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pets:cats

cats as pets

Introduction

  • before you get a cat as a pet you should understand a number of things
    • many people are allergic to a protein in cat saliva
      • this will cause hay fever and possible exacerbate asthma and the protein is shed into the household air and environment (where it may remain for months) largely by the self-grooming that cats frequently do by licking their fur
      • some cats are regarded as “hypo-allergenic” due to reduced amount of fur or protein in the saliva but they will still cause allergies in those who are sensitive, although they may be less
    • lifting heavy adult male cats might do your back in as you get older
      • consider smaller, lighter females (~4kg adults) and ensure they do not become obese by over-feeding them
    • most cats live to 12-20 yrs, some even to 25 years and thus they are a long term commitment
    • cats should not be allowed to roam neighborhoods
      • allowing cats to roam dramatically increases their risk of injury, illness and death and increases deaths to other animals
        • the number 1 cause of premature death in pet cats is trauma - mainly road trauma
          • around half of deaths under age 5 yrs is from trauma and half of these are road trauma
          • it is in the top 6 of causes of deaths in older cats
        • the number 2 cause of premature death in cats aged under 5 yrs are viral infections such as:
          • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
            • this is the cat equivalent of HIV and is usually acquired from bites from other cats
            • there is a vaccine which is partly effective in preventing this but avoiding cat fights by not allowing your cat to roam or allow other cats to roam into your cat's domain is critical in preventing this infection
        • bites from other cats also will cause abscess formation which will require expensive vet care to treat but may still be life threatening
        • domestic cats kill 230 million Australian birds, reptiles and mammals each year
    • cats are obligate carnivores - they will die if you feed them a vegetarian diet!
      • but avoid raw meats, unpasteurised dairy products such as soft cheeses / goats cheese as risk of Salmonella or Listeria
    • cats seem to always ask for food - take care not to over-feed them or they will become obese and unhealthy
    • cats are very different to dogs and will usually only do things on their terms and do not seem to have a need to please you but they will show love and thanks when they feel like it
    • cats will generally only want to cuddle you if they are not hot
    • cats have an inner sense of illness or impending death and will generally try to hide from their owners
    • cats need regular vaccinations and topical medications to reduce risk of fleas and parasites
      • FIV vaccination (can start at 8wks age)
      • F4 vaccination against 4 common feline viruses
      • FeLV vaccination (can start at 8wks age)
      • roundworm infections are common as is Toxoplasmosis
      • flea-associated illness is common and includes Bartonella henselae which causes cat scratch fever
      • the ectoparasite Ctenocephalides felis may carry Mycoplasma haemofelis, Candidatus M. haemominutum, and Candidatus M. turicensis common causes of haemolytic anemia in cats
      • in some areas, Ancylostoma tubaeforme (cutaneous larva migrans) and Toxocara cati (visceral and ocular larva migrans) may be a risk
    • cats can jump very high
    • unlike dogs, cats generally do not do well on a lead going for a walk
    • many plants and foods (eg. chocolate, coffee) are toxic to cats
    • bites from a cat are likely to need surgical care as they tend to be deep
    • scratches from a cat can cause cat scratch fever and long term swollen lymph nodes
    • cats can transmit toxoplasmosis which can be dangerous to pregnant women and babies
    • cats may carry other infections which may be a risk to immunocompromised humans such as those with AIDS or on chemotherapy
    • cats have a habit of walking in front of you or suddenly stopping and can be a major falls risk to the elderly
    • feral cats are pests and kill millions of native animals in Australia each day!
      • they have caused the extinction of some ground-dwelling birds and small to medium-sized mammals and threaten the extinction of over 100 species of animals in Australia such as bilby, bandicoot, bettong and numbat.
      • Australian wildife are 20 x more likely to encounter a feral cat than a native predator
      • don't let your cat or kittens become strays - have your kitten neutered
        • neutering also tends to increase life span of cats by around 6 months for females and 2 yrs for males on average1)

common causes of premature death under age 10years

  • trauma - especially road trauma
  • cat bites from other cats
    • bacterial sepsis from abscesses
    • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
  • cats are prone to some other infections which may cause premature death:
    • Feline Leukaemia Virus infection (FeLV)
      • this is usually acquired by prolonged contact with other infected cats such as in catteries or at breeders and is spread by saliva or nasal secretions
      • infection is most common in male outdoor cats aged 1-6yrs
      • 30% become persistently viraemic and die within 2-3 years of FeLV related illnesses
      • 30% have a transient illness, develop antibodies and recover in 4-6 weeks
      • remainder have latent infection which may re-surface when their immune system is compromised by infection, stress or steroid therapy when it develops into clinical disease and shedding of viruses as well as suppressing the bone marrow raising risk of life threatening bacterial or fungal infections
      • at necropsy, a quarter have tumours, 96% are lymphosarcoma (most commonly in the mediastinum, alimentary tract, spleen, lymph nodes, kidney, or liver) or leukaemia
      • there is a vaccine available but the kitten may already have acquired the infection from the breeder's cattery.
    • Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP)
      • FIP virus is a mutated feline enteric coronavirus which may be lethal
      • most infections occur in catteries or multi-cat households and most infections occur aged under 5yrs and is the most common cause of jaundice in cats under age 2yrs
    • Feline panleukopenia (Feline parvoviral enteritis)
      • causes vomiting with bloody diarrhoea and may be lethal
    • Listeriosis
      • young or old or immunocompromised cats may develop severe Listeria infection usually from eating raw meats or unpasteurised dairy products such as soft cheeses / goat cheeses
  • feline lower urinary tract disease
    • acute renal failure from obstruction of urethra by stone/plug
    • usually obese indoor cats aged 2- 6 years
  • tumours
    • risk of developing lymphoma (LSA) is increased by 5x with FIV infection and by 77x with FeLV and FIV co-infection

interesting facts about cats

  • cat vision
    • have eyes that are set more on the sides of the head, which allows them a broader range of peripheral vision than we have (200deg vs 180deg) but do not have as good a depth perception nor long distance acuity as humans (things get a bit blurry beyond 20 feet)
    • they have more rod cells in their retina, and these are faster refreshing and their pupils can dilate more giving better night vision
    • cats are essentially “red-green color blind” somewhat similar to the common R-G color blindness of humans but more so:
      • photoreceptors are most sensitive to wavelengths in the blue-violet and greenish-yellow ranges so they are not able to discern color in reds and most greens but they can discern color in yellows, blues and a little bit of green
pets/cats.txt · Last modified: 2022/07/23 16:24 by gary1

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