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Feline Preventive Health Care

The Animal Wellness Center follows the life stage guidelines created by the American Association of Feline Practitioners.  These stages have been created to focus attention on the specific physical and behavioral changes that occur as a cat ages. Our preventative care recommendations are then made based on your cat’s current life stage as well as their overall health. The stages we follow are:

 Kitten: Birth through 12 months

  • Adult: 12 months through 6 years
  • Mature: 7 years through 10 years
  • Senior: 11 years or more years

A minimum of one annual wellness visit is recommended for adult cats, even if they appear healthy. Once a cat reaches the mature life stage, semiannual wellness visits are then recommended. While this may seem very frequent, recommending two wellness exams each year for our older feline patients is equivalent to recommending an exam every 2-3 years for an adult human. More frequent examination will allow earlier detection of illness, especially diseases such as obesity and dental disease.

At each wellness visit, we strive to address all aspects of preventative care and make our recommendations based on your cat’s life stage and overall health. Listed below are the preventative care topics. Click on each link to read about this topic further:

Parasite Control

We all have heard that dogs need to be on year-round heartworm preventative to prevent heartworm disease and also infestation of intestinal parasites.  However, did you know cats could get these diseases too?  Regardless of whether a cat lives entirely indoors or wanders outside, all cats are at risk for roundworms, hookworms, and heartworms.

Round and hookworms are worms that live in the small intestine. Roundworms live by taking away nutrients from the cat. As a result, infected cats can progressively lose weight as these worms essentially cause them to starve. Hookworms attach to the intestinal lining (mucosa) and live by sucking the blood from the cat. Depending on the number of worms in the cat, infected cats can become very sick due to anemia (lack of red blood cells). Both types of worms can cause diarrhea as well. 

Both round and hookworms can be passed on to humans, particularly children. Children become infected when they ingest the infective eggs, which are passed in the feces. Infection can occur if they are in contact with the feces directly or even the soil where the feces was. Once the egg is ingested, larvae hatch from the egg and then migrate throughout the body. In some cases, the immature larvae can migrate to the eye, which is called ocular larval migrans, and can result in blindness.  Hookworms can also be passed to humans via skin penetration, creating very red, itchy, worm like lesions. 

Another overlooked parasite in cats is the heartworm. Just as with dogs, the mosquito is the prime culprit that transmits the immature form of the worm to the cat.  The immature worms then mature to large adult worms.  Although they are called heartworms, these worms actually primarily reside in the lungs in cats. These worms cause a massive asthma-like inflammatory reaction in the lungs that often leads to death.

All cats, even those who are only indoors, are also at risk for becoming infested with fleas.  Once a cat is infested with fleas, they are often very difficult to treat as the home is also usually infested. Fleas also transmit diseases to cats. Thankfully prevention with monthly topicals is much easier than treatment.

There are many different preventatives available with many different variations in the types of parasites they protect against. At your appointment, we will discuss the best worm and flea preventatives to use for your cat.