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Cat health and advice

Cat health and advice

We know that you want your cat to shine at his very brightest, so we understand that you may have a few health-related questions from time to time. To help, our experts have answered some of the most frequently-asked questions about cats and kittens below.

Food and nutrition

Feeding

Why is GO-CAT® good for my cat?

GO-CAT® is a 100% complete and balanced formula, which means that it delivers all the essential nutrients cats need every day. Each product is covered by the GO-CAT® Promise; our commitment to cat owners that guarantees:
• A range of great-tasting products, so there’s always something he’ll enjoy!
• 100% complete and balanced nutrition, including high-quality proteins, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals to help support your cat’s healthy, vitality and happiness
• Food is made by PURINA® experts, using over 85 years of experience in pet nutrition

In short, GO-CAT® provides your little friend with the food he loves and needs – so he can continue to surprise and delight you every day!

How much should I feed my cat?

Cats should be fed as individuals, and the amount of food required depends on their activity level and personal metabolism. Always refer to the on-pack feeding guide for a guideline recommendation on how much to feed.

Because cats tend to be ‘graze’ feeders, they should have access to their food for several hours each day. However, this does not mean that you should give them access to food all the time, unless your cat is pregnant or lactating, or you have a kitten.

Fresh, clean drinking water should always be available. Sufficient consumption of water is a vital part of healthy, everyday nutrition.

What is the role of protein in cat food?

Protein is an essential nutrient for dogs and cats, made up of large, complex chains of amino acids. Some of these amino acids are essential, which means that they have to come from the food. Other amino acids which are not ‘essential’ can be made by the body from other food ingredients.

Kittens

What should I feed my kitten?

Weaning is the process of transitioning kittens from mother’s milk on to food. This process normally begins when kittens are around four weeks old, and is usually completed when they reach eight to ten weeks of age.

The best way of weaning kittens is to give them access to their mother's food. You can gradually start weaning them on to a kitten diet, such as GO-CAT® kitten, which is suitable for both kittens and pregnant or lactating mothers. To help make chewing easier, mix dry food with cooling boiled water to make a sloppy, porridge-like consistency.

You can provide the food to your kitten in a number of ways:
• Smear a little around the mouth – your kitten will naturally lick it off
• Let your kitten use his natural senses of smell to explore the food himself

Fresh, clean drinking water should always be available. Sufficient consumption of water is a necessary part of healthy, every day nutrition.

Why should I feed my kitten a kitten formula?

Just as human babies and children require a different diet to adult humans, kittens need different nutrients to adult cats to help them grow and develop. A specially formulated kitten food like GO-CAT® kitten contains high levels of protein to help support healthy growth and organ development, and essential minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and iron to help build strong bones and teeth.

Kittens – and adult cats - also have a unique requirement for taurine, an essential amino acid that helps promote a healthy heart and sharp vision. Your kitten will require a complete and balanced food such as GO-CAT® kitten until he is one year old.

 

At what age should I move my kitten on to adult cat food?

When your kitten reaches his first birthday, it's time to switch him over to an adult diet - GO-CAT® Adult products are ideal. All of our recipes are 100% complete and balanced to help support your cat’s health, vitality and happiness. Make the transition gradually, slowly increasing the amount of the new cat food and reducing the amount of the kitten food over a period of at least five days.

Is it OK for my kitten to eat adult cat food?

To promote healthy growth and development, it is very important to feed your kitten a specifically formulated kitten food such as GO-CAT® kitten. Adult cat food is formulated for cats that are already fully grown, so it may not contain enough of the nutrients he needs to grow healthy and strong.

Lactating or pregnant cats

Why is it good to feed my pregnant/lactating cat with kitten food?

A pregnant or lactating cat needs extra vitamins, minerals and protein to support the growth of her kittens, help her produce milk and provide extra calories for energy. All of these nutritional requirements are covered by GO-CAT® kitten.

Ideally, your cat should start eating a complete and balanced kitten food as soon as you are aware that she is pregnant. This will help support the extra requirements that she will have from the early stages of pregnancy.

The amount of food your cat needs rises dramatically while she’s nursing - take a look at our feeding guidelines to find out how much food your pregnant or lactating cat requires. In order to ensure she has enough food, it may be beneficial to leave out a bowl of dry food all day so she can graze as required.

Fresh, clean drinking water should always be available, especially for lactating cats that are producing milk. Sufficient consumption of water is a vital part of healthy, everyday nutrition for all cats.

Indoor cats

Why feed my indoor cat with an indoor formula?

Cats that spend most or all of their lives indoors not only need extra time from their owners to groom and play with them - they also need extra care when it comes to nutrition. Indoor cats tend to spend more than 70% of their day asleep, hence they exercise less, leading to weight gain. Indoor cats also tend to groom more, which increases the likelihood of hairballs in their stomach. They may also be more prone to urinary tract conditions.

GO-CAT® for Indoor Cats is 100% nutritionally complete and balanced, containing carefully adjusted levels of protein and fat to help reduce the risk of excessive weight gain. It provides the right balance of minerals to help maintain a healthy urinary tract; natural fibres to help reduce hairballs and aid digestion; and chicory to help reduce litter box smells. You’ll find it in most supermarkets alongside the standard GO-CAT® range.

Human food

Is human food suitable for cats? Can I feed my cat with food from the dinner table?

It is strongly advisable not to feed your cat table scraps for several reasons. Firstly, some human foods are toxic to cats, even in small amounts – for example, onions or chocolate. In addition, most human foods are not nutritionally appropriate or balanced for cats – if they are too high in fat or too spicy, it can result in tummy upsets.

Cats have different nutritional requirements to humans, which means that human food will not necessarily contain all the nutrients your cat needs. Finally, allowing cats to eat at the table is inadvisable. Not only could it cause safety and hygiene issues, it could also lead to behavioural problems. Always feed your cat from his bowl so he does not develop bad begging habits.

Dog food

Is it OK for my cat to eat dog food?

No. Dog food is not suitable for cats as they have additional nutritional requirements, including taurine and arachidonic acid, which may not be present in high enough levels in dog food. Since dog food does not contain as many of these nutrients as cat food, it will not provide a complete and balanced diet for a cat. The unique dietary requirements of cats can be safely fulfilled by providing them with a complete and balanced cat food like GO-CAT®.

General health and care

General care

How can I check that my cat is healthy and a normal weight?

Healthy cats usually have a good appetite and a lively demeanour. If your cat is quieter than normal or not eating as well as usual, it is important to contact your vet. Healthy cats also have clean ears and skin with no itchiness or bald patches, bright clean eyes and a damp nose free from discharge.

It is relatively easy to weigh your cat using household scales. Get your vet to tell you his ideal weight and monitor it regularly. You can also assess your cat’s weight by looking at his body condition score*. A cat with optimal body condition score (i.e. not over or underweight) will have a slim, tucked up tummy when viewed from the side; his ribs will not be visible but will be easy to feel without excessive fat covering them.

Talk to your vet about how best to monitor your cat’s weight. Obesity is common and keeping your cat at his optimal weight is one of the best ways to help keep him healthy.

* Available on FEDIAF, The European Pet Food Industry Federation at www.fediaf.org/self-regulation/nutrition

I heard cats are prone to get urinary tract diseases. What can I do to prevent my cat from urinary tract health issues?

Problems that affect a cat’s lower urinary system often prevent the bladder from emptying correctly, and may even cause a fatal blockage of the urethra (the tube connecting the bladder to the outside of the body). Very often the culprit is Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) which is not merely one problem, but a collection of clinical symptoms that may have more than one possible cause. Clinical signs of FLUTD include frequent or painful urination, bloody urine and frequent licking of the urinary opening.

In order to treat FLUTD, it is important to determine the root cause, which may include bladder stones, urinary tract blockage, infection or even stress. Some cats are more prone to lower urinary tract conditions than others. Male cats are generally more prone to urethral blockages because of their narrower urethras.

FLUTD is rarely diagnosed in animals younger than one year; the average age is typically four years, with middle aged cats most at risk. Obese, indoor and neutered cats are all also at increased risk, as are those which take little exercise or that live in a multi-cat household.

If your cat has been diagnosed with FLUTD, ask your vet for advice on how best to help your cat. If your cat has been diagnosed with urinary stones then your vet may advise a veterinary-prescribed diet to help reduce the risk of these stones recurring. If your cat has a stress-related FLUTD such as Feline Idiopathic Cystitis, your vet may recommend ways to increase your cat’s water intake, such as using a wet diet.

Even if your cat has never been diagnosed with FLUTD, there are ways that you can help reduce the risk of him developing the condition:
• Ensure that he has access to plenty of fresh, clean water to encourage him to drink and produce dilute urine. Using a ceramic bowl is best as plastic bowls can taint the flavour of the water. Use a large bowl so your cat’s whiskers do not touch the sides as he drinks. If possible, position his water bowl away from his litter tray and food bowl. Multiple water bowls around the house will also encourage him to drink more. Increasing your cat’s water intake ensures that he produces dilute urine, which reduces the risk of crystal and stone formation and the likelihood of concentrated urine irritating the bladder.
• Encourage exercise and play with your cat as often as possible.
• Change and clean your cat’s litter tray frequently. Cats are by nature very clean animals. So if his litter tray is dirty, your cat will avoid using it - meaning that urine will stay in his bladder longer, potentially causing irritation and crystal build-up.
• Avoid abrupt dietary changes, especially if transitioning from a wet to a dry diet. Changing his diet too quickly can cause diarrhoea. Water is then lost in the cat’s faeces, resulting in more concentrated urine and other associated problems.
• Use a diet designed to produce a moderately acidic urine to help reduce the risk of certain stones forming. GO-CAT® is ideal. If possible, allow your cat to graze on his kibbles throughout the day rather than feeding a few small meals as this will promote a constant urinary pH during the day.
• Avoid stress to your cat. Stressful situations such as house moves, the arrival of a new baby and even serious weather have all been known to cause bouts of FLUTD in cats. Where possible, make any new transition as easy as possible for your cat to lessen the effect of stress. Talk to your vet about ideas to help your cat cope with any upcoming stressful events.

GO-CAT® recipes are designed to support a healthy urinary tract. All our formulas are complete and balanced foods specially formulated to meet the nutritional needs of healthy cats. Our formulas have been developed by expert nutritionists and vets to help cats maintain a healthy urinary pH, and contain balanced minerals to help maintain a healthy urinary system. However, they are not intended to treat sick animals.

Grooming

How do I groom my cat?

Regular grooming will not only help keep him looking good – it will make him feel good, too! As well as removing dead hair and keeping his coat and skin healthy, it will help you build a stronger bond, reduce the risk of hairballs, and give you the opportunity to check his overall health.

Make grooming part of your cat's routine as early on as possible, ideally when he is still a kitten. It will give you the chance to spot external parasites and skin wounds, keep fur off your sofa and build a closer relationship. As a guide, longhaired cats need grooming daily, otherwise once a week is usually enough.

Grooming and brushing

Kittens' coats are softer, fluffier and shorter than adults’. Even if grooming isn’t required, it’s a good idea to get them used to it from an early age. And because they like it, they'll love you for the extra attention too. Most will even come scampering over when they see their brush or comb in your hand!

For shorthaired cats:
• Use a fine-toothed metal comb weekly and a natural-bristle or rubber brush to remove any dead hairs.
• Gently brush or comb your cat in the direction that the hair grows.
• Use the bristle brush to sweep up the coat in the direction of the head and then smooth it down again.

For longhaired cats
• Groom daily with a steel comb.
• Knots can be teased out with your fingers or cut off carefully with blunt-ended scissors. Alternatively, you may want to get your vet to do this if you are concerned about accidentally cutting the skin.
• If grooming is a struggle, try distracting your cat with kibble, stroking and talking reassuringly, and then gently resume grooming.

Bathing

Seeing your cat look their best will fill you with pride. And while shorthaired cats can happily go through life without a bath, there may be times when they need a quick dip.

On the other hand, longhaired breeds and show cats require more regular bathing, so make sure you introduce them to bath time, in warm water, from an early age. Most cats do not like water and can display aggressive behaviour when being bathed - so if you're not entirely comfortable bathing your kitten yourself, you can always ask your groomer or vet for help.

What do I do about cleaning teeth, claws, ears and eyes?

Cats are naturally clean, so there's very little for you to do! Simply give them a quick once-over each week, cleaning their eyes and ears with a damp piece of absorbent cotton wool, and checking their teeth and claws. Please note, you should ONLY clean the outer ear. Do not clean further down your cat’s ear canal than you can see, and never use a cotton bud.

You should brush your cat’s teeth daily using a veterinary toothpaste and specially-designed toothbrush. Getting your kitten used to tooth brushing from an early age is invaluable, and may help reduce the risk of your cat needing veterinary dental scaling later in life.

As you get to know your cat, you'll notice that their claws are layered. When they climb a tree or use their scratching post, they will pull off the outer layer to reveal a new, sharper nail underneath (you will often find discarded outer husks around favourite scratching areas). That's why active cats rarely need their nails cut. However, indoor and older cats may need a little more attention.

Vaccinations

What do I need to do about vaccinations?

Cats need to visit a vet once a year for vaccinations. You should discuss vaccinations with your vet and try to keep a record of what has been given and when they are next due. Kittens usually need an initial course of at least two injections, followed by their annual booster. Actual requirements vary from area to area, so discuss the best vaccination plan for your particular cat with your vet.

Worming and fleas

What is the treatment for worming?

There are two types of worms that affect cats: roundworms and tapeworms.

Roundworms in particular can affect kittens. It is recommended that you worm your kitten every month until six months of age, then at nine and 12 months. From the age of one year onwards, your cat should be wormed three or four times annually. Your vet will provide you with a worming regime at the time of the first vaccination.

Tapeworms look like small pieces of rice and are often seen stuck to the anus or the tail. Cats can get this parasite by hunting and eating their kill (e.g. birds, mice, etc.), by eating raw meat, or from fleas in their coat. For effective treatment of this hard-to-remove parasite, see your vet who may also advise appropriate flea control.

What can I do about my cat's flea problem?

Fleas are not just your cat’s problem - for every flea in his fur, there could be 99 developing fleas in your home! Fleas are the most common external parasite among cats and dogs. Adult fleas can live for months, and will divide their time between living on your cat, feeding, and laying eggs. There are many treatments for fleas and worms available in the shops and vet clinics. Your vet will be able to advise you on the one most suitable for your cat and home.

In season

How do I know if my cat is in season (Oestrus)?

Cats reach puberty between five to nine months and oestrus starts suddenly. If the cat is mated, her oestrus will stop abruptly after several matings a day. If there is no mating, the oestrus lasts five to ten days and recurs after five to 12 days.

Signs of oestrus can be alarming for owners who often think that their cat is in excruciating pain (and consequently call their vet). She cries and yowls (especially loud in oriental breeds), waves her tail around, puts her back end up and crouches down on the front legs. It is generally thought that most cats will come into season three or four weeks after giving birth. However, there has been evidence of cats getting pregnant while still feeding their kittens!

Kidney failure, FLUTD, diabetes, allergies, abscesses...

KIDNEY FAILURE, F.L.U.T.D., DIABETES, ALLERGIES, ABSCESSES...

If your cat has been diagnosed with any of the diseases above, you should ask your vet to provide you with more information about your cat’s condition, its treatment and any specific diet recommendation or prescription. Even though it does not replace a visit to your vet, you also may find it useful to have a look at the PURINA® Veterinary Diets website: www.purinaveterinarydiets.com.

In case of emergencies

In case of emergencies

We know that you want to share a long and happy life with your little friend. That's why it's important that you are able to act quickly and effectively in an emergency. Here are a few pointers that may help.

Car accidents or serious falls

Car accidents or serious falls


• Before rushing to your cat’s aid, take a look around and make sure that the situation won’t put you at risk.
• Providing it is safe, and depending on his injury, approach your cat to remove him from further danger.
• Create a 'stretcher' out of a rug or coat and gently slide your cat onto it, carefully supporting the whole body.
• Take care not to twist the body and hold the head just a little lower than the rest to keep blood flowing to the brain.
• Keep your cat warm until you reach the vet.

How to handle an injured cat

How to handle an injured cat


• Injured cats will be frightened and in pain, and may be in distress.
• Approach your cat slowly and softly. If possible, wear gloves and keep your face well away.
• If possible, and it wouldn’t cause further injury, hold your cat gently by the scruff of the neck for restraint, and then place your hand under the hindquarters for support.
• Wrap your cat in a blanket or towel to prevent any struggling.
• Place your cat in a carrier and take them to the vet immediately. If possible, call your vet before you arrive.

To stop bleeding

To stop bleeding

Apply a cold compress firmly over the wound to stem the blood flow until arrival at your veterinary practice.

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