Did you know that there is a special law protecting animals?
This law is called the Animal Welfare Act. The Animal Welfare Act says that your animal has five groups of welfare needs. These are five groups of things that animals need to be healthy and happy. These five welfare needs are called the Five Freedoms.
Under the Animal Welfare Act all animal guardians (owners) need to provide these five groups of things for their animals. One of these Five Freedoms is: Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease. In this section you will learn about this freedom and how you can make sure your cat or kitten receives the right medical care, so he or she is free from pain, suffering and disease.
Just like you have a family doctor that you see when you are unwell, your cat needs their own doctor too – a veterinarian is an animal doctor.
It’s a good idea for your family to find out which veterinarian they plan on using before you get your cat or kitten. Ask your friends that are cat owners which veterinarians they recommend. If possible, visit the clinic beforehand and look around. Ask yourself: Is the waiting area clean? Are the staff helpful? You should also find out the opening hours and if they handle emergencies after hours.
Once you get a new cat or kitten, your family should register him or her with your chosen local veterinary clinic straight away. Make an appointment as soon as you can for a check-up. Your vet can then create a care programme for your cat or kitten. It is helpful to write a list of the questions you want to ask so everything can be covered.
One of the easiest ways to ensure your cat has freedom from pain, injury and disease is to make sure your cat gets vaccinated to ensure that they are protected against diseases.
Vaccinations protect animals against diseases that can cause pain and distress and that are often deadly.
Getting your cat vaccinated against preventable diseases is a vital part of responsible pet care. By vaccinating your cat, your family can have peace of mind knowing your cat is well protected.
A vaccination works by introducing small amounts of the bugs which cause the diseases to your cat’s immune system. This causes your cat’s immune system to create antibodies. This means that if your cat meets any of the diseases for real, his immune system will know how to deal with them, therefore protecting him.
Your cat should receive a ‘primary’ vaccination course early in life, followed by ‘booster’ vaccinations throughout their life.
Your veterinarian will tell your family the vaccinations that are needed for your cat and will remind you when your cat’s yearly booster injection is needed – another reason why your cat must be registered with a veterinarian.
People often think a trip to the vet as something only needed when your cat becomes unwell, however it is also important to remember that annual health checks are important for your cat’s wellbeing. These annual checks are a great way to detect any small problems before they become more serious.
During this 15 - 20 minute appointment, your veterinarian will carefully examine your cat’s entire body – from the tips of his ears, the pads on his paws, to the top of his tail! Your veterinarian will also discuss any concerns you have regarding your pet’s health, diet and behaviour.
All cats and kittens adopted from RSPCA will already have been spayed or neutered. There are already more cats than there are good homes for them, so please don't let your cat have kittens!
If your family or friends have a cat or kitten that is not spayed or neutered, encourage them to speak with their veterinarian and have their cats spayed or neutered as soon as possible. Explain that before they know it, they could have a litter of kittens that they’ll need to find homes for. Finding a loving, responsible home for each kitten isn’t always that easy! What’s more, if those kittens don’t get spayed or neutered, they will have kittens too – meaning more loving, responsible, forever homes will need to be found.
If your cat ever shows any signs of injury or ill health, an adult must take them to their veterinarian immediately. If it is late at night or on the weekend and your vet is closed, there are awesome after hour clinics available for emergencies. If you find a cat that shows signs of sickness or injury, get an adult to contact your local RSPCA immediately.
Remember to always find an adult before you approach any cat that appears sick or injured – even your own cat. Cats may respond differently because they are in pain.
Looking after our cats’ teeth is just as important as looking after our own!
Kittens have their first 26 “baby” teeth at 2 to 3 weeks of age. They start getting their 30 permanent “adult” teeth at around 5-6 months.
Even if the only thing your cat hunts is his food bowl and toys, he still needs clean, sharp teeth and healthy gums. Damage to the tongue, teeth, mouth and gums can lead to many health risks for cats. These issues can be prevented with regular vet check-ups and following the home dental care advice given to your family by your cat’s veterinarian.
At RSPCA, we recommend your family take out pet insurance to save thousands of dollars should something happen to your cat.
While most cat owners will have worked out vet costs, such as vaccinations and worming, it is the out-of-the-ordinary expenses that can catch you out. For example, you could spend thousands of dollars on treatment for a road accident. Taking out pet insurance helps you budget for the unexpected.