Outdoor Cat Safety: Healthy Pet/Happy Pet 2
What will you do when the weather warms up this spring and you see all those little kittens and momma cats outside at the edge of the woods, by the golf courses, in and around the dunes, and better yet – at your back door looking for food and water? Should you feed them? Should you let them into your home? Should you expose your own pets to feral animals that could be carrying infectious diseases? It’s a tough question to answer, but most of us will probably decide to help these small creatures in need, at least for a period of time, until they no longer show up at the doorstep, or until they get taken in or adopted by some kind soul.
Free roaming cats that live outdoors are exposed to hazards that our indoor cats are not; other cats who will fight to protect their territories, dogs, predators, cars, traps, toxins, parasites, and infectious diseases.
Veterinarians can offer excellent advice and preventive care recommendations to reduce these risks in your cats, and in other cats that you may be caring for that live outdoors. This should include a discussion on appropriate vaccinations and parasite control measures for both internal parasites (of the gastrointestinal tract, and heartworms) and external parasites like fleas, ticks and mites.
We will always recommend Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) testing of kittens and adult cats that are being introduced to households that already have cats because these two feline diseases are life-threatening.
Routine, regular fecal testing is of particular importance for outdoor kittens and cats and should be performed several times per year. Parasite control products are recommended based on the needs of each cat and on their particular lifestyle, the ease of use for the cat owner, and the effectiveness of the product. Some of the best products for cats are Revolution, Profender, and Advantage-Multi for the broad range of parasites they cover.
Most veterinarians will recommend the following basic care for outdoor kitties of all ages:
- Feline leukemia virus and FIV testing – at least once at an early age, but annually may be recommended in some cases.
- Rabies vaccination – annually
- Feline Upper Respiratory Infection vaccination – annually
- Feline Leukemia vaccination-annually
- Internal parasite prevention every month, year-round, which should include Heartworm and Tapeworm prevention
- External parasite prevention every month, year-round
- Spay or Neuter surgery
- Microchip ID permanent identification, which is critical for outdoor cats.
(Did you know that 75% of cats that wind up in the shelter had homes, but no identification to find their owner?)
We love our pets and want what’s best for them. Paying attention to their needs, keeping them healthy and seeking out the advice and attention they require from a veterinarian is essential in making this happen. Cats are one of the most interesting creatures we care for because their needs are unique and different from other species. They are independent, loving, affectionate, instinctual, and very entertaining.
Make your cat’s healthcare part of your plan for 2018.