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How to Protect your Fur-Kids: Your Vaccination Questions Answered

| October 1, 2017

There’s a growing public concern about the risks of vaccinating in both humans and animals. This school of thought, however, isn’t based on fact, and has led to outbreaks of measles in humans and panleukopenia in cats, with their associated mortalities.

This is caused due to misinformation and a lack of vaccination – even though it’s been proven that many life-threatening diseases can be avoided by vaccinating your dogs and cats. With the benefits outweighing the risks, there truly is no excuse not to vaccinate.

Naturally, we turn to our trusted vets for advice. To err is human, and to disagree is human too. Many of our vets may not necessarily share the opinion of another down the road.

So, what do we do?

Fortunately, there is hope. The South African Veterinary Association (SAVA) and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) have put guidelines together in order for you to make an informed decision. They’re based on current scientific knowledge and were compiled by relevant experts. Using these guidelines, we’ve put together a Vaccination Q and A to answer your questions and help you do the best for your fur-babies.

Why do we need to vaccinate our dogs and cats?

Vaccinations build up an immunity against life-threatening, contagious diseases for an individual. By doing so, they prevent outbreaks in populations. By stimulating the animal’s immune system with a safer/inactivated form of a particular virus, the body develops a specialised “army” which would be the first line of defence if the animal’s system was ever challenged by that virus.

Puppies and kittens get antibodies from the bitch in the colostrum which protect them after birth. However, the number of these antibodies in the puppy’s/kitten’s system decreases gradually as they get older, and by the age of 16 weeks, they will all have disappeared.

The other complicating factor is that these antibodies may disappear before 16 weeks of age and there’s no way we can know exactly when this will happen in an individual animal. This is why the vaccination protocol for puppies and kittens has been developed – To protect them despite the antibody levels dropping at unknown and variable times before 16 weeks old.

What are the risks of vaccinating my pets?

With any vaccination, or even dosing of medication, there’s a risk of the animal having an adverse reaction. This may range from very mild lethargy/fever to severe reactions, including hives, facial swelling, anaphylaxis, auto-immune diseases and cancer at the injection sites. That being said, the risk of these occurring doesn’t outweigh the benefit of vaccinating.

According to the WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association), only 38-51 animals for every 10,000 has a reaction after being vaccinated, and most of these are mild reactions.

What are the risks of not vaccinating my pets?

Your pets could contract or even die from a deadly disease. It’s heart breaking to see someone’s beloved pet die from a disease which could easily have been vaccinated against. Even though some of the diseases aren’t very common, you still need to vaccinate your pets in order to keep it that way.

“Herd immunity” is a form of immunity where a certain % of the population must be vaccinated in order to maintain protection in a community. This means that at least 70% of a population of dogs/cats must be vaccinated in order for these vaccinated pets to form a “barrier” which will prevent an outbreak. Unfortunately, in South Africa, we have a problem with the majority of the dog and cat population being unvaccinated.


What vaccinations does my dog or cat really need?

Dogs need the following vaccinations to protect them from the diseases listed below:

  • 5-in-1: Canine Distemper, Canine Parvovirus infection, Infectious Canine Hepatitis (Adenovirus type 1), Canine Adenovirus type 2 (a common cause of Kennel Cough), Canine Parainfluenza (another cause of Kennel Cough)
    • Most vets use this 5-in-1 combination vaccination but some use a 6-in-1 which includes the 5 viruses above, as well as Canine Coronavirus
  • Rabies

Cats need the following vaccinations to protect them from the diseases listed below:

  • 3-in-1: Feline Panleukopenia, Feline Herpesvirus infection and Feline Calicivirus infection
  • Rabies

When should I vaccinate my dog or cat?


  • First 5-in-1 vaccination at 8–9 weeks
  • Second 5-in-1 vaccination at 11–12 weeks; includes the first RABIES vaccination
  • Re-vaccinate 5-in-1 at 14–16 weeks; includes the second RABIES vaccination
  • Re-vaccinate 5-in-1 at one year of age
  • Re-vaccinate 5-in-1 every 3 years, including RABIES


  • First 3-in-1 vaccination at 8 weeks of age
  • Re-vaccinate 3-in-1 at 12 weeks of age; includes RABIES vaccination
  • Re-vaccinate 3-in-1 at 16 weeks in environments with high infection pressure or in breeding catteries. If not applicable, only give the second RABIES vaccination. (Ask your vet what they recommend)
  • Re-vaccinate 3-in-1 at one year of age
  • Repeat 3-in-1 every three years, including RABIES

How often should I vaccinate my adult dog and/or cat?

According to the South African Veterinary Association (SAVA), the 5-in-1 for dogs, 3-in-1 for cats and Rabies (for both dogs and cats) should be repeated every 3 years provided they received their initial set of puppy or kitten vaccinations as above.

How often should we vaccinate our pets against Rabies in South Africa?

Rabies is an extremely dangerous and deadly disease that affects 9-10 people in South Africa every year. In 95% of human Rabies cases, the cause was a bite or scratch from an infected dog. This is why the South African government requires you to vaccinate your dogs and cats against Rabies as per the guidelines below:

  • 12 weeks of age
  • 16 weeks of age
  • Repeat every three years

Even if your dog never goes out, it’s a legal requirement for them to be vaccinated against rabies. 

If the director of veterinary services in a province deems the Rabies threat is severe enough, he can issue a statement to the vets that advises Rabies is vaccinated against annually.

For more infomation on Rabies in South Africa click here

What other vaccinations may my pet need? 

There are other non-core or optional vaccines which your vet may recommend for your pet depending on your pet’s lifestyle, the area where you live or if your pet will be traveling. Ask your vet to help you decide on what’s best for your pet.


  • Canine Corona virus
  • Leptospirosis
  • Herpes virus
  • Bordatella (another cause of Kennel cough)


  • Chlamydiosis
  • Feline Leukemia Virus
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
  • Bordatella (a cause of Snuffles)

What if I don’t want to have my dog or cat vaccinated every 3 years?

According to the WSAVA, an alternative to vaccinating every 3 years is doing serological testing on them. Your vet can take a blood sample from your pet and send it to the lab to check whether they have an adequate level of antibodies to protect them from the viruses. If this is the case, and they are adequately protected, revaccination isn’t necessary. The cost of performing these tests can be rather hefty, but the option is there if you want it. This is only applicable to Canine Parvovirus, Canine Distemper Virus, Canine Adenovirus and Feline Panleukopenia virus.

Revaccinating your cat with Feline Calici virus and Feline herpes virus should be done every 3 years or, if they are considered to be at a high risk of exposure, annual vaccination may be necessary. This applies to cats in catteries, breeding cats or cats who roam, for example.

Rabies, however, must be vaccinated against every 3 years in dogs and cats in South Africa, despite what the blood tests may say.


Can vaccinations cause cancer?

In cats, non-infectious vaccines like the Feline Leukemia virus and Rabies vaccines, have been suggested to be a cause of Feline Injection Site Sarcomas (FISS). There are, however, other vaccinations and injected substances which have been linked to this lethal cancer. We don’t have any data for South Africa but world-wide the chance of a cat developing a FISS is between 1 in 5 000 and 1 in 10 000.


Why does my vet want me to vaccinate my pet every year?

Annual vaccination has been advised for a few reasons.

Firstly – in order for the vet to perform an annual health check on their patients. Very often subtle changes in some diseases can be detected early and intervention can be implemented sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, if the dog or cat is not due for a vaccination, owners seldom bring them to the vet for a health check. In this case, the risk of missing the early detection of heart or kidney disease, for example, outweighs the risk of vaccinating annually.

Secondly – the vaccine manufacturers had proof that the vaccines’ duration of immunity was at least 1 year. But after multiple studies challenged this, it has become widely accepted practice (endorsed by the SAVA and WSAVA) to repeat the core vaccines every 3 years instead of every year, provided the patient is taken to the vet once or twice a year for a full check-up.

In South Africa, we are dealing with a largely unvaccinated population of animals. This varies between areas, but only around 10-15% of dogs and cats in this country are ever taken to a vet by their owners. Therefore, we are nowhere near the desired 70% to provide herd immunity against deadly viruses. Overvaccination has traditionally not been a major concern.

Lastly – with cats who are at a high risk of contracting Feline Herpes or Calici Virus (common causes of Snuffles), your vet may recommend that annual vaccinations are done and although they may not need the Feline Panleukopenia to be repeated annually, it is included in the 3-in-1 that your vet would keep at their practice. This is a good example of a case where you and your vet need to weigh up what’s best for your cat and make a decision from there.

The general rule is… If you’re a diligent and caring pet-parent who will take your pets to the vet for a check-up every year then there is no reason to vaccinate annually.


Dr Tanya Viljoen

After studying at Onderstepoort, Tanya worked in private practice for 4 years focused mainly on dogs and cats. She believes that the human- animal bond is a precious and essential part of life. Her passion for educating pet-parents and enriching animals lives makes her an important part of the team. She is owned by two fabulous rescue cats, Josh and Jasper, who mean the world to her.


Chinchillas Kittens

| October 1, 2017


Chinchillas Kittens available.


Registered Chinchilla kittens available mid of Oct.  They are gorgeous!!!
They are raised in our home, with alot of attention.  So we are looking for the perfect home for them.
Only to approved homes..
Registered and innoculated R3500 for Boys.
Please contact me for more info
Karlien Potgieter.
Glitter Chin Cattery.
Cell. 0836580764


Beware Internet Kitten Purchase Scams!

| September 30, 2017

Tracking and locating the perpetrators of these frauds is an expensive exercise, and has generally not yielded much success.

The Internet is a wonderful source of information and knowledge. However it is increasingly being used to operate scams and hoaxes, as many have discovered to their cost!  A number of complaints have been received by the Southern Africa Cat Council (SACC), from people who thought that they were buying pedigreed kittens via websites listed on the “Net”. They paid their “deposits”, as well as “courier fees”, often into South African bank accounts, and then waited in vain for the arrival of their new kitties!

These scam artists create bogus websites, using the cattery names of well-respected, registered and accredited cat breeders, and posting pictures of kittens and their “parent cats”, that they have downloaded from South African as well as international breeder websites. They run the bogus website for a few weeks, and then replace it with another, so as to be able to con yet another bunch of victims. The President of the SACC, a well known breeder of Burmese cats, discovered, to his horror, that there was a website using his cattery name, advertising kittens of a range of cat breeds that he certainly does not breed or own.

These “breeders” claim to be South African, they often advertise a range of “available” kittens for sale, such as Persians, Ragdolls, Maine Coons, Norwegian Forest, Sphynx etc, with a cell-phone number. When contacted and asked if it is possible to come and see the kittens, (and having established the buyer’s domicile), they will indicate that their cattery is based in another province.  The “sales” are always handled telephonically or via e-mail. Sometimes they will provide a landline telephone number, but closer inspection of the area code may indicate that the scammer is not based where he claims to be. If requested, a picture of the respective kitten may be sent electronically – more often than not down-loaded from the website of a legitimate breeder. They generally require a “deposit” to be paid, often as much as R2000.00 to R3000.00. After a short while, when the “buyer” tries to follow-up, there is no response from the contact numbers that were provided.

Tracking and locating the perpetrators of these frauds is an expensive exercise, and has generally not yielded much success. What is known and suspected about these scammers?

  • It is suspected that they originate in foreign countries, possibly China or India. (A short while ago a similar kitten scam, that focused on the sale of Sphynx kittens, was apparently being operated out of Nigeria!)
  • They probably do have a representative(s) in South Africa, who is able to open and close bank accounts.
  • Their knowledge of our South African geography is often limited, with little understanding of the distances between cities such as Cape Town and Port Elizabeth etc. Likewise their use of telephone number prefixes such as 021, 012, 031 etc is often a give-away.
  • Be wary of a “breeder” that is advertising an unusually large number of cat breeds and numbers of kittens e.g. 100 Maine Coon kittens! (Note: Some legitimate and respected breeders may focus on a number of different breeds, but when on one website, a large number of kittens, representative of some ten plus breeds, are advertised, this is often indicative of unscrupulous “back-yard” breeders or scam-artists).
  • Study the language proficiency and the content of the advertisement. The following are actual examples of text in scam-advertisements: “Kittens leaving at 9wks old, KUSA reg. (KUSA = Kennel Union of South Africa, for registration of pedigreed dogs!), or “…..we can use a shipingcompeny to have the kitten at you home adres when you pay deposit then contact me on my mobil number” (Ship a cat? Cats may be couriered or travel by air)
  • Beware of website addresses that have strange suffixes. South African websites typically end in or .com.

When considering the acquisition of a pedigree kitten, make every effort to visit the breeder and inspect the cattery. Check if the breeder and/or cattery is registered with the either the SACC (the Registrar of the South African Cat Register at 011 616 7017, or e-mail: or the Cat Federation of Southern Africa (016 987 1170, e-mail: or Cat Association of Southern Africa (CASA website: Even though the advertiser may claim that his/her cats are SACC or CFSA registered, verify this for yourself. Finally, pedigreed kittens should never be re-homed under the age of 12 weeks, so be suspicious if younger kittens are being advertised as ready for re-homing.

Buying a pedigreed kitten should be a pleasurable experience, so please be particularly aware when buying “sight unseen” or via the internet. Too many people have been caught up in internet kitten-scams, and end up sorry, but hopefully wiser!

Copyright & Credit:
Article by
Doranne Way –  Official Press Release by the Southern Africa Cat Council
Article Source: ALL ABOUT CATS IN SOUTH AFRICA is a glossy, bi-monthly quality magazine focused on all things feline. Order the latest issue or subscribe online at

Persian Kittens

| September 14, 2017


Pure, pedigree Persians for sale.

Parents of the kittens from overseas. Best quality. Registered with SACC.

Please phone Alan Davidson, Alanbury Cattery,  0823930455


What Indoor Cats Need to be Happy

| July 24, 2017

A cat is a cute, playful and curious pet. Being cute and playful is lovely but the curiosity can be a challenge at times. This curiosity can make it hard to take care of them considering that these feline creatures are natural hunters. Keeping them indoors without appropriate care can make them unhappy and bored. To keep them happy and healthy involves understanding their needs and seeking ways to meet them. This article will give further insight on how to keep an indoor cat happy.

Add cat toys

Cats are playful creatures. Provide them with various entertaining toys that they can play with. They will stalk, chase, and pounce on them. Different toys will serve different purposes such as chasing, battling around, hiding inside or simply interactive play. Add catnip to some of these toys as cats find this herb enjoyable. Catnip also makes the play more indulging. Interactive toys are particularly highly recommended. These toys include laser pointers that have a light spot for the cat to chase or a flexible rod with lines that have furry or feathery ends.

Keep more than one cat.

Keeping more than one cat is an amazing way of keeping an indoors cat happy. He/she will find mates to play with. The cats will be occupied as they chase and wrestle with each other. Indoors life will be fun for a cat with mates. They will be happy together.

Design a special place for the cat

Create a special spot specifically for the cat in the house. It could be an elevated perch or just a crate. Make it a convenient resting area where he/she can have some privacy. This will make the cat feel more secure and safe. Ensure that there is food, water, a bed, a scratching post and a litter box. Separate the litter box from the cat’s feeding area. Keep the litter box in a quiet and well -lit area. Remember that a cat is a neat freak, so keep the litter box clean and neat. You could get an automatic litter box. This litter box is designed in a way that it cleans itself and reduces bad odor. It will even let you know when it’s time to empty the waste.

Feed your cat appropriately.

Cats should be fed depending on their size and how active they are. Typically, they are feed two meals a day. It is better to seek a vet’s opinion on how to feed yours. Do not overfeed them. This may lead to them being overweight. Human food such as onions, garlic, certain nuts, and chocolate are harmful to cats. Provide them with plenty of fresh water all day long.

Indoor climbing systems

Naturally, cats love climbing. Provide your cat with great climbing opportunities. Set up cat trees mounted floor to ceiling, wrapped with sisal ropes and studded platforms for perching. This vertical space fulfills the cat’s natural interest in heights. Locate these climbing platforms next to the window for a view of the outside.

Provide room with views

Cats love sights that are appealing to them. You can achieve this by putting a bird feeder or birdbath near a window. A variety of birds will engage the cat’s interest. Make sure the cat has an excellent view. Install shelves to enhance the outside view. Adding this visual stimulation will please your cat.

Provide scratching surfaces

Scratching is a natural and important behavior for cats.Provide your cats with places that they can scratch. This can be cat trees and posts, cardboard scratching boxes and cat tracks. Scratching helps a cat to remove broken claws and stretch muscles which are healthy for them.

Spend time with your cat

Show your cat love and attention. This keeps them happy and contented as they are affectionate creatures. There are a number of things you could do together such as playing, grooming or taking a walk.

Plant a cat’s garden

Cats enjoy chewing grass. This grass can be planted in small pots for indoor cats. Wheat grass, alfalfa, and oat grass are healthy snacks and a way of keeping them happy.

Screened porch

Provide an outside enclosure. This is a screened porch accessible through a pet door or window. Your cat can experience the outdoors safely. It can be furnished with tree limbs, perching platform, and toys to keep the cat entertained.

Keep the cat fitted with a collar and visible identification.  Make your yard cat proof by making sure there no toxic plants, escape routes, garden chemicals, and dangerous objects. This is a good idea as the sly pet might find a way of sneaking out of the house without your knowledge.


Acushla Burmese

| May 10, 2017


Our cats live in the house and sleep in our beds.

Kittens are reared and raised with lots of love and tender care.

Only caring, loving and responsible owners will be considered.

I am a registered breeder with SACC.

Contact:  Sandra Lotra

Durban, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa

Tel.  082 4428328


5 Questions to ask before your Pet’s Surgery

| May 6, 2017

Your pet is a treasured member of the family so you are naturally concerned about their health.

It is important that you feel comfortable with your vet.

That way you can discuss anything that you are concerned about regarding your pet’s wellbeing.

When your pet is unwell, the more you understand, the more comfortable you will feel.

surgery  nurse-jess  north-shore-vet-services


  1. What is my pet suffering from?

If you are not familiar with veterinary jargon, ask your vet to write down the name of the illness / condition your pet has. That way you can understand it better and will not forget. It is important to find out from your vet whether the condition your pet has is acute or chronic, whether it can be fixed or just managed and if it is likely to recur again in the future. That way you will be better informed.

  1. What are the treatment options?

As your pet is important to you, you will want to know all the possible treatment options for them and whether they are commonplace or more specialised. Your vet will offer you all the possible solutions and explain the pros and cons of each one. Sometimes there may be only one obvious treatment option, but there may also be plans B, C or even D. Treatments are classed as “medical”/“conservative”, e.g. medication, or “surgical” (an operation). You can then decide what treatment is right for you.

  1. Risks and Complications

Risks and complications may arise in treatments such as pet surgery. Therefore, even a minor procedure has a set of potential risks. It is the responsibility of the vet to give you an idea about all the complications and risks. After you know all the potential risks and complications, you can then decide whether you proceed with the treatment.

  1. Estimate of the Costs

When your vet is explaining the possible treatment options for your pet’s condition, they should also provide you with an estimate of how much each one costs. That way you can decide which treatment is the most suitable one for your budget.

  1. Does the hospital provide overnight care?

Overnight care is where your pet is monitored / attended to during the night by nursing or veterinary staff. Many suburban vets do not provide overnight care. If you don’t like the idea of leaving your pet alone at night, you can discuss transferring them to a local emergency hospital. However there will be an extra cost involved in the transport for this and the care.

  1. Post-Operative Care

If your pet has a procedure (surgery) done, your vet will inform you of the care to be provided once they are discharged and go home. At home care may include, medication (such as antibiotics, pain-killers etc), wound care, rest, restrictions on certain activities, or a special diet.

All in all, your vet will do their best to inform you of the best health and treatment options of your pet. They are a very good source of information and they understand your pet. It is important that you ask all the questions you have about the condition your pet has and the best options for treatment. They want the best for your pet’s health, just like you do!

Author’s Bio:

Angela Hill is a north shore vet who works as the Practice Manager at Gordon Vet Hospital. She loves being surrounded by animals.

Cat Emergencies – When to contact your Veterinarian

| May 3, 2017

The following information may help you decide which conditions are absolute emergencies, and which ones may let you take a “wait and see” attitude. If your cat is sick or injured and you are unsure of the severity of the condition, it is always best to err on the side of caution, and contact your veterinarian (or emergency clinic) right away.


Contact your veterinarian immediately if your cat:

Has signs of heart or respiratory disease including:

  • No pulse or heart beat
  • No breathing or severe difficulty breathing
  • Bluish or white gums or tongue
  • A near drowning

Has been exposed to a toxin or poison or has had trauma including:

  • A broken bone, or a cut that exposes a bone
  • Heavy bleeding that cannot be stopped
  • An eye injury, the eye is out of the socket, or appears enlarged or protruding
  • A fight, especially if it was with another cat or a wild, or unvaccinated animal
  • A wound from a bullet or arrow
  • Being hit by a vehicle or other large or fast-moving object
  • Puncture wounds to the abdomen or chest
  • Any trauma to the head
  • A bite from a snake, scorpion, or poisonous spider; or has bitten a toad
  • Porcupine quills imbedded in the mouth, face, or body
  • A broken tooth, or the loss of a healthy tooth, including the root (keep the tooth in a small jar of milk)
  • A severe laceration, or an incision that has opened and the skin is gaping
  • Falling or jumping from an open window, balcony, etc.
  • Swelling of the face and/or hives

Has had heat or cold related injuries including:

  • Chewing on an electrical cord and receiving a shock or burn
  • Burns or inhaled smoke
  • Heat stroke or a fever over 105°F (normal is less than 102.5°F)
  • Frostbite or hypothermia

Has signs of gastrointestinal distress including:

  • Straining continually, but unable to produce feces
  • Choking
  • Vomiting blood or uncontrolled vomiting
  • Swallowing a foreign body (e.g., toy, needle and thread)
  • Diarrhea with blood, a foul smell, or that is uncontrolled
  • Black, tarry stool
  • A protruded rectum or bleeding from the rectum
  • An overdose of medication or suspected poisoning

Has signs of nervous system or muscular disease including:

  • Extreme lethargy or depression, unconsciousness, collapse, or coma
  • Seizures
  • A head tilt, nystagmus (eyes move rapidly from side to side), staggering, walking in circles, knuckling over (walking on the top of the foot), unable to use hind limbs, or other problems moving
  • Severe or continuous pain
  • Sudden inability to bear weight on one or more limbs

Has signs of urinary or reproductive problems including:

  • Difficulty giving birth: no kitten after 24 hours of beginning labor; no kitten after 30-60 minutes of active straining; weak or infrequent contractions once labor has started; crying or licking the vulva area excessively; abnormal bleeding or vaginal discharge; weakness
  • Straining continually, but unable to pass urine, or the urine has blood in it
  • A male who is continually licking his genital area (a sign of urinary obstruction)
  • Crying while trying to urinate
  • Bleeding from the urinary or genital area

Call your veterinarian the same day if your cat:

Has signs of heart or respiratory disease including:

  • Some difficulty breathing, shallow breathing, or breathing at a faster rate (unassociated with physical exercise or environmental temperature)
  • Continuous sneezing or coughing

Has signs related to digestion or food and water consumption including:

  • Not eating or drinking for 24 hours
  • Vomiting or diarrhea for more than 24 hours and acts depressed
  • Drinking water excessively, unrelated to activity or environmental temperature

Has signs of nervous system or muscular disease including:

  • Sudden change in behavior
  • Crying when touched or picked up
  • Cloudy eyes, squinting, or appears to be unable to see
  • Sudden, severe lameness

Has signs of urinary or reproductive problems including:

  • A retained afterbirth for over 8 hours
  • A female who is pregnant or nursing her young and develops a red, swollen, or painful breast
  • A male with swollen testicles or scrotum

Has signs associated with the skin including:

  • A rash, excessive shedding, excessive head shaking, or persistent scratching or chewing at spots on the body
  • Abnormal lumps or bumps that are painful, red, and/or hot to the touch
  • Maggots
  • A nosebleed for no apparent reason, bruising easily, or tiny red dots on the skin

Call your veterinarian in 24 hours if your cat has signs including:

Has signs related to digestion or food and water consumption including:

  • Not eating, but no other signs of illness
  • A soft stool, but there is no pain, blood, fetid odor, green or black color, mucus, or straining
  • Occasional vomiting (2 or 3 times), but no abdominal pain or blood
  • Foul breath
  • Sudden weight gain or loss
  • Drooling

Has signs of nervous system or muscular disease including:

  • Lameness for more than 24 hours
  • Swollen joints
  • Lethargy, depression, sleeping more than usual, unwillingness to play or exercise

Has signs associated with the skin including:

  • Moderate itching or an unpleasant odor from the coat
  • A discharge from the eye, ear, or other body opening

Shinga Pet

| April 25, 2017


010 596 8934

All About Diarrhea: My Best Secrets for Treating It at Home by Dr Becker

| April 25, 2017

Story at-a-glance


  • When cats have digestive troubles, they more often vomit than have diarrhea, but they do occasionally get diarrhea as well
  • Unless your cat’s episode of diarrhea is a “one and done” type of thing, you should give your veterinarian a call, as there are many causes of diarrhea in cats, and several of them are potentially quite serious
  • In otherwise healthy kitties, a sudden dietary change can trigger a bout of diarrhea. To improve digestive function and overall health, it’s best to vary your cat’s diet rather than feed the same food all the time
  • To treat a transient episode of diarrhea at home, I recommend a short-term fast followed by a bland diet of cooked, fat-free turkey and 100 percent canned pumpkin


All About Diarrhea: My Best Secrets for Treating It at Home


When it comes to tummy problems in pets, the general rule is that dogs tend to have lower gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms and diarrhea, whereas cats tend to have upper GI tract issues and vomiting. But with that said, cats can and do develop diarrhea under certain circumstances.

Root Causes of Diarrhea in Cats

The causes of loose stools in cats are numerous and varied, and include:

Dietary indiscretion Food allergies Hyperthyroidism
Sudden change in diet Ingestion of foreign bodies. Viral and bacterial infections
Giardia, Tritrichomonas foetus Pancreatitis Stress
Inflammatory disease Immune-mediated disease Cancer

If your kitty has a once-in-a-blue-moon bout of loose stools that resolves within a day or two, chances are she ate something that disagreed with her (or you gave her milk, which is a common culprit in feline digestive issues) and there’s nothing to worry about.

However, since there are many serious feline diseases that have diarrhea as a symptom, if your cat (or any pet, but I’m discussing kitties at the moment) is experiencing chronic or recurrent diarrhea, it’s time to make an appointment with your veterinarian.

Dehydration is an immediate and potentially life-threatening concern, especially for kittens, petite adult cats and kitties who are seniors or geriatric, or have a chronic illness.

Also, if the diarrhea is accompanied by other signs of illness such as blood in the stool, vomiting, loss of appetite and/or fever, it’s definitely a sign your pet is ill and you should seek veterinary care.

I recommend you collect a quarter-size bit of poop on, for example, a stiff piece of cardboard, and slip it into a plastic baggie. Otherwise, your veterinarian may have to manually extract a sample, which will make your already uncomfortable kitty that much more so.

Your vet will probably do bloodwork in addition to evaluating the stool to determine if there’s infection present. He or she should also treat your pet for dehydration if necessary, with IV (intravenous) or SQ (subcutaneous) fluids.

Two fecal tests should be performed. One checks for parasite antigens and/or eggs, and the other checks for bacterial or viral agents that cause diarrhea.

Have You Changed Kitty’s Diet?

In otherwise healthy cats, often it’s a sudden change in diet that triggers a bout of diarrhea, and this is especially true for kitties who eat the same food every day. If you feed your cat the same diet day after day, month after month, year in and year out, then suddenly switch to a new food, a case of diarrhea is just about guaranteed.

There’s nothing wrong with the new food, it’s just that kitty’s gut is conditioned to expect only one type of food, which is not ideal, nutritionally or physiologically. Cats fed a varied diet have stronger, more resilient GI tracts and can typically eat different foods regularly without a problem.

After your pet’s stools have returned to normal (I’ll discuss treating diarrhea at home shortly), I recommend you begin varying kitty’s diet to include a range of foods with different nutrient contents. This will promote a diversified gut microbiome and make her digestive system strong and resilient.

However, you need to make the transition very slowly, as in, over a period of weeks to months. I recommend starting with 10 percent new food blended with 90 percent old food for several days.

Watch your pet’s stool and if all seems well, move to 20 percent new/80 percent old. Keep watching for stool changes and if none occur, move to 30 percent new food and 70 percent old, and so on, until you’re feeding only the new diet.

The process should be slow enough that no bowel changes occur. During the transition period, it’s very important to insure your kitty is eating every day, as cats can’t go without food for long or they risk developing fatty liver disease.

For tips on how to make the transition (especially if kitty is giving you a hard time about the new food), take a look at my videos titled “Getting Your Cat to Eat Healthier Food,” part 1 and part 2.

Treating Diarrhea at Home

If your cat is otherwise healthy and his behavior is normal, my recommendation is to withhold food — not water, just food — for 12 hours. A short-term fast gives the GI tract a chance for some R&R. Tissues can only heal when they’re resting.

Follow the 12-hour food fast with a bland diet. I recommend cooked, fat-free ground turkey and 100 percent canned pumpkin. Try starting with an 80 percent turkey/20 percent pumpkin blend. If canned pumpkin isn’t available, you can use fresh, steamed pumpkin or cooked sweet potato.

Skip the outdated advice to feed ground beef and rice and go with my recommendation instead. Even lean ground beef is high in fat, which can exacerbate kitty’s tummy troubles, and rice is a starchy, pro-inflammatory carbohydrate that often provides zero nutrition or calories for animals with digestive issues.

Canned 100 percent pumpkin provides about 80 calories and 7 grams of soluble fiber per cup, compared to 1.2 grams of fiber in a cup of cooked white rice. The soluble fiber in pumpkin coats and soothes the GI tract, and also delays gastric emptying.

When animals have diarrhea, they can lose important electrolytes, including potassium, which puts them at risk of dehydration. Hypokalemia, or low potassium levels, can result in cramping, fatigue, weakness and heart rate irregularities.

Pumpkin happens to be an excellent source of potassium, with 505 milligrams of naturally occurring potassium per cup. Pumpkin is also safer for diabetic pets than rice.

And most animals love it, including cats. Feed the bland diet to your pet until the diarrhea resolves. If it doesn’t clear up in about three days, it’s time to call your veterinarian.

I also recommend keeping some slippery elm on hand. Slippery elm is a neutral fiber source that works really well to ease episodes of diarrhea. I call it “nature’s Pepto-Bismol” because it reduces GI inflammation and acts as a non-irritating source of fiber to bulk up the stool and slow down GI transit time.

Give your cat about a half a teaspoon or a capsule for each 10 pounds of body weight with every bland meal. I also recommend adding in a good-quality probiotic once the stool starts to firm up. In addition to slippery elm and probiotics, many pet owners have good luck with herbs such as peppermint, fennel or chamomile. These are especially helpful for the cramping and other uncomfortable GI symptoms that come with diarrhea.

There are also several homeopathic remedies that can be very beneficial for intermittent diarrhea depending on your pet’s specific symptoms, including nux vomica, veratrum, podophyllum, arsenicum album and china.

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