Cats are masters at hiding illness, so it is recommended that you visit your vet at least once a year to give your cat the all clear. By supporting this campaign, together we can improve the health of cats in our local community.
Animal Health Supplier Boehringer Ingelheim with the support of PIAA Pet Industry Association & Feline Practitioners developed a campaign ‘Have we seen your Cat lately?’ to help address this issue.
Did you know that many cats are not receiving the care they deserve? Australia has a pet cat population of 3.8 million, 29% of households own a cat. Yet, 35% of pet cats have not visited the vet in the past 12 months (over 1.35 million cats!) Source: Animal Medicines Australia Pet Ownership in Australia Report 2016 report.
Every year, more and more people have cats as pets, but cats continue to receive fewer annual veterinary health checks compared to dogs. What’s more, cats are living longer than they did 20 years ago. That’s why putting off veterinary visits can place your cat’s health at risk.
Cats can’t brush their teeth, but just like people, they are at risk for dental problems that can cause pain and serious health issues. Your cat is counting on you for dental care to stay healthy and happy.
Plaque and Tartar
Saliva, bacteria and food particles combine to form plaque every day. Plaque is the film you feel on your teeth in the morning when you wake up. Within 24 hours the plaque may begin to turn into tartar, a hard yellowish deposit on the teeth. Plaque also causes gingivitis – an infection of the gum - that is the first stage of periodontal disease.
A problem at all ages
70% of cats have periodontal disease by the age of two, but other types of gum disease can occur even earlier. The major cause of gum disease is accumulation of plaque, which contains a high number of bacteria. These bacteria can spread to the lungs, liver, kidney and heart, causing infection there. Periodontal disease is painful, even if your cat may not show it.
Your vet will be able to spot any problems during your cat’s check-up, but until then, here are some things to look out for:
• Bad breath
• Yellow and brown tartar deposits on the teeth – normal teeth should always be white
• A red line along the gum line (gingivitis)
• Difficulty eating
• Bleeding gums
A good brush
There are 3 parts to taking care of your cat’s teeth:
1) Regular tooth brushing
2) A special food that works like a toothbrush
3) Regular check-ups with your vet – every 6 months or AT LEAST once a year.
Brushing will be easier if you begin while your cat is still young, although you may have success even if you start with an older cat, provided she doesn’t already have painful gum disease.
Don’t use toothpaste designed for people, there are pastes specially designed for pets that are safer. Ask your vet or vet nurse what he or she would recommend and get them to show you what to do.
You should brush your cat’s teeth at least once a week, but once a day is best.
In addition to tooth brushing or instead of, you can use a special food. Hill’s Prescription Diet t/d is created with a unique structure and size that helps reduce plaque, tartar and gingivitis. Regular dry food does not remove plaque. This is the simplest way of making sure your cat gets some form of ‘brushing’ each day.
If you see any of these subtle signs of illness in your cat, it’s time to visit your veterinarian:
• Inappropriate elimination behaviour or litter tray use
• Changes in interaction
• Changes in activity
• Changes in sleeping habits
• Changes in food and water consumption
• Unexplained weight loss or gain
• Changes in grooming
• Signs of stress
• Changes in vocalisation
• Bad breath
Scheduled health checks are vital to your cat’s health, call your local Sydney Animal Hospital;