I have been thinking recently of things that often get missed.  This discussion on feline preventative medicine is long overdue.  I mentioned to a group recently that they should not forget to “winterize” their outdoor cats and they got a chuckle out of that.  Let me explain what I meant.  I am talking to two different types of people – they are cat owners and cat caretakers.  There are many people who care for outdoor cats who are reluctant to take that final step and admit they are the primary caretaker for the cat.  There are plenty of neighborhood cats that fit this picture – they are outdoors all year round and several people share the responsibility of feeding them.  However, there is usually one person to whom that responsibility primarily falls and this is the person that is actually the owner of the cat, whether they would like to admit it, or not.  So face it, you own a cat.  Now read on to see how to better care for that cat.  I know you care – you keep feeding it!  
Cats that are outdoors for ANY length of time during the day should be protected against all they face while they are outside.  First there are parasites.  External parasites include fleas, lice, and mites.  Internal parasites include roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, heartworms, and coccidia.  Next there are viruses such as Panleukopenia, rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, leukemia, FIV, and rabies.  Finally there are opportunistic bacteria that can attack the skin, respiratory tract, digestive tract, wounds, etc.  It only took four lines of text, but that is a lot of stuff these cats are faced with.  Keep in mind that indoor cats have susceptibility to a lot of these things as well.  Add to this the fact that outdoor cats have to avoid cars, keep warm, deal with fighting, watch out for predators, and still get their daily meals, find a spot to rest, and monitor their territory.  There is a lot to keep them busy.

Winterize your cat: be sure to deworm, get vaccinations updated, and test for FeLV (leukemia), FIV, and heartworm disease.  Put prevention on your cat to keep them safe from fleas.  I like Revolution and Profender, but there are other products that you can use.  If you use Revolution and Profender, you can protect against heartworms, fleas, hookworms, roundworms, and ear mites.  You can kill existing roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms.  These products cover a lot of ground!  See you vet to discuss the situation with the cat for the upcoming months.  Remember that fleas are at their worst RIGHT NOW and fleas transmit tapeworms.  Get your cat tested for the common transmissible viruses and update vaccinations regularly.  These cats are in need of your support – provide more than just kibble for them to eat – keep them safe from all they face on a daily basis.  Thank you for caring!

Dr. Amy Hellard
West Chester Veterinary Care (WCVC)