Specialist/Experts for your cat’s health – Even cats, like humans, at some point need to be visited by a specialist veterinarian. Who is it? What do you do?
Our animals deserve the best of the best. Indeed, being unable to provide for their own needs (most, not all), but needing us for this, they must be treated with extra attention, when possible. Only in this way can we ensure that they are always well, or at least in the best possible way. Our cats, in particular, are felines but with very minute and delicate bodies: they just have to eat a morsel between meals because they feel bad. They too suffer from discomfort, allergies and various pathologies, just like us.
If a human is sick, he goes to the general practitioner first, who observes him and realizes if further tests and checks are necessary. The precise diagnosis of what we have, however, is not made by him, the generalist, but another professional figure has this duty: the specialist.
Here, even our cats often go to the general veterinarian for a routine check, but when they really need a hand to solve a problem, they must be brought by those who know how to solve that problem, because they haven’t studied anything else for the whole his life: the specialist veterinarian.
The veterinary profession is considered illustrious in our country and all doctors are part of an association that deals with observing, collecting, informing and training experts, like any professional register: we are talking about theFNOVI (National Federation of Italian Veterinary Orders). While there ANMVI (National Association of Italian Veterinarians) it is a large organization to which all veterinarians can register independently and deals with information to organize, mainly, training events.
Like doctors for humans, those for cats and all other animals also have a code of ethics to be respected. Let’s find out more about it and, above all, let’s read together which are the most important experts for the health of our kitty.
Specialist veterinarian: these are the most important people for your cat
Just like the human medical field, veterinary medicine also has specialties. Think about it. We see our general practitioner for generalized treatments, but for other specific concerns, treatments or diseases, we turn to a specialist. It is the same for our feline friends.
Veterinary medicine is already such a demanding field, with veterinarians having to be able to evaluate and treat all types of animals, he claims Michael San Filippo, spokesman for theAmerican Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), one of the oldest and largest veterinary medical organizations in the world. The specialist veterinarian provides skills in specific areas of animal medicine, has studied his whole life for a specific sector and for this reason he is more competent than any veterinarian to treat certain types of problems and find suitable solutions.
The specialist veterinarian he is an important figure, since the animals are not all the same: cats are small felines, which attentions could they receive from a doctor specialized above all in fish or reptiles?
In addition, there are so many more research and knowledge and technologies available throughout the profession that it is difficult for a professional or practice to have access to all that is available, so specialists ensure that pets can receive care, the attention and concentration they need in every situation, he adds.
Veterinary specialists are people who have graduated, taking an advanced degree in a veterinary faculty and have therefore undergone several years of training with experience in a specialized field of veterinary medicine (such as dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine, ophthalmology and surgery) by means of traineeships. They must pass several exams and win the various certifications necessary to access the profession and be able to exercise it, exactly as it happens for those studying in a university faculty of Medicine and Surgery.
In Italy, both private and public universities have a wide range of excellent courses available. As for specialist veterinary medicine for cats, there are various gills and viable study programs. Thanks to these faculties scattered throughout our territory, the health of our cats can be considered safeguarded: in fact, it is impossible not to find the best specialist veterinarian to solve any problem that stands between our cat and his psychophysical well-being.
Here are the most common and useful specialist fields for our cat.
Veterinary specialist in Dentistry for cats
While many general practitioners provide dental services, such as cleaning and whitening teeth, intraoral extractions and x-rays, there are times when a specialist may be needed. The veterinary dentist becomes a truly indispensable figure, especially in the following cases:
- patients with special needs
- difficult extractions
- multiple extractions
- root canals
- advanced periodontal disease
- oral masses or tumors
- cases of stomatitis
- serious trauma
- jaw fractures
- orthodontic consultations.
Veterinary dentistry specialists also have training to provide dental care to patients whom general practitioners may not be comfortable putting under anesthesia. This could be due to concomitant problems such as heart murmurs, kidney disease or cancer.
Veterinary specialist in dermatology for cats
Does the cat scratch itself excessively? Sometimes clinical signs can be difficult to distinguish at first glance. For example, is itching caused by a bacterial infection, parasites or some other disease? A veterinary dermatologist has specialized training to diagnose and treat these conditions. In this case, the veterinarian will interpret the cat’s history and clinical signs and, as needed, will be able to perform a cytological test and culture.
In addition to animal skin, veterinary dermatologists have specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of hair, ears and nails. The wide range of reasons your cat may need a veterinary dermatologist includes the following reasons:
- skin cancer
- infectious skin diseases (bacterial, fungal, viral)
- atopic dermatitis (environmental allergy)
- parasitic skin diseases
- autoimmune skin diseases
- congenital skin disease.
Veterinarian specialist in Internal Medicine for cats
Veterinarians specialized in cardiology, neurology or oncology will be certified and their professionalism will be certified by FNOVI.
Veterinary cardiologists they focus on the diagnosis and treatment of heart and lung disease. This can include hypertension, pulmonary hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, coughing and other breathing problems, congestive heart failure or congenital heart defects, to name a few.
If your cat is referred to a veterinary cardiologist, diagnostic tests or treatments may include radiography, echocardiography (ultrasound), electrocardiography (ECG), blood pressure assessment, surgical repair or other means.
Veterinary neurologists they study diseases of the brain, spinal cord and other parts of the nervous system. If your cat shows signs of paralysis, seizures, head tilt and balance problems, spine pain or tremors, a trip to this specialist may be the next thing you will do.
L’Italian Association of Medical Oncology estimates that there have been over three hundred and seventy thousand new cases of cancer (0.6% of the population) among humans in 2019, a decreasing figure compared to the reports of the previous years: which means, most likely, that you have experienced firsthand, or that you have seen through someone else, what cancer can do on a being living. It’s not that different for our furry companions.
Veterinary oncologists not only do they specialize in the development of cancer and how to treat it, but they are trained to help our pets maintain a good quality of life during their treatment. As ACVIM states: Our pets deserve and can receive the same level of care from a veterinary oncologist that people receive through direct hospital treatments. However, our pets should also be able to maintain a good quality of life during these therapies. In fact, during treatment with chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery, the quality of life is constantly monitored and must be preserved.
Veterinary specialist in ophthalmology for cats
General practitioners are able to handle many eye problems, but there are some that are generally referred to eye specialists or ophthalmologists. These can include glaucoma, cataracts, retinal diseases, serious injuries and eye cancer. The following are possible situations, as indicated by the ACVO, in which your cat may need to see a veterinary ophthalmologist:
- your cat’s vision appears to worsen despite treatment efforts
- a corneal ulcer did not respond to treatments
- your pet’s eye conditions did not respond to the recommended therapy
Diabetes can also lead to cataracts, so consultation with a specialist may be needed before it develops in your kitten’s eyes.
Veterinary specialist in surgery for cats
All vets can run surgical interventions as part of their services, but difficult cases can be better treated by a specialist. Veterinarians can fall into a subgroup, for example orthopedics (bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, etc.) or soft tissues (internal organs and non-bone tissues of the body).
A cat that has suffered a fracture due to a collision with a car or a cat with osteoarthritis (a chronic degenerative disease with consequent alteration of the tissues) are two examples of a patient who must necessarily be visited by a specialist.
Always go to the general practitioner first, i.e. your trusted veterinarian
Don’t think you have to choose a veterinarian or go this route alone. The general care vet can (and should) support a group approach, maintaining a connection with both you and the specialist.
Referrals are not always necessary, but it is always better to establish a relationship and start taking care of your pet with a veterinarian who can provide general assistance and advice and who may recommend a specialist for further care and attention., says Michael. It is also important that your regular veterinarian and your specialist veterinarian communicate and share all the information that will be useful for the general care of your pet..
In addition, adult cats must undergo a complete veterinary examination at least once a year. Kittens need veterinary visits usually every three to four weeks, until they reach about four months. Geriatric cats (aged between eight and nine years) must consult the vet twice a year, or more frequently if they suffer from any pathology, because the disease is more common in older pets and must be identified first to provide treatment adequate. The vet can recommend a softer therapy for the well-being of your cat or write the recipe for slightly more specialized checks (for example, routine blood tests to monitor early kidney or liver disease), which must however be carried out in the clinic of a veterinarian expert in a specific field.
In short, even the general practitioner for animals is indispensable. It is also essential to have it as close to home as possible. This person must be able to intervene immediately in emergencies, as well as being able to make general checks and diagnoses: just as if he were an always active “first aid”, from which to bring our kitten if difficulties and complications of all kinds occur .
Specifically, even the general veterinarian must be able to practice treatments. Here are some of its main tasks.
Note the signs of a disease
Since you are more familiar with your cat than anyone else, you should listen carefully to him and see him frequently to catch the most subtle signs of disease that could escape another person or even you, who are the greatest expert of your feline. General signs of illness include lack of appetite or decreased activity. Other more specific signs include vomiting and diarrhea, more or less frequent urination, coughing and sneezing or secretion from eyes, ears or nose. The disease can also manifest itself as hair loss or itchy areas on the skin or around the ears. Problems with the musculoskeletal system they are often seen as stiffness or lameness, or from one leg bigger than the other, for example. If your cat shows one of these signs for more than a day or two, a visit with your vet is a good idea.
Give pills to a cat it can be a challenge. Some cats will take a hidden pill in a small surprise, such as a tuna or chicken. However, many cats will eat the treatment and spit out the drug. In these cases, you will need to learn how to administer a pill by tilting your cat’s head so that he or she looks up (i.e., to the ceiling), opening his mouth and placing the pill directly on the back of his mouth for swallowing. Your veterinarian or veterinary technician can provide you with a demonstration and further guidance. Sometimes they are prescribed liquid medications, especially for kittens. Liquids can be administered via a syringe into the back of the cat’s mouth by inserting the tip of the syringe near the rear teeth on both sides. Keeping the cat’s head partially pointing upwards can help prevent spills. Spot-on products or other topical medications are administered directly to the hair or skin. If your cat needs eye drops or ear medications, your vet or veterinarian will give you a demonstration. Regardless of the type of drug or how it should be administered, it is important to read and follow all the instructions on the label, but above all always ask your doctor first for trusted felines.
Vaccination it is a key component of preventive medicine in cats, as well as in dogs and people. Vaccinations are administered to stimulate the immune system against infections before exposure to diseases. Numerous vaccines come regularly administered to cats as main defense against serious infectious diseases (for example, panleukopenia, herpesvirus). Many others (referred to as “noncore”) are important in some regions and situations (such as the feline leukemia virus). The vet can advise which vaccines are recommended in your area and circumstances.
Traditionally, booster vaccinations have been administered every year throughout the life of the cat to ensure continued protection. However, the need for annual revaccination has been questioned in recent years. Some data indicate that, after the first year of life, immunity lasts long enough to make booster vaccinations necessary only every few years. Furthermore, some research has suggested that local inflammation, even that associated with certain types of vaccines, can lead to fibrosarcoma in cats, which is the most common soft tissue tumor of this species. Vaccines that use feline leukemia virus and rabies vaccines are the most commonly associated with this form of cancer. The debate on the best approach to vaccinetion. Your vet can recommend the best vaccination schedule for your cat.
Check if it has parasites
Numerous internal and external parasites can infect cats. The common intestinal parasites of cats include nematodes, hookworms and tapeworms. Worm infections are often passed through the eggs in the stool or directly from the mother to the offspring through the placenta or milk. Sometimes, a secondary guest is involved in the infection. For example, the tapeworm infections they passed by ingestion of larvae into fleas or infected prey tissues (such as mice).
Intestinal worms cause damage to the digestive system and blood loss. They also interfere with the absorption of essential nutrients. The infection is diagnosed by finding worm eggs (or sometimes worms or segments of real worms) in fecal samples. Stool samples must be tested several times in kittens, periodically (usually annually) in all apartment cats and at least twice a year in cats that are in the garden or away from home, which are particularly susceptible to this type. of parasitic infections.
Intestinal worms in cats usually don’t cause intestinal infection in people; however, hookworm infections have developed in people with weakened immune systems leading to abdominal pain and enteritis. Nematode larvae also have the potential to infect people; ingested larvae can wander in sensitive organs, such as the eye or in a developing fetus. Cat owners should frequently clean all litter boxes (it takes at least a week for these intestinal parasite eggs to become infectious) and wash their hands thoroughly after exposure to cat litter, feces, vomiting and other body fluids.
Cats can also become infected with protozoa, such as coccidia or Toxoplasma. These are microscopic parasites that live inside the cells of the digestive tract. Of great concern to cat owners is toxoplasmosis, which is transmitted directly through eggs or indirectly through infectious cysts in raw meat (usually from prey animals).
Toxoplasmosis usually causes only mild digestive disorders in cats, but it can cause more serious illness if passed on to people. Particularly at risk people include pregnant women, young children and those with weakened immune systems, such as people with AIDS or who are receiving chemotherapy for cancer.
Swallowed organisms can migrate throughout the body, causing damage to important organs (including the brain) or to the developing fetus. People at risk can prevent infection by not handling cat feces and by not eating rare or undercooked meat. Cleaning the litter box must be done by someone else. All meat for consumption must be well cooked.
The vet gives us detailed instructions on how to take care of our pet, but in the end what he really does is teach us to be the first players of our four-legged friends.