There are four components to a good preventative medicine program in cats:
Vaccination – The standard F4 vaccination that we use here protects against feline herpesvirus (cat flu), feline calicivirus (cat flu), feline parvovirus (enteritis) and feline leukaemia. All of these diseases can potentially be fatal. Cats require vaccination annually.
Worming – Four types of intestinal worm affect cats: roundworm, hookworm, whipworm and tapeworm. Worms can cause diarrhoea, malnutrition, lethargy, poor appetite, weight loss and occasionally vomiting. Worming is required every 2 weeks until the age of 12 weeks, monthly until the age of 6 months, then 3-monthly for life.
Flea treatment – To completely prevent fleas, cats should receive flea treatment monthly. This is essential for cats with flea allergy dermatitis (see Flea Allergy Dermatitis Information Sheet). However, cats that are indoors and have minimal contact with other cats may not need flea treatment this regularly.
Heartworm treatment – Dewormers do not protect against heartworm. Heartworm is primarily a disease of dogs, but it is possible for cats to become 'accidentally' infected. It is spread by mosquitoes, so even if your cat is not in contact with other animals, this does not guarantee that he or she will not become infected. Heartworm is literally an infestation of worms in the heart, that can cause lethargy, weight loss, difficulty breathing, coughing, poor appetite or a range of other signs. Heartworm is very rare in dogs in Melbourne, and even more rare in cats, so it is not essential that you provide protection – but it is important to be aware that, without protection, infection is possible.
Here you can find information and advice about common problems and diseases. Please remember, though, that this information can't replace a visit to the vet!