cat eyes shut on sofa

Keeping your cat happy!

What are Vaccinations?

vet holding kittenVaccinations contain a harmless form of the virus or bacterium that causes a particular disease.

They work by stimulating the body’s natural defence mechanisms. These are then ‘remembered’ and triggered when the pet comes into contact with the disease for real – so protecting your pet.

Why vaccinate?

There are a number of highly infectious and potentially fatal diseases which can affect your cat. For many of these conditions regular vaccinations can give your cat protection.

What diseases do we vaccinate against?

1. Feline Panleukopenia (Feline infectious Enteritis)
This is a disease which is similar to parvovirus in dogs and which can be devastating.

It is particularly dangerous for kittens and young cats, causing severe vomiting and diarrhoea which can be fatal even with treatment.

The virus is spread in infected faeces and can survive in the environment for very long periods. Vaccination can prevent this disease.

2. Catflu
This is a very common respiratory viral infection usually caused by either herpesvirus or calicivirus. This is a highly contagious disease passed from cat to cat through the air.

cat with nasal dischargeCatflu causes similar signs to human flu – sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose, loss of appetite, mouth ulcers and can sometimes cause pneumonia. They can be left with lifelong health problems including chronic sinusitis, dental disease and recurrent eye inflammation.

Cats infected with catflu can carry the virus for long periods with some not showing symptoms, while spreading the virus to any unvaccinated cat they meet.

Regular vaccinations are needed to give your cat ongoing protection, especially if there are any stray or feral cats in your area.

3. Feline Leukaemia (FeLV)
This is a very important viral infection of cats. The virus causes immunosuppression (destroys the cat’s immune system), anaemia as well as cancer.

The virus is spread by direct contact with other cats and can also pass from mother to kittens while pregnant. Vaccination is therefore vital for this disease, particularly in kittens as they tend to be most susceptible to FeLV infection.

4. Rabies
See Passport section

When do we vaccinate?

• Kittens should begin their vaccinations at 9 weeks of age with their second vaccine given 3 – 4 weeks later.
• Booster vaccinations are required annually to maintain your cat’s immunity against these highly contagious diseases
• At each vaccination your cat will receive a full health check up – this is important as early detection of diseases/conditions can prevent further progression or suffering in the long term, particularly as the cat ages.
• It is now common to recommend a third vaccination at 16 – 20 weeks to ensure the kitten is properly protected. A first booster vaccination should be given 12 months later to ensure a good level of continuing protection.
• However, after that the frequency of booster vaccinations may be every 1 – 3 years depending on the vaccine, disease and risk of the individual cat.
• Cats that stay at a boarding cattery will generally require an annual vaccination (or booster vaccine before going to the cattery as this is a higher risk situation).

Worms in Cats

Cats commonly harbour both roundworms and tapeworms. Most infected cats do not show signs of having worms; however heavy burdens of worms can cause weight loss, vomiting and diarrhoea, and failure to thrive.

It is also important to be aware some worms can be passed to humans (children in particular are at risk) and on rare occasions can cause serious disease in people. For these reasons, regular treatment of cats to prevent or eliminate worms is very important.

Worming your pet:

• Roundworms are extremely common in kittens, and as they can be infected from the mother’s milk it should be assumed they are all infected and you should start worming at an early age.
– Treat kittens every 2 weeks from 3-4 weeks of age until 8 weeks and then monthly until 6 months
– Treat cats older than 6 months regularly depending on their lifestyle – see our guide below.

• Tapeworm can be transmitted to your pet through hunting and ingestion of rodents or through fleas (fleas carry tapeworm). Therefore if your cat hunts or if your cat has fleas then it is very likely they also have a tapeworm infection. It is therefore vital to worm your pet as well as using a flea treatment.

Types of wormers:

There are many different worming products available and while worming products are available in the pet shop and supermarket these are often old or less effective products, some of which can be less safe particularly in cats.

Wormers can come in tablet or spot-on formulation (some of which are combined with a flea treatment) – not all of these products are effective against tapeworm.

See below for several options available for parasite prevention in your cat available in our clinic


1. Milbemax/Milpro: Tablet is a complete wormer – covers all types of intestinal worms
2. Stronghold: Spot-on treatment which covers fleas, ear mites, lice, roundworms and hookworms. (NOT tapeworm)
3. Advocate: Spot-on treatment which covers fleas, ear mites, roundworms and hookworms and lungworm
4. Advantage: Spot-on treatment which covers fleas only
5. Frontline: (a) Spot on treatment which covers fleas and ticks
(b) Spray (most cost effective but can be difficult to apply!)
6. Broadline: Spot-on treatment which covers fleas and ticks, and is a complete wormer
7. Panacur: Powder or liquid form which covers roundworm, hookworm and some types of tapeworm. This is the only wormer which treats lungworm.
8. Bravecto: Spot-on treatment which covers fleas and ticks and lasts 3 months

*These are the products we keep and recommend in our clinic


The answer depends on your cat’s lifestyle:

• Worm every 6 months
• Apply flea treatment if going into cattery
• Can use oral tablet (milpro/milbemax) or if you can’t give a tablet we recommend Broadline which contains a complete wormer

2. INDOOR/OUTDOOR CATS (May hunt occasionally)
Milbemax• Worm every 3 months
• Flea treatment monthly especially in Spring and Summer (N.B. If cat picks up 1 or 2 fleas at the start of colder months they will happily live and multiply in a centrally heated home!!)
• Can use oral tablet (milpro/milbemax) every 3 months and a spot-on flea treatment (advantage/frontline) monthly or Bravecto spot-on every 3 months
• Can use Broadline spot-on every 3 months with just a flea treatment (advantage/frontline) monthly in between

3. OUTDOOR CATS (Avid hunters)
• Worm every 1-2 months, consider worming monthly in Spring and Summer when hunting more
• Flea treatment monthly especially in Spring and Summer
• Can use oral tablet to worm (milpro/milbemax) and separate flea treatment (frontline/advantage) monthly
• Can use Broadline spot-on treatment monthly

Fleas in Cats

THE FLEA LIFE CYCLEThe most common flea found on cats and dogs is the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis). While many animals can live with fleas with minimal signs of itch or discomfort, control of fleas is advisable for many reasons:

– Fleas can carry the larval stage of the tapeworm which can infect your pet if they ingest the flea during grooming
– Adult fleas feed on blood – in young cats this can lead to weakness, anaemia and even death
– Some cats develop an allergy to flea bites which causes them to develop skin diseases
– Fleas can cause itchy bites to humans, usually around their ankles
– Fleas can transmit infections between animals

How to tell if your pet has fleas:

The best way to check if your pet has fleas is to comb their coat out with a fine tooth ‘flea comb’ over a clean white surface so that any fleas or ‘flea dirt’ (flea faeces is digested blood) will fall onto the surface.

Flea dirt on wet cotton wool

Flea dirt on wet cotton wool

Place any debris onto damp cotton wool – if there is flea dirt present they will dissolve slowly giving red-brown ‘halos’ around the debris. If you find these it means your pet has fleas even if you can’t find an adult flea.

Tackling Fleas:

Regular treatment of all pets with an insecticide to kill adult fleas will prevent a flea infestation. This usually involves a spot-on treatment applied monthly/bimonthly or there is a spot—on treatment available for cats called Bravecto which will last 3 months – please contact us at the clinic for more information.

If you have a flea infestation:

a flea1. Treat ALL pets with an effective treatment to kill adult fleas
2. Regular vacuum cleaning of all carpets and furnishings will reduce, but not eliminate, flea numbers
3. Wash all bedding above 60 degrees or dispose of it
4. Use an environmental spray containing an insect growth regulator to kill eggs and larvae that are developing in the house. Pupae are extremely difficult to kill and will continue to hatch out for several weeks until their population is depleted (It is therefore normal to see fleas on your pet after treatment as new adult fleas continue to hatch out from pupae in the environment – these new fleas will be killed within 24 hours of contact with your treated pet.
5. Allow treated pets access to all infested areas (areas which they were previously allowed). This will encourage the pupae to hatch out and the new adult fleas will be killed by your pet.

In some situations it may take several weeks and even months to fully control a flea problem. Please contact us at the clinic for more information and advice.

See below for more information on the treatment options available for parasite prevention in your cat


1. Milbemax/Milpro: Tablet is a complete wormer – covers all types of intestinal worms
2. Stronghold: Spot-on treatment which covers fleas, ear mites, lice, roundworms and hookworms. (NOT tapeworm)
3. Advocate: Spot-on treatment which covers fleas, ear mites, roundworms and hookworms and lungworm
4. Advantage: Spot-on treatment which covers fleas only
5. Frontline: (a) Spot on treatment which covers fleas and ticks
(b) Spray (most cost effective but can be difficult to apply!)
6. Broadline: Spot-on treatment which covers fleas and ticks, and is a complete wormer
7. Panacur: Powder or liquid form which covers roundworm, hookworm and some types of tapeworm. This is the only wormer which treats lungworm.
8. Bravecto: Spot-on treatment which covers fleas and ticks and lasts 3 months

*These are the products we keep and recommend in our clinic


The answer depends on your cat’s lifestyle:

• Worm every 6 months
• Apply flea treatment if going into cattery
• Can use oral tablet (milpro/milbemax) or if you can’t give a tablet we recommend Broadline which contains a complete wormer

2. INDOOR/OUTDOOR CATS (May hunt occasionally)
Milbemax• Worm every 3 months
• Flea treatment monthly especially in Spring and Summer (N.B. If cat picks up 1 or 2 fleas at the start of colder months they will happily live and multiply in a centrally heated home!!)
• Can use oral tablet (milpro/milbemax) every 3 months and a spot-on flea treatment (advantage/frontline) monthly or Bravecto spot-on every 3 months
• Can use Broadline spot-on every 3 months with just a flea treatment (advantage/frontline) monthly in between

3. OUTDOOR CATS (Avid hunters)
• Worm every 1-2 months, consider worming monthly in Spring and Summer when hunting more
• Flea treatment monthly especially in Spring and Summer
• Can use oral tablet to worm (milpro/milbemax) and separate flea treatment (frontline/advantage) monthly
• Can use Broadline spot-on treatment monthly

From 5 – 8 months of age kittens reach sexual maturity and can breed and produce kittens themselves – therefore neutering at a young age is essential both to prevent unwanted pregnancies and for the health of your pet.


cat spayNeutering a female animal is referred to as spaying. Spaying or ovariohysterectomy involves removal of the womb and ovaries to prevent ‘heats’ and unwanted pregnancies

• Population control – It is important to neuter a female cat before she can have kittens herself. This happens very quickly depending on breed, time of year born and individual development. The first season usually occurs around six months but can be earlier. Queens can have up to three litters in a year.

• Control of nuisance – Female cats will ‘call’ (come into season and be receptive to the male cat) about every three weeks during sexually active times of the year until they get pregnant. Having entire female cats in an area will attract entire males with the accompanying problems of spraying and fighting.

• Welfare issues – There are thousands of unwanted kittens born in Ireland every year – many of these may not be cared for and are likely to suffer from various infectious diseases such as catflu or worse.

• Health issues – Female cats which are not neutered are more likely to suffer from pyometra (infection of the womb) later in life and with mammary tumours.

– Queens with infectious diseases may pass these on to their kittens. – Pregnancy and birth are also not without risk.

When do I spay?

We advise spaying all female cats at 4-6 months of age. Cats can be spayed during or shortly after their season.

Did you know?

Female cats ovulate in response to mating with a male cat so WILL become pregnant at any time during their season if they come in contact with a male.


Castration involves removal of the testes – this is a straight forward procedure in the cat with no stitches even needed!

cat• Control of nuisance. Unneutered male cats are likely to stray over a large area, will mark their territory with a very pungent spray and are much more likely to fight – which can be very noisy!

• Health issues. Unneutered male cats are at risk of getting and spreading infectious diseases such as FIV and FeLV from/to other cats via mating and fighting. They are also likely to suffer from fighting injuries such as abscesses and because they wander over a large area they are also at greater risk of suffering road traffic accidents.

• Pet issues. Unneutered male cats will wander from home and may not return. They may also spray inside the home and may be aggressive to their owners. Therefore it is desirable to neuter kittens early enough to ensure that the above problems are prevented.

• Population control. Obviously male cats do not have kittens themselves and it only takes one male in an area to make lots of female cats pregnant, so neutering a female cat makes a great deal more difference to limiting numbers, but it all helps!

When do we castrate?

We recommend castrating male cats at any age over 5-6 months – the earlier you neuter the less likely you will get behaviours such as spraying/fighting/roaming and you also lower the risk of him contracting illnesses such as FIV.


A microchip is a tiny computer chip about the size of a grain of rice which contains a unique microchip number.

identichipThis number can be read by a scanner. The microchip is injected through a sterile needle under the pet’s skin between the shoulder blades.

No anaesthetic is needed – the procedure should cause no more discomfort than a standard injection and we routinely microchip puppies and kittens with their initial vaccination course.

How does it work?

The microchip contains a unique 15 digit number – this can be read by a microchip scanner. The vet can then check the database for the unique number and get the owner’s contact details.

Who has a scanner?

All veterinary clinics and most local authorities and animal welfare/rescue centres have a scanner. If a stray cat is found and they have a microchip they can be returned to the owner easily

Why microchip?

1. Microchipping is a successful way of reuniting owners with lost or stolen pets.

Microchipping is far more effective and permanent than identification methods such as collars which can fade or fall off – cat collars are designed to have a safey release in case your cat gets caught by the collar – therefore outdoor cats can lose collars readily.

2. Another good reason to microchip cats in particular is their increased risk of being involved in accidents – as they are often free to move around wherever they want they are at a higher risk of getting involved in road traffic accidents. In this case identifying the cat and their owner as quickly as possible can save their life!

3. If you have unwanted visitors coming in through your cat flap, there are cat flaps available which will read your pet’s chip and only allow them inside.

How to avoid catches on Pet Insurance

Nobody likes to think of their pet being unwell or getting injured, but as with humans, accidents can happen and pets can get sick.

It’s a worrying fact that in an average year, one pet in three will require veterinary treatment for some form of illness or accident. Therefore, when something goes wrong it is nice to know that you can concentrate on caring for your pet without worrying about the cost of treatment.

kittenWhen buying your pet insurance, take the time to choose the right policy because if you buy the wrong policy it can be very difficult to change to a better product later on. Here’s how to choose the right policy:

1. Buy insurance while your pet is young and in good health – if you wait until your pet is older or has developed any health problems you may struggle to get cover and/or end up paying more. Also, many insurers won’t accept pets over seven years old.

2. Get a policy that pays out throughout your pet’s lifetime – Some policies will exclude conditions after one year from first diagnosis – this is not very helpful if your pet has any chronic illness such as diabetes, arthritis, heart disease or skin infections.

There are 3 types of insurance policies:
– Lifetime cover is the most expensive option but offers the best benefits. Your pet is covered for its entire lifetime for any illness or injury, up to a maximum amount each year.

– Maximum benefit also allows you to claim for ongoing illnesses year after year but there is a preset limit to the total amount that will be covered for each condition.

– Twelve month policies will only allow you to claim for any one condition for twelve months after the condition is first noticed.

Other things to be aware of when choosing an insurance policy:
– ‘Normal’ fees aren’t included – Insurance won’t cover routine things such as vaccinations, microchipping, neutering and pregnancy.

– Vaccinations must be kept up to date – While insurance doesn’t cover your pet’s vaccinations, you’ll need to keep these up to date. If you don’t, and your pet gets an illness it should have been vaccinated against, you won’t be covered.

– Consider third party liability – this only applies for dogs but it is important to realise you are liable for any accidents or injuries they cause.

A Cat Friendly Home

Making your home cat friendly is particularly important for indoor cats or cats which have restricted outdoor access.

Living indoors almost automatically deprives a cat of the ability to behave naturally and experience the normal challenges that occur outdoors.

kitten and flowers on windowsillThey can easily become bored and frustrated filling the void of activity with sleeping, grooming and eating. This sedentary lifestyle leads to health problems such as urinary tract disease, over-grooming and eating disorders.

The provision of sufficient ‘resources’ is vital to keeping your cat/cats happy. Resources are things which your cat considers important – this can be things which provide nourishment, entertainment, stimulation and security for your cat.

– The type of food bowl can be important – ceramic and glass bowls being preferred over plastic bowls which can scratch easily and give off a smell which cats may not like.

Metal bowls are another option but if your cat wears a collar the clinking of the metal may put your cat off eating from that bowl.

– In order to mimic the cat’s natural feeding habit of eating little and often owners should divide their cat’s ration into a minimum of five portions.

– Placing food in different locations enables cats to engage their senses in searching for food

– Puzzle feeders can be used for night time feeding or when you are not going to be in the house.
Examples of simple homemade puzzle feeders include:

1. Toilet Roll Pyramid – Stick 10 rolls of toilet roll together with tape and place dry food in the toilet rolls
2. Bottle Puzzle Feeder – Place some holes in a bottle and place some dry food inside

• Water
cat drinkingMost owners provide water beside the food bowl. However cats naturally hunt for food and water separately and the presence of water near the food can actually deter some cats from drinking sufficent amounts of water especially if they are on a dry diet.

It is therefore important to provide water elsewhere and generally there should be one water container per cat in the household plus one extra in various locations.

Cats like a bowl large enough to drink without touching its whiskers off the sides and full to the brim so they can lap without putting their heads down

• High resting places
Cats are natural climbers and it is important for your cat to be able to rest and observe its surroundings from high places. Staircases naturally provide this but in a single storey house shelves, cupboards or other platforms should be provided to satisfy this instinct.

• Beds
Cats favour warm places to sleep and many prefer them to have a strong familiar scent of their owners to give a sense of safety and security.

Not all cats need the reassurance of their owner’s smell when they are resting so they may have several sleeping locations that rotate according to the position of the sun.

If you want to buy your cat a bed then how you position it may be the key to its appeal. Place it in a raised position (many cats feel a little vulnerable sleeping on the floor) near a source of heat or an area in sunlight.

Your bed is potentially the ultimate delight for your cat – with the warmth of a duvet and a strong smell of you!

cat on windowsillThis provides a tremendous sense of security and enables your cat to sleep deeply in the knowledge that it is safe. If your bedroom does become an important resource however it can also be a place of conflict if you have a multi-cat household as individuals compete for the best spot.

Providing heated pads or raised cat beds in other bedrooms or even allocating space in your own room for such additions may go some way to finding a sensible compromise.

• Litter trays
Litter trays are a necessary evil, absolutely essential if your cat is kept indoors or has limited access outdoors and highly recommended even if your cat is free to roam.

Location: It should be located in a discreet corner, away from food and water, full-length windows and busy routes. Cats may see external doors and cat flaps as potentially dangerous places so locating them as far away as possible from these stressful areas would be ideal for your cat.

Number: One tray per cat in your household, plus one extra ideally should be placed in different discreet locations away from food. This doesn’t mean that each cat will automatically choose their own tray but it will give a general sense that there is plenty of choice.

• Scratch posts
Cats need to scratch to maintain their claws and mark their territory. If provisions are not made for this then cats will scratch items of furniture.

cat scratching on a logScratch posts are most attractive if you place it near a window or radiator in a room your cat particularly likes to spend time.

Cats like to stretch and scratch when they first wake up so it’s always beneficial to have an acceptable scratching area near your cat’s bed.

Do not encourage your cat to scratch by grasping its paws and showing it what to do or pay particular attention to the scratching post when it first arrives as this may well discourage your cat from going anywhere near it!

If your cat doesn’t show any interest in the post then try sprinkling a little dry catnip plant over the base, or play a game with your cat with a fishing rod toy round the post or panel to encourage a connection between claws and the scratching surface; this often promotes scratching.

• Social contact
Many cats enjoy the company of other cats, under the right circumstances. However, problems can develop if there is competition for limited resources within a small area.

cat and dog on owner's lapThese problems can be minimised by providing plenty of resources in the home and keeping an appropriate number of cats for the size of the house. See section below on multi cat households and how to minimise problems

Social contact with humans is important but how much depends on the personality of your cat.

It is best to allow your cat to dictate the level of interaction and allow them to initiate most of the contact. Owners that are constantly approaching their cats for petting can cause irritation or, occasionally, distress.

Predatory play, grooming and verbal communication represents important social contact between owner and cat and is often better received than ‘kissing and cuddling’.

Some cats enjoy the company of dogs also so company can come in different forms!

Playing with your cat

Every cat is an individual but most prefer toys and games that are as close to the natural hunting experience as possible.

kittens playing with a toyToys that move randomly are great; those that are motionless and left lying around soon become predictable and boring.

Toys made from fur material or feathers that are of a similar size to prey animals are popular, as are those impregnated with catnip – a herb that cats can find particularly attractive.

The majority of cats respond to the smell of catnip (dried catmint Nepeta cataria) which can produce a temporary euphoric state.

If it is used sparingly it is a fun distraction.

Catnip toys can easily be made at home and used to good advantage for ten minutes a day or every other day, for example.

Bags of dry catnip tend to be more potent than catnip sprays or treats.

Multi-cat households can work well under the right circumstances. Important factors that influence success include:

  1. Compatibility of the cats within the group
  1. Availability and accessibility of resources


kittensSiblings that have been brought up together often represent the best pairings, particularly if there was evidence of sociability with each other as kittens and their temperaments remain complementary, for example, probably not one very confident kitten with one very shy one.

If the multi-cat household is established with a number of cats within it then it is possible that they do not form one single cohesive group.

Once cats mature they can form sub-groups – pairs, factions of three or more and singletons. These individual groups then cohabit within the territory making every effort to avoid other groups and remain at a distance.

If these social groupings can be identified then, in theory, an optimum environment can be provided that distributes cat resources within the home to take into consideration the need of each individual group not to share with another.

Identifying social groups

This can be achieved by observation: which cats spend time together, grooming each other, sleeping in close proximity or touching, playing together and greeting each other nose to nose?

Conversely, which cats show active aggression towards each other, which cats leave the room when another enters and which cat stares at others?

The easiest way to do this is to write the names of the cats in the household and show colour-coded arrows from one cat’s name to the other in the direction that accurately describes the behaviour observed, eg, cat A grooms cat B therefore an arrow indicating social, friendly behaviour points from A towards B on the diagram.

Once all the interaction observed has been shown on the diagram then it should be possible to establish which cats group together and which work alone.


Availability/accessibility of resources

Cats don’t share important resources with other social groups. These resources include everything a cat may need to survive and thrive, ie, food bowls, water bowls, litter trays, beds, high resting places, private areas, scratching posts, entry/exit points and toys.

If these resources are provided in sufficient numbers and distributed so that the locations chosen are accessible for each cat or social group’s core area (where they spend most of their time) then tension and conflict can often be avoided.

Various suggestions have been made regarding appropriate numbers but a commonly used resource formula is: one resource per cat, plus one extra, positioned in different locations. For example, in a four cat household the owner would be recommended to provide five of everything.

Feeding areas

Cats are solitary hunters and feeders yet they will suppress behaviour in order to obtain vital nutrition and adapt their eating patterns to avoid hostility, eg, eating large amounts at a time or making frequent visits to avoid eating with others. Therefore a strategy to minimise conflict may be:

– Measured amounts of dry food left throughout the day so that cats can choose when to eat

– Measured more frequent mealtimes if wet food is given

– Bowls positioned to allow the cat to face any direction when eating to observe any approaching adversary

Water bowls:

Cats prefer to drink away from feeding areas and may avoid drinking altogether if challenged by another cat.
Therefore a strategy to minimise conflict may be:

– Locate water bowls in different areas away from food.

– Provide large ceramic, glass or stainless steel bowls, filled to the brim so that the cat can remain
vigilant while drinking.

– Position the bowl to allow the cat to face any direction when drinking to scan for any adversary.

Litter trays:
kitten on litter trayCats will eliminate when and where they feel safe, away from feeding and hunting areas. Some cats prefer to eliminate outside but many, given the choice, would use indoor facilities.

To exhibit silent, passive aggression cats may block or guard access to litter trays to prevent others using this limited and essential resource.

If cats do not feel safe eliminating then it can lead to stress-related problems such as urinary retention, constipation, bladder or bowel disease or inappropriate urination or defecation in quiet corners, for example.

Therefore a strategy to avoid conflict may be:

– Position litter trays away from full length windows, cat flaps, noisy appliances, external doors, thoroughfares and busy areas.

– Covered trays may make a cat feel vulnerable or trapped.

– Open trays allow the cat to have a full view of its surroundings.

– If in doubt, provide choice of facilities and litter substrate and keep a record of their use.

– The litter substrate that seems to appeal to the majority of cats are the fine, sand-like clumping products that are easily cleaned.

High resting places:

High perches are used as part of avoidance strategy and cats will gravitate towards high places when threatened. They can then observe without risk of attack.

Therefore a strategy to avoid conflict may be:

  1. cat on windowsillProviding high perches throughout the house, for example:

– Tall modular scratching centres

– Wardrobes

– Cupboards

– Shelving/bookcases

  1. Two access points to each perch, if appropriate, to avoid the risk of being trapped by another cat

These are places where a cat observes without drawing attention to itself so owners are best advised to not acknowledge the cat when it’s there

Private areas:

Cats need ‘time out’ from each other and from humans too. This is usually a dark, warm place that they perceive as safe. Therefore a strategy to avoid conflict may be:

  • Provide soft bedding, for example:

– Under beds

– Remove a divan drawer, if appropriate

– Inside wardrobes

– Cardboard boxes

– Cat carriers or covered beds

  • Do not disturb or interfere
  • Minimal cleaning disruption


Cats need somewhere safe to rest, free from danger and interference, preferably off the ground, warm and free from draughts.

The master bed is ideal as it has a strong scent of the owner and the security that this person represents. Cats may block or ‘defend’ beds or ‘steal’ them from other cats to demonstrate their ability to control resources.

Cats also use sleep or feigned sleep as a coping strategy at times of conflict so safe beds are important. Therefore a strategy to avoid conflict may be:

– Consider access to master bedroom; is this an area of conflict?

– Provide soft, warm, raised beds

– Provide beds with a source of heat, eg, heated pads to encourage use in separate locations

– Scent of owner (clothing, towels) if preferred

Scratching posts:

Scratching posts provide a visual and olfactory mark, as a means of territorial communication. They are also necessary for claw maintenance and exercise.

Excessive scratching in a particularly significant conflict zone can be found and may also be used as an alternative marking strategy to urine spraying. Therefore a strategy to avoid conflict may be:

– Provide vertical and horizontal surfaces

– Tall enough posts or panels for full stretch

– Vertical striations on the scratching surface

– Rigid structures so they resist the scratching and don’t move

– Emphasis on locations near thoroughfares, beds, entrances to core areas

Entry/exit points:

Cats may guard, block or intimidate other cats at an entry and exit point as this may be the only possible access to the only available latrine site. Therefore a strategy to avoid conflict may be:

  • Provide 2 entry/exit points on different aspects of the house:

– Windows

– Access from upper floor to flat roof

– Front/back doors, side entrances

  • Provide indoor litter facilities in some cases


playing kittensPlay is considered a leisure activity by cats and insecure individuals will not play in front of a more confident cat. It is however an important and positive behaviour but in multi-cat households play, particularly play fighting, can escalate into something more antagonistic.

Therefore a strategy to avoid conflict may be:

  • Follow the resource formula (if toys provided for object play)
  • Play separately without another cat present
  • Inter-cat play:

– Provide high perches to avoid play fighting from escalating

– Provide objects for cats to play around

Owners are important too!

Cats will withdraw from owners if other cats are more assertive and contact can be location and time specific.

To avoid conflict, allow the cats to dictate quality and quantity of interaction and avoid the desire to be equitable by ‘sharing’ affection.

Cats are most comfortable with the familiar, so being confined in a cage, trying to keep their
balance as it swings, then travelling in a noisy, strange smelling vehicle can all be scary.

Cats need time to adjust to new surroundings and experiences. Attempting to shovel them into the new cat carrier moments before you’re due to leave for the appointment may not end well.

Stay calm and take your time. If you try to grip or force your cat, they are likely to panic and then you may both need the doctor!

Cats can sense our anxiety or frustrations, which may cause them to become fearful or anxious.

Help your cat become comfortable with the carrier


cat on a basket at Cottage VetsThe goal is for your cat to learn to associate the carrier with positive experiences and routinely enter voluntarily.

Don’t leave the carrier in the garage to gather dust, make the carrier a familiar place at home by leaving it in a room where your cat spends a lot of time. Throw a blanket over it so it’s less of an
eyesore and your cat may then lie on or in it.

Have it off the ground if possible as cats usually feel more secure if they are up high so are more likely to use it. Place familiar soft bedding inside the carrier as well as treats or toys.

It may take days or weeks before your cat starts to trust the carrier. You may have to start by using the bottom half of the carrier only.

Be patient, and reward desired behaviours.


What type of carriers are best?


cat carrierThe best carriers are inexpensive hard sided carriers that open from the top and the front, and can also be taken apart in the middle. An easily removable top allows a cat which is fearful to stay in the bottom half of the carrier for exams.

It’s often also easier to place the cat in the bottom half of the carrier at home and then put the top on, avoid carriers that require a cat to be pulled from or dumped out for an exam.

Choose carriers that are sturdy, secure, and stable for the cat, as well as easy for you to carry. Carriers should be seat- belted into the car to keep your cat safe.



When you bring your cat to the clinic resist the temptation to replace the bedding with a freshly laundered blanket. It won’t smell as familiar or safe as an unwashed bed or blanket that your cat has been sleeping on for a while or even an item of your own clothing (again unwashed).

At the clinic

If the waiting room is very busy and/or noisy, it may be wise to leave your cat in the car initially. Let
the receptionist know you have arrived and we will arrange for a quiet place for you to wait.

Try not to swing the cage and don’t place the cage on the floor. Your cat will feel safer up high. You
are welcome to put the cage up on the reception desk or on the benches beside you.
Don’t allow dogs to approach.


Coming Home – Keeping the Peace in a Multi-cat Household

Cats are very sensitive to smells, and unfamiliar smells can result in one cat no longer recognising another.

Leave the returning cat in the carrier for a few minutes to see how all of your cats react. If you
sense tension between the cats, or if previous home-comings have resulted in conflict, keep the
cat in the carrier and take it to a separate room to avoid potential injury from an upset cat.

Provide food, water, and litter box for a minimum of 24 hours while it regains the more familiar smell of
home. A synthetic feline pheromone (Feliway®) can help provide the sense of familiarity.

Bringing your cat in for a general anaesthetic / surgical procedure

• Fasting: We will usually ask you not to give your cat any food after midnight, the night before the procedure. It’s often useful to allow them a late night snack that night so they are not starved for an unnecessarily long time.

In very young patients, it is better if they are not without food for more than 6 hours before the anaesthetic so we will give instructions depending on the planned timing of the procedure.

• Drinking: Allow free access to water (but no other fluids) at all times.

• When you come in: Please bring cats in a secure cage**. Cats may be transferred to a quiet room or admitted directly to the hospital to minimise stress.

cat spayIn the waiting room cages should be placed on the benches or counter, not on the floor so that your pet feels safer. We will weigh your pet and we will ask you to fill in a consent form for the procedure.

This will include some important questions about your pet’s health and will take a few minutes to read and complete. Ensure we have a contact phone number for the day.

Please allow at least ten to fifteen minutes for hospital admission. Most procedures will be ‘day surgeries’ so we will usually be able to discharge your pet between 4 and 6 o’ clock the same day.

Consider leaving an (unwashed) item of your clothing with your pet so they have the comfort of your scent while they are in hospital.

**Please read the advice page on bringing cats to the clinic