of his diet should be canned and the amount of dry should be limited.
Training. Hopefully your new friend is used to using a litter box; usually little training is needed beyond showing them where the box is kept. However, failure to use the litter box is the most common behavior problem in cats and is the most common reason for them to be relinquished to a shelter, where euthanasia is a common ending. Another consideration, though, is that the addition of a new cat will sometimes cause a cat who already lives in your house to become anxious, which then causes the older cat to eliminate outside of the box. Some preventive measures are to have at least one more litter box than you have cats, have them in different areas of the house so that it is always readily available and access is not blocked by another cat's presence, and make sure the boxes are scooped out every day and cleaned entirely once weekly.
Spaying and Neutering. If your new cat is not already spayed or neutered, we strongly recommend doing this as soon as he is adjusted to his new home. By doing this simple procedure, you can prevent many potential health problems, lessen numerous behavioral problems, and avoid adding to the unwanted pet overpopulation problem. Although declawing is an option, training your pet to not be destructive, keeping the nails trimmed short, and using nail caps are much less painful ways to minimize household damage.