Cat grooming and other wellness tips for 2022

January 14, 2022

If 2021 was a hectic year, your cat probably felt it too. Now is the perfect time for you both to de-stress and focus on wellbeing. Our Head Vet, Caroline Ward, has some proactive advice for helping your cat get their ‘mojo’ back and enjoy the year ahead.

Booking a visit with our fully qualified veterinary nurses in between your cat’s annual vaccination and vet health check, is a great way to assess how they are doing. Our Appleby Magna nurses can advise you on ways to boost your cat’s health and mood.

Book a nurse visit for your cat

Cat grooming

Stroking and brushing your cat’s fur has health benefits for the both of you, thanks to its calming and soothing nature. Cats do love to groom themselves but most will enjoy a little extra help, and will appreciate dirt, debris, and matted hair being removed.

Plus, a cat grooming session is the ideal opportunity for the two of you to bond, and for you to check for lumps, bumps, and fleas. You will need a cat grooming brush and/or grooming glove, and a flea comb.

How often you groom your cat depends on the length of their coat – long-haired cats need grooming daily, whereas shorter coats will be fine with a weekly brush.

Remember, we’re always on the end of the phone should you spot anything concerning whilst grooming your cat. Call us on 01530 270 170.

Cat enrichment & exercise

Providing sources of mental stimulation and enrichment is important for your cat’s wellbeing too. Bored cats can become unhappy and start to develop behavioural issues.

Cat grooming is one form of enrichment, but you should also include some more energetic options. Our cat-loving nurses have pulled together six enrichment ideas that will get your cat moving more, as we all know exercise is good for the body and mind.

Try these ideas:

  1. Make mealtimes more interesting with cat puzzle feeders, or hide dry kibble around your home.
  2. Buy toys that help your cat use their natural predator instincts, like ‘prey’ on the end of string, or moving toys they can chase.
  3. Make DIY toys out of cardboard boxes, tubes, string, and other household items.
  4. Teach them tricks – this will take patience, perseverance, and treats!
  5. Scratching posts give cats something to do and help keep their nails trim.
  6. Try making an obstacle course or a cat home gym – just search YouTube for lots of ideas.

Cat nutrition

Another way to make your cat happy and healthy is to feed them a good quality, nutritious diet. With so many different foods out there, it can be difficult to know what to choose. Come and talk to our Vet Nurses in Appleby Magna about the best types of cat food for age, lifestyle, dental care, and many other health needs.

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Why talk to a Vet before putting an overweight cat on a diet

December 14, 2021

If your cat has gained weight recently you might be planning to cut down their portions or switch to a lower calorie alternative; after all, that’s what us humans would do!

With cats, however, even small changes to their diet can have a big impact on their health, and not always a good one. Our head nurse Lara Bettaney, explains why you should always consult with your Vet before putting your overweight cat on a diet.

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Carrying too much weight can cause your cat health issues, both now and in the future. This is why it is so important to get on top of the situation sooner rather than later.

According to Lara, all cats have individual physiologies and needs. Even small changes can make a big impact, which could be positive or negative. Changes might be food amount, specialised diets, and frequency of meals.

By booking an appointment with one of the Vets at our Appleby Magna practice, they can help you help your overweight cat lose the weight safely.

How our Vets can help:

  1. A nose-to-tail health check to look for any health issues that might be affected by a new weight-loss programme.
  2. An examination and Body Condition Score will determine how overweight they are.
  3. Discuss your cat’s ideal weight with you – usually 8-10 lbs dependant on age and breed.
  4. Answer your questions or concerns.
  5. Create a personalised weight-loss plan for your cat’s needs.
  6. Enlist the help of our nursing team to support you through your cat’s weight-loss journey and monitor their progress.

Our Vets will also advise you to take it slow when it comes to cat dieting. Any changes to your cat’s food should be transitioned over 2-3 weeks to avoid unnecessary stress on your cat and potential health problems.

Another important factor in any weight-loss programme is exercise. Lara and the rest of our team will be able to share lots of tried & tested ways to encourage your cats to be more active, involving healthy treats and interesting cat toys!

Take the first step in helping your overweight cat and book an appointment now.

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Christmas and cats – what could possibly go wrong?

November 14, 2021

You’ve seen the memes with cats stuck in Christmas trees, but what else can go wrong during the festive season when you have cats? Head Vet Caroline Ward, shares common causes of Christmas cat injuries and advises how to avoid them.

Given how curious cats are, it makes sense to keep our number in your phone just in case your cat gets into any bother.

Call 01530 270 170 for cat advice

Six common cat concerns at Christmas in Derbyshire:

Road traffic accidents

With all the noise and commotion that comes with Christmas, including extra guests at your home, cats often roam outdoors to escape the mayhem. As it gets darker earlier during winter, your cat is more at risk of being hit by a car. Caroline recommends fitting your cat with a reflective collar and providing ‘safe spaces’ indoors for your cat to take solace in when it gets too much.

Consuming harmful food & drink

Christmas can be a fun time of year for cats, with tasty morsels of food and leftover drinks all over the place to try. Some items such as pigs in blankets could give your cat an upset stomach, whereas toxic treats like chocolate or mince pies (containing dried fruit) could cause them severe harm. It’s wise to keep food, alcohol, and paracetamol (for the Boxing Day hangover) behind a closed cupboard, pantry, or fridge door and away from curious cats.

Plant poisoning

Poinsettias, holly, and mistletoe are festive favourites for many households. Unfortunately for cats, they can cause a variety of health problems ranging from nausea and vomiting, to collapse and seizures. Caroline recommends keeping harmful Christmas plants out of reach, or not keeping them at all.


– This substance is highly toxic to cats but tastes sweet (so we hear). Clean up any spills and keep the container somewhere your cat can’t get to it – remember cats can climb!

Christmas tree injuries

Saying cats and Christmas trees don’t mix well is an understatement in some households. Cats love to play with delicate baubles and wires, climb the tree, eat the needles, and rub themselves against the branches – all of which can end badly. Caroline has this advice for cat owners:

  • Consider choosing an artificial tree – real fir trees produce toxic oils that can harm cats when eaten or absorbed through the skin and eating pine needles can cause a lot of pain.
  • Smaller Christmas trees should cause less damage to your cat if they fall over – secure your tree to a wall or ceiling or use a heavy base to steady it.
  • Choose shatterproof or soft hanging tree decorations and nothing edible if you have pets.
  • Keep wires contained so they don’t look like string to play with to your cat.
  • Decorate your tree without your cat in the room and avoid leaving your cat alone with it.

Burns & scalds

Cats can easily get burned or scalded accidentally at Christmas time, with knocked over candles and cooking pans being the common causes. Avoid injuries by keeping candles out of reach, or your cat out of the room, especially the kitchen when you’re cooking.

We hope you found Caroline’s advice useful. As always, if you have any concerns about your cat, get in touch with us here at STAR Vet Clinic in Appleby Magna.

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Help, my cat is having kittens! Read our pregnancy advice

August 14, 2021

Morning sickness, increased appetite, nesting…a growing abdomen…surely not? Indeed, your cat could be having kittens! STAR Vets’ head nurse Lara, has some helpful advice for unprepared owners of cat-mums-to-be.

Book a cat pregnancy check-up

What to do if you suspect your cat is pregnant

First, don’t panic. Look for other cat pregnancy signs: red and enlarged nipples, 1-2kg of extra weight, and changes in behaviour such as wanting more fuss. Weight gain can also be associated with other conditions so a health check would be sensible.

If you have your suspicions, or your cat doesn’t seem herself, it’s advisable to book a check-up with one of our vets. They will do an all-over health check, and may be able to confirm a pregnancy just 15 days into her term using ultrasound. By day 40, our vets should be able to tell you the number of kittens your cat is carrying. Cat pregnancies can vary from 61 – 72 days in total.

How to make your cat’s pregnancy comfortable

Be sure to ask us what to expect when your cat is expecting. From a cat pregnancy timeline, to safe flea & worm treatments and the birthing process, our experienced vets can help you get prepared. You will also need:

  1. More food: Pregnant cats eat around 25% more food especially in the last 3-4 weeks. Regular meals will help keep her and her unborn kittens healthy.
  2. More water: She should also have access to more fresh water whilst pregnant, birthing, and lactating. Keep this out of reach of the kittens during and post-birth to avoid drowning.
  3. A kittening box: Create a safe space in a quiet corner, away from family members and other pets. Line a large box or cat bed with clean blankets and sheets (have extra ready too). Introduce her to it at least 2 weeks before the impending due date.
  4. Loving homes: ‘Lucy’s Law’ means kittens can no longer be purchased from anyone other than a breeder, or animal shelter. It’s a good idea to start looking for suitable homes early in the process.

How could this have happened?

Many cat pregnancies are unplanned; think unneutered cats in the wrong place at the ‘right’ time. Until your female cat has been neutered, she is at risk of becoming pregnant from just 4 months old. Typically, between February and October, cats have multiple short ‘heat’ cycles and are ready to mate.

You wouldn’t think this, but cats can get pregnant whilst pregnant! Some cats continue to have heat cycles during their pregnancy, so they are at risk of being ‘successfully mated’ multiple times.

Neutering is the only sure-fire way to avoid your cat having kittens, and it can be done from around 6 months of age. Stopping your cat going outdoors and mixing with unneutered male cats is recommended too.

Is it dangerous for a kitten to get pregnant?

Cats should ideally be fully grown and healthy before they get pregnant – around 18-24 months of age. Any younger and there is a risk to your pet’s health as she has not fully developed herself. Carrying kittens will use up valuable nutrients needed for her own growth and development.

At STAR Vet Clinic in Appleby Magna, we’re highly experienced when it comes to cat pregnancy and kittens. Our team is happy to help if you have any questions.

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