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CAT HEALTH THE FACTS

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Here are some cat health facts you can e-mail me on any  of the topics listed on this page

 
The majority of cats in the uk are allowed access to the open air and are likely to come into contact with parasites. Even in door cats and those kept in breeding colonies are not safe from infection with parasites.
It must not be assumed that a cat which shows no signs of infection is not harbouring parasites. In many cases, infections only become apparent when the burden of the infection is too great for the `host "to sustain comfortably. This is no cause for alarm as modern parasitic treatments are very effective. However, some are potentially toxic to cats so IT IS ESSENTIAL TO FOLLOW CAREFULLY THE INSTRUCTIONS ON THE LABEL OF ANY PRODUCT.
Particular attention should be addressed to avoiding the use of more than one product at the same time on the cat because this may facilitate adverse/toxic reactions. Some products are potentially toxic to other animals (especially fish) and all products applied to the cat should be allowed to dry before handling the cat.

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LICE
Infestation is uncommon and may be associated with debility or neglect, such as may follow a period of abandonment. Unlike fleas, lice are very host-specific. Lice found on cats will not breed on humans (or dogs). They are past to other cats by direct contact.
Lice are far less common than fleas and when they do occur, the louse itself is readily seen. The translucent eggs are firmly cemented to the cat `s hair and it is these which will generally be noticed first.
They can be distinguished from dandruff by the fact that they cannot be removed from the hair or, if a magnifying glass is used, by their distinct oval shape
(dandruff scales very in shape). Though a magnifying glass, the louse appears as a light grey, slow moving speck. Cats with lice may be pruritic and have broken hairs, hair loss, or papulocrusting dermatitis (miliary dermatitis)

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MITES
Mites are minute, round or oval parasites with eight legs; they are just visible to the naked eye but more easily seen with a magnifying glass.
They can cause a range of skin conditions and are generally highly contagious, being passed from cat to cat by direct contact or via infected bedding or grooming utensils.
 
EARMITES
The commonest mite to be found on a cat id the ear mite(Otodectes cynotis), a tiny mite which lives deep down inside the ear. It causes intense irrition to the skin of the ear canal, causing it to secrete excessive quantities of dark brown or black wax. cat suffering from this condition may appear unconcerned if the number of mites is few, or they may constantly shake their heads and scratch at the affected area. The brown wax is easily seen on inspection of the inside of the ear. If the cat is scratching its ears and no dark brown wax is obvious, then the cause is probably not mites and the cat should be examined by a veterinary surgeon.

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INTERNAL PARASITES
Internal parasites of the cat are common. The two groups most commonly found are cestodes(tapeworms) and ascarids (roundworms). There is no immunity to such worms in cats therefore re-infection is possible.
TAPEWORMS
Tapeworms are flat('tape-like') worms which are common in the bowel of most mammals; the cat included.
They consist of a scolex (or head) which attaches itself to the wall of the gut by either suckers or hooks, and a series of segments containing eggs. These segments break off and are passed out of the lower end of the bowel with the faeces. In the
external environment they disintegrate, releasing the eggs.
Eggs are not directly infectious to other cats since they must pass through an intermediate host in order to complete their development. This host varies for different tapeworms.
They live by absorbing pre-digested food in the bowel of the cat but they are not directly harmful. It is a fallacy that tapeworms make otherwise healthy, well-fed cats unable to thrive but, in very heavy infeststions,(for example, in feral cats) they can cause obstruction of the gut.
life cycle of dipylidium caninum is by far the commonest tapeworm in cats and dogs in the uk. It consists of scolex which attaches itself to the cat`s intestine by hooks and a large number of segments. Mmature segments contain packets of eggs and these break off the end of the tapeworm and are passed in the faeces. When just passed the segments are mobile and wriggle around disconcertingly.
However, they soon dry up and are recognised by their semi-lucent, rice grain` appearance in the faeces or clinging to the cat`s fur at its rear end. For the tapeworm eggs to develop, they must be eaten by flea or lice laravae, otherwise they will eventually die. Once inside the flea or louse larva, the tapeworm forms a cystic stage which persists when it becomes an adult flea or louse. If the infected flea or louse is eaten by the cat during grooming, the scolex emerges from the cyst, attaches itself to the intestinal wall and begins to form segments; a new tapeworm is formed. In three weeks, it has matured and egg-filled segments are being shed.
life cycle of taenia taeniaeformis
This tapeworm has more opaque and rectangular segments than dipylidium caninum. For the life cycle to be completed, the eggs must be eaten by rodents, especially mice and rats, which act as intermediate host. This occurs when the cat defecates in the soil, passing mature segments of tapeworm in the faeces, in an area frequented by rodents. The tapeworm eggs hatch in the rodents stomach and migrate to its liver, where they form pea size cysts. The cat is infected if it eats the rodent`s liver. It follows that only cats which hunt and eat their pray will be infected with this tapeworm. This is why it is so much less common in domestic cats than dipylidium caninum.... 

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ROUNDWORMS
The fully-grown adult roundworm is similar in appearance to the common earthworm, though white and built on a smaller scale. The commonest roundworm found in the cat is toxocara cati which in a study in london, was show to infect on average 28 per cent of cats,though in ferals and kittens under six months, the figure was almost 50 per cent. Another roundworm, toxacaris leonina, is much less common, infecting up to 5-5 per cent of cats.
These worms grow up to 10cms in length and 5 mm in width, but young ones will be much smaller than thid.
life cycle
Adult worms live in the cat`s intestine and feed on digested food. Their eggs are passed in the faeces (the entire worm is not normally passed.) The eggs are not infectious to other cats when first passed but become infectious when they have developed into a larval stage after a few days. They may remain infectious for years.
In free living cats, the faeces-and therefore the roundworm eggs-are deposited in the soil. Indoor cats. they end up wherever the litter tray is emptied. provided the litter tray is emptied and cleaned daily, there is no risk of infection to humans and other cats from fresh faeces. (humans` may occasionally catch 'larval migrans' from toxocara cati, although this is usually caused by dog roundworm, toxocara canis).
The eggs have a sticky surface and may stick to a cat`s paw while walking or digging in the soil. They hatch in the stomach and the resultant larvae migrate through the liver and lungs to the trachea where they are coughed up and swallowed. When they reach the gut again, they undergo a final moult and the adult worm begins to lay eggs.
An alternative method of transmission of toxocara cati is that the eggs are swallowed by a rodent, bird or mollusc. In these abnormal hosts, they form cysts with in the tissues, commonly the liver. If the pray animal is eaten by the cat, the cysts are digested and the larvae emerge. The larvae emerging from the paratenic host (rodent/mollusc/bird) or consumed in the queens milk undergo limited migration in the gut before completing the life cycle in the gut. A final method of infection is that the kittens may receive eggs along with queens milk. This has implications for the age at which a worming should be started ie.as early as possible..

EXTERNAL PARASITES fleas
 

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By far the most common skin parasite of the cat in the ukis the flea.
Fleas are not fussy about which species of animal they live on-cats, dogs, hedgehogs or even humans-its all the same to them.
                           life cycle
most of the fleas life cycle takes place away from the host. Tiny white eggs, about 1mm long are laid in suitable spots such as bedding, those that are laid on the cat soon fall off as they are not sticky. The eggs hatch in two to 16 days and larvae emerge which look like strands of cotton up to 5mm long.After a further seven to ten day, they change into cream-coloured, immobile pupae and may remain in this state in unfavourable conditions such as cold or extreme dryness for up to six months, However, under more favourable conditions such as hot humid summers, the young flea emerges with in 10 to 17 days. It remains inactive until a warm-blooded creature passes nearby; it can spring up to one metre, bite the skin and suck the animals blood.
The whole life cycle may be completed in three weeks under warm, moist conditions which would explain the epidemics of fleas which arise in the summer.

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TICKS
It is uncommon for cats to be infected with ticks; the culprits are usually ixodes ricinus (the castor bean tick) or i.hexagonus (the hedgehog tick).
Cats are generally seem unperturbed by ticks but, because ticks are capable of transmitting disease, they should be dealt with . Ticks have a complicated life cycle, most of which is spent on the ground in rough pasture. when a warm-blooded animal passes by the tick can jump aboard and climb up the legs, eventually attaching itself firmly to the body by its biting mouth parts.
The unfed larval tick is the size of a pinhead and has 8 legs. It remains on the host for about five days, gorging on the blood. By the end of this time it may behalf-inch in length and a greyish-blue or brownish-black colour.
 
 

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