At Garston Vets, we understand how different the needs of our feline patients are to those of dogs. From getting in the car to being in a new environment with different sights, sounds, smells, and people, a visit to the vets can be somewhat stressful for the majority of cats. That is why we have put special measures in place that has allowed us to achieve the status of Cat Friendly Clinic from the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) – the veterinary division of the worldwide feline charity iCatCare.
Most cats are very happy in our spacious waiting rooms, however, to support nervous cats we offer designated cat-friendly appointment times at all our surgeries, on the following days of the week:
- Frome Vets – Tuesdays
- Melksham Vets – Thursdays
- Trowbridge Vets – Wednesdays
- Warminster Vets – Wednesdays
- Westbury Vets – Thursdays
Our cat-only appointment times include veterinary consultations and nurse appointments, and keeping our waiting areas dog-free reduces potential stresses for cats and owners (Note: if we do have any dog emergency cases during these times we will let you know on arrival).
Our many veterinary services for cats include important annual feline vaccinations and a health check with the vet, comprehensive parasite protection for cats to help keep fleas, worms & ticks at bay, and nurse clinics for weight & diet, dental care, and feline diabetes. Your cat could also benefit from our Cat Wellness Plan – find out more.
Our surgeries where we admit animals for the day to perform operations, or to hospitalise them overnight, all have separate heated catteries situated a long way away from our kennel rooms for dogs. That really adds to being cat friendly!
Top tips for how to get your cat into a basket
Read our team’s advice on how you can help your cat remain calm for a trip to the vets:
- Get your cat accustomed to their carrier or basket – keep it out at home as part of the furniture for them to sleep in, and you can even feed your cat inside.
- Use a top-opening carrier for lifting your cat in and out more easily.
- Cover the top with a blanket to help hide new sights, sounds, and smells.
- Handle your cat’s carrier gently, secure it well within your car, and drive carefully.
- Use a pheromone spray or keep a piece of clothing or material from home that smells familiar inside the carrier.
- On arrival move to a corner of the waiting room and keep your cat carrier off the floor – we have supplied special cat shelving in our waiting areas for this purpose. If you prefer you can always let us know you have arrived, and then wait in your car with your cat until your appointment time.
Rabbits are experts at hiding illness, so daily and weekly checks at home should be backed up with regular visits to see one of our nurses. Whilst the exact frequency of your furry friend’s vet visits will depend on a number of factors, we normally remind owners in spring and autumn. Ideally, we’ll get to see your rabbit at least once a year and just before winter is an ideal time to make sure they’re prepared for the colder months ahead.
Typical vet visits for your rabbit may involve annual vaccinations and dental check-ups, but it’s useful to remind owners what they should be looking for in between vet visits.
Below is a list of the essential areas we check when you bring your pet rabbit to our surgeries. We’re sharing this because rabbits are generally pretty good at keeping themselves clean, so if you spot anything mentioned in this list, it really is worth bringing them in.
Seven essential things for your rabbit health check list
- Eyes – Your rabbit’s eyes should be clear, bright, and free of discharge. Pull up the eyelid and the eye tissue should be pink. If it’s red or pale, or there is discharge from the eyes, call us.
- Ears – The inside of your rabbit’s ears should be clean and clear of wax/dirt. Check inside the ear with a penlight. Ask us to show you how to clean your rabbit’s ears on your next visit.
- Nose – This is really simple; your rabbit’s nose should be free of any discharge whatsoever. If you do see discharge from the nose, call us.
- Teeth – These are really important. Check your rabbit’s teeth by carefully pulling the upper and lower lips back. You should see the upper front teeth aligning with the lowers and a slight overbite. If the teeth are too long or the bite isn’t good, we may need to trim them, and we’ll probably need to talk to you about their diet.
- Feet – The most common problem with a rabbit’s feet is sore hocks or heels. If you see foot sores, especially open sores, call us.
- Nails – Nails shouldn’t be too long. If they are, then it’s a simple job to clip them at home. Ask us to show you how to safely clip your rabbit’s nails on your next visit.
- Fur & Skin – Your rabbit’s coat should be soft, shiny, and free of matted hair. If you back-brush the coat with your hand, the skin should be clear of dust and flakes.
As well as the essential list above, if you bring your rabbit in for a pre-winter health check-up we’ll be looking at areas such as their mobility, and talking to you about their eating and toileting behaviours. If you’re not sure when they were last seen, or, if you know it was over a year ago due to the disruption in 2020/21, then please do book an appointment.
In a survey conducted by the PDSA, 40% of pet owners said their pets feared fireworks. The fact is, fireworks are not just limited to the weekends around Bonfire Night (November 5th) anymore.
Our ‘Cat Friendly Advocates’ here at Garston Vets have put together some seasonal advice for cat owners across Wiltshire and Somerset on how to help their pets cope with the now year-round risks posed by loud and sudden noises.
If none of the ‘natural’ measures recommended below do the trick, you should talk to us about other options like pheromone sprays and diffusers for cats. These remedies can help even the most nervous cats.
The problem with sudden noises, like fireworks, is that they put your cat into ‘fight or flight’ mode. More often than not this means they bolt off, increasing their chances of getting lost or injured. These behaviours are more prevalent at times of the year when sudden noises are everywhere, but they can actually be triggered at any time.
Use the tick list below and follow our advice to maximise the chances of your cat surviving a sudden noise scare in one piece.
Four things to do when you know it’s going to be noisy
- Encourage earlier meal times. We recommend introducing earlier mealtimes for your cat around the middle to end of October as it starts to get dark earlier. This should get them into the routine of coming back into the house before it’s dark and the noises start.
- Keep your cat indoors when it’s dark & noisy. When you know it’s going to be noisy, keeping them indoors at night reduces the risk of them getting injured if they bolt. Restrictions like this can be stressful for cats so you should let them back out to roam when it’s safe.
- Do not try to coax your cat out of hiding. If your cat has been spooked by the noise and is hiding, leave them where they are. A searching hand will not be welcome and it’s better to let cats ‘sit it out’ where they feel safe.
- Give them a treat. A stuffed chew-toy or a puzzle-ball can keep cats occupied for hours. Any novel stimulation can help take their mind off noise, which can significantly reduce stress.
Two actions to help cats with noise phobias year-round
- Tag and microchip. Ensuring your cat is both microchipped and wears an identity tag, makes it much easier for you to be reunited if the noise has caused them to run to un-familiar surroundings.
- Create a safe space. A natural reaction when any animal is scared is for them to retreat to their ‘den’. You should provide a safe, comfortable, and quiet space for every pet – including cats.
If all else fails – consider cat pheromones
Just as with dogs, pheromone diffusers can be used to help calm even the most stressed cat when things get really bad. Diffusers can take a couple of weeks to take effect so it’s important to start using them in advance of known noisy periods, or as soon as you notice your cat becoming anxious.
If the natural steps listed above don’t quite do the trick, contact our practice on 01373 452225 to discuss your cat’s particular needs.
If your rabbit stops eating or begins to eat less, it can be fatal! So, if you notice a change in their eating behaviour you should contact us immediately on 01373 452225 – time is of the essence.
As your rabbit will tend to hide health problems for as long as they can it’s important you bring them to see us at the first sign that something’s changed as by then, they may already have been suffering for a while.
Rabbits must eat regularly to keep their digestive system ticking over yet many things can cause your rabbit to suffer from reduced appetite. Dental disease and gut problems are the most common but there are others. As you should always keep rabbits in pairs, signs of one eating less can be hard to spot. Even if you do spot that there’s more food left over it can be hard to figure out which one is not eating. For that reason, we’d also recommend you look out for the following signs and behaviours that indicate your rabbit may be in distress.
- Slobbering / dribbling / wet chin
- Abnormal droppings
- Weight loss
- Grinding teeth or overgrown teeth
- Wet / dirty bottom
- Withdrawal or hiding away
- Head tilt
- Noisy breathing
- Bald areas or hair loss
- Crust or wax in the ears
What you should do if you spot a change in your rabbit’s behaviour
If you spot any change to the way or amount your rabbit is eating, or if you spot any of the ten signs above, you should call us. You’ll need tell us what’s changed and we’ll advise if you should bring your rabbit in to see one of our vets.
Every cat lover should ensure their pet stays in peak condition and the best way to achieve that, in our opinion, is with regular check-ups. If your cat hasn’t seen a vet for a while why not contact us to book an appointment.
However, regular healthcare will only go so far. From time-to-time cats, like the rest of us, have an accident, feel under the weather or just begin to feel a bit older as common long-term conditions like arthritis set in. It’s because of this that many cat owners ask how they can tell if their pet in pain.
How to tell if your cat is in pain
Assuming their day-to-day healthcare needs are being met, here’s a list of the top six behaviours every cat owner should be on the lookout for.
- Vocalisation – If you notice your cat meowing or purring more than normal then you should keep a closer eye on them.
- Reduced appetite – A change in feeding habits is another early sign that something has changed.
- Changes in daily habits – Look out for you cat becoming withdrawn, hiding away and or stopping grooming as well as changes in their toileting habits.
- Altered activities – if your cat is pacing, restless and can’t settle in a comfortable position or wants to play less than normal. See if you can also spot any of the other behaviours on this list.
- Uncharacteristic aggression – Your, usually friendly, cat may growl, hiss or lash out when handled.
- Abnormal posture – A cat in pain may avoid putting weight on sore limbs causing an un-usual stance.
Basically, you’re looking out for any change in daily habits, but you have to look carefully as some cats are good at hiding injury and pain. A hang up from when wild cats needed to show predators how strong they were.
What you should do now
Again, assuming they are checked regularly by a vet, your best option is to get familiar with the way your cat behaves. Then if you spot one of the abnormal behaviours above, keep a closer eye on them. If that behaviour gets worse or if you beginning to identify other behaviours on the list, that’s the point you should be contacting us. Tell us what’s changed and we’ll decide if you should pop in for a check-up.
When you search online for ‘find a cat vet near me’, how do you know they are the best people to care for your feline friend? A cat’s needs will change at different stages of their life, so finding a veterinary practice in that your cat can grow with is important.
Many of our cat clients have been with us for several years, right from the kitten stage. Keep reading to see how we can help you and your cat as they reach every milestone.
Why choose Garston Veterinary Group for your cat’s care:
- We employ caring & compassionate ‘Cat People’ – Your cat is very special to us too, and we want to ensure they have everything they need to live a healthy & happy life. Numerous members of our team have undergone additional training in how to care for cats to the highest level, and you’ll both receive a warm welcome when you arrive.
- You can count on us for tailored advice – Your cat is an individual, and will have different needs when they’re a kitten, adult, senior and geriatric. Talk to us about cat nutrition, grooming, behavioural enrichment, and anything else you want to know.
- We’ve got preventative cat care covered – Our Wellness Plan is designed to provide all your cat’s preventative healthcare needs for twelve months at a time. The plan has been specifically designed so that your cat not only receives all the essential vaccinations and parasite protection they need, but also a whole range of additional benefits to ensure they remain in the best possible health, whatever their age. By paying monthly for your cat’s routine preventative care, you can save money too…for treats and cat toys of course!
- We’re a Cat Friendly Clinic – We’re extremely proud to be an ISFM Accredited Cat Friendly Clinic, which recognises the specialist care and attention we give to our feline patients. Our team and facilities are assessed on a regular basis to ensure we continue to meet specific criteria.
- Your cat’s comfort is important to us – For many cats, coming to the vets isn’t their favourite thing to do…we understand that. To help your cat, the two of you can relax in our comfortable waiting areas with cat friendly additions. We also have separate cat in-patient wards if they need to stay with us.
We’re here for you and your cat. Contact us to make a appointment.
You can help other cat owners who are looking for a local vet practice by sharing what you love about our cat friendly services on our Facebook or Instagram page.
Did you know that most summer cat diseases are preventable? Cat owners can lower the risk of their feline friend contracting a common cat illness, by carrying out a few simple checks this summer. Follow our checklist below.
Here are three summer checks every cat owner should make:
1. Check your cat’s vaccinations are up to date
The risk from infectious common cat diseases is greater in summer as there are more cats outdoors. Cats are routinely vaccinated against the below diseases to give them optimal protection:
- Feline Infectious Enteritis
- Feline Herpes Virus
- Feline Calicivirus
- Feline Leukaemia Virus (optional)
The schedule for some vaccines may differ depending on your cat’s age and lifestyle. For example, indoor cats may need less frequent vaccines for certain diseases than outdoor cats, and some vaccines last longer than 12 months. If you’re unsure whether your cat is due a vaccination and you’re registered with Garston Veterinary Group, get in touch and our team can help.
2. Check your cat for obvious signs of illness
Cats can be masters of disguise when it comes to illness and pain. However, there are some common, obvious signs that your cat might be sick: sneezing, coughing, runny eyes & nose, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, and lethargy.
3. Check your cat for ticks and other parasites
- Check your cat for ticks when they come home for the day by running your fingers through their fur and feeling for little hard bumps. You’ll need a special tick removal tool to avoid leaving the tick’s head in, as this increases the risk of disease transmission. Ticks can carry Lyme disease, a debilitating condition that can affect cats, dogs, and humans.
- While you’re there, it’s worthwhile checking your cat for signs of fleas & roundworms. Always wash your hands after and ask our team what to look out for if you’re unsure.
Our team can talk to you about the best combination of preventative treatments to give your cat optimal protection from parasites and common diseases. They can also talk to you about our Wellness Plan which can save you money on preventative cat care. Just give us a call.
When you think of summer, you probably think of sunshine and good times. If you’re a cat owner however, you should also be thinking about the summer dangers your cat could face in the West Country.
The vets at our Warminster ‘cat friendly’ practice have put together their top 8 summer dangers for cats in a handy checklist.
How is your cat at risk this summer?
- Cats in hot weather: Heat stroke is common and can become life-threatening quickly, even on cloudy days and indoors. Skin cancer in cats is also an issue, especially for light coloured pets.
- Harmful plants & cat pests: Summer gardens are the purrrfect cat hangout. However, some plants are toxic to cats (lilies, ivy, daisies…) and pests like fleas & ticks are rife in warmer months.
- Trapped cats: Most cats sleep more in hot weather and seek out a cool or hot spot. With more access to sheds, garages, greenhouses, and cars this season, cats can easily get trapped for days.
- Lost cats: Lighter nights make it more appealing for roaming cats to venture further afield. If they can’t find their way home, cats can end up at the vets or in animal shelters.
- Hazardous substances: Fairweather DIYers tend to leave sheds and garages open for longer in the summer. This gives curious cats access to toxic substances, some of which can cause fatalities.
- Dangerous rubbish: Uncleared Picnic and BBQ rubbish is an invitation to cats that like to scavenge. Worryingly, this could include glowing embers, broken glass, harmful foods, and alcohol.
- Risk of road accidents: People tend to stay out longer when the sun sets later. More vehicles on the roads increases the risk of road traffic accidents for cats.
- Cat fights & dog attacks: Cats are more at risk of getting into cat fights and being attacked by dogs during late spring & summer. More pets are out and tempers are frayed from the hot weather.
Download our checklist and see how many of these dangers you’ve considered, and where you could help your cat have an even safer summer.
Just in case your cat gets into a sticky situation, pop our contact number in your phone: 01373 452225