Vaccines help to protect against specific infectious diseases caused by some viruses and bacteria. They stimulate the body’s immune system to detect infection and help the body fight against infection if necessary in the future. Without vaccination, many cats will become seriously ill or may even die from diseases that their immune system is unable to fight effectively on its own.
The use of vaccines has prevented death and disease in millions of cats and it is important to continue this practice to ensure cats are protected throughout their lives. In addition, vaccines protect people from disease, such as rabies, that can be transmitted from cats. A discussion about vaccination needs and your cat’s individual risk is a part of their routine check-up with their veterinarian.

Newborn kittens depend on their mothers for food and warmth, but also for protection against infectious diseases. The first few times they nurse, kittens get  antibodies from their mother’s milk  hat will help to keep them safe for a few weeks to several months. This immunity provides protection with “maternally derived antibodies” (MDA) while a kitten’s own immune system is still developing. However, if the antibody levels decrease before the kitten has developed his/her own immunity, they may not be protected which could leave the kitten susceptible to disease. During the time when the kitten has high levels of MDA, it can interfere with their immune system’s ability to fully respond to vaccination. The rate at which MDA declines is different for every kitten. Since we cannot predict for each kitten when MDA has become low enough to allow an effective response to vaccination, guidelines have been developed to protect as many kittens as possible  against disease by giving a series of vaccinations starting at 4 weeks of age. An incomplete series of kitten vaccinations may leave your kitten vulnerable to infection, so it is important to follow your veterinarian’s recommendations and vaccinate up to at least 16-18 weeks of age with boosters at 6 months and 12 months of age, depending on the vaccine. 


Many things need to be taken into consideration when deciding how often your cat needs to be vaccinated. These include such factors as:

  • Health status
  • Your cat’s age and lifestyle
  • How long a specific vaccine provides protection for (“duration of immunity”)
  • How likely your cat is to be exposed to a specific disease
  • How dangerous a disease might be • Licensing regulations in the area where you live or travel

This is why re-vaccination intervals may vary from cat to cat, home to home, and between different diseases. Your veterinarian will be able to customize
a vaccination schedule for your individual cat.

The benefits of vaccination greatly outweigh possible risks. Just as in children, following  vaccination your cat may experience mild and short-lived reactions (malaise), such as poor appetite, lethargy, and fever that resolve without treatment. Any symptoms that persist for more than a day or two should be discussed with your veterinarian. Rarely, more serious allergic reactions occur 
and may include vomiting, diarrhea, facial swelling, or difficulty breathing. These serious reactions appear within minutes or hours of vaccination and require immediate veterinary care. Another uncommon reaction is a tumor at the injection site that develops months or years after vaccination. Talk to your veterinarian about any persistent lumps or swellings at injection sites.


The vaccines your cat needs will depend  on his/her health status, age, lifestyle, and what diseases are common in your area. In some areas, rabies vaccination is required by law to protect both animals and people. If you travel with your cat, your veterinarian may advise vaccination against diseases in the areas you visit. It is important to remember that even cats living totally indoors require regular vaccination as they may be exposed to diseases in many circumstances (such as travel or boarding, interaction with other cats, the addition of a new cat to the home, and even viruses carried on your clothing). Some diseases are easier to vaccinate against than others. For example, vaccination is very effective against feline parvovirus infection (panleukopenia) but does not completely protect against respiratory virus infections. However, cats vaccinated against respiratory tract infections generally have milder illness than if they hadn’t been vaccinated and are far less likely to die from the disease. Your veterinarian is the best person to evaluate your cat’s individual needs in order to discuss which vaccines are necessary and how often they should be given to provide the best protection for your cat.

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Cats go through four life stages: kitten, young adult, mature adult, and senior. They become a senior cat when they are 11 years old. Senior cats have very different needs and it is helpful to understand the physical and emotional changes that happen as your cat ages.
Common age-related changes include:

  • Changes in behavior and sleeping patterns
  • Increased ‘talking’ or meowing
  • Pain related to movement (jumping, using stairs, in/out of high-sided litter box)
  • Changes in sight and hearing
  • Decreased sense of smell and taste
  • Weight loss and loose skin
  • Brittle nails or nails that need to be trimmed more often
  • Decreased ability to absorb nutrients and increased need for protein

The lifespan of a cat is five times shorter than the lifespan of a human, so cats age more quickly than people. An 11-year-old cat is about 60 in human years, but a 16-year- old cat is already 80 in human years. We get a checkup once a year; an equal number of checkups for a healthy senior cat would be every 10–11 weeks! Because much can change in a short time, bringing your senior cat for regular checkups is very important.

Cats are masters of hiding signs of disease and pain, and may appear healthy even if they are sick or hurting. Being a responsible caregiver includes bringing your cat in for regular checkups. Cats 10 to 15 years old should have checkups every 6 months, and cats over 15 years should be seen every 4 months. Cats with ongoing health issues may need checkups more often depending on their illnesses. Your veterinarian relies on the information you provide about your cat’s daily lifestyle to identify signs of disease, pain, or behavior changes.

During checkups, your veterinarian will thoroughly examine your cat’s weight, mouth, teeth, eyes, ears, thyroid gland, heart, lungs, stomach, joints, muscles, lymph nodes, blood pressure, and skin/coat quality. They will discuss vaccinations and parasite prevention based on your cat’s lifestyle. Annual blood and urine tests, similar to your annual checkup tests, can help discover  problems and monitor your cat’s health. Your veterinarian will compare new bloodwork results with previous testing and examine any changes. Checkups often identify disease or age-related health conditions before they are painful or cost more to manage.

Pain can be hard to notice because cats try to hide signs of discomfort and illness from us. Your veterinarian is trained to recognize subtle signs of pain. Feline arthritis, or degenerative joint disease (DJD), is very common in cats. Studies show that as many as 92% of cats have DJD. Any change in your cat’s normal behavior or routine can be a sign of pain (learn more at You can help your senior cat by providing steps or ramps for easy access to favorite spaces, as well as night lights to help your cat see better in the dark. Consider a litter box with lower entry so senior cats can get in and out more easily and think about items for senior cats in a more “accessible manner.”


Keeping your senior cat at a healthy weight is crucial. During  checkups, your veterinarian will weigh your cat and feel your cat’s muscles. This information helps to determine your cat’s healthiest
weight and body condition. Gradual weight gain or loss is hard to see. You can weigh your cat at home using a scale for lower weight levels (e.g., baby scale), and alert your veterinarian to any weight gain or loss. Senior cats are at risk of becoming underweight due to a decreasing sense of taste or smell, which can cause a lack of interest in eating.

Overweight cats are more likely to develop diabetes, arthritis (DJD), heart disease, and lower urinary tract disease. If you are having problems getting your cat to eat, have your veterinarian make sure your cat is not sick. If your cat is healthy, try offering a different texture of food (e.g., finely ground food instead of chunky), strong smelling food, warmed or chilled canned food, or fresh food that hasn’t sat out too long and offered a few times throughout the day. Some cats like small amounts of flavoring, such as canned tuna juice or low-sodium, unseasoned broth. Place food where your cat spends the most time and in a location where your cat can eat quietly and calmly. Senior cats may prefer wide and low-sided food and water bowls that don’t touch their whiskers. Providing elevated bowls can help those that may be in pain from bending down to eat. Hydration is very important for senior cats so consider providing multiple drinking stations, and speak to your veterinarian about foods or supplements that can increase water intake.

Many illnesses and conditions can occur as your cat ages, and sometimes several at a time. If you see a change in your cat’s behavior and habits, alert your veterinarian. Some common diseases affecting older cats are arthritis (DJD), cancer, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, dental disease, gastrointestinal disease, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, and cognitive dysfunction syndrome (affecting memory and awareness). General signs of disease, which may be hard to notice at first, can include:

  • Drinking more or less, and/or producing larger amounts of urine
  • Nausea, vomiting, or constipation
  • Decreased appetite, weight loss, or muscle loss
  • Poor fur/coat and decreased grooming
  • Changes in behavior including hyperactivity (unusual activity), anxiety, tiredness, or not using the litter box; changes to sleeping patterns and resting locations
  • Abnormal swelling or skin masses (unusual lumps or growths)
  • Sores that do not heal; bleeding or discharge
    Difficulty breathing, urinating, or passing stools

Managing diseases can be stressful for you and your cat. Your veterinarian will discuss a treatment and management plan with you. Discuss your concerns, ideas, and ability to follow through with recommendations so you can create a plan to minimize pain and stress for your cat. Continuing checkups is the best way to monitor your cat’s health, pain, and quality of life status.


Even with regular veterinary care and treatment, many senior cats will reach a point at which their quality of life is severely affected by illness or pain. When this time comes for your cat, please discuss the best course of action with your veterinarian. Together you will work through a quality-of-life assessment that asks questions to help you determine the next steps. Your veterinarian can support you and your cat during end of life care, provide hospice care, and teach you ways to help your cat be comfortable during the end stages of an illness. If euthanasia becomes necessary, your veterinarian will help you understand what to expect during and after the process. Preparing for the experience will not take away the pain and grief, but will help ensure a calmer, more informed process.


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Visits to the veterinarian are an important  part of caring for your cat. However, putting your cat in a carrier and traveling with them to and from the veterinary practice can be stressful for you and your cat. Thankfully, there are many ways to make the visit more pleasant for you both. Keeping our cats healthy is important to us.
earlier sickness is found, the easier it is to treat, so regular checkups will help your cat have a long and healthy life.

There is often more than one reason your cat may be stressed by a veterinary visit and these can add up which may increase your cat’s fear or anxiety.
Avoiding veterinary visits to prevent stress could harm your cat’s health. We can reduce stress by preparing for the visit which includes choosing the right cat carrier, understanding how to travel with your cat, and learning tips for when your cat gets back home.


It helps to get your cat used to their carrier, travel, and the veterinary practice to make the visit a better experience. It is easiest if visits start when your cat is a kitten, but all cats can still learn to be content traveling in their carrier.

Positive Carrier Experiences
Helping your cat feel that the carrier is a safe and happy place will help them to feel safe with travel and visits to their veterinary practice.

  • Add a favorite, soft blanket or bed into the carrier for your cat to curl up on.
  • Put a towel or blanket from home over the carrier to help your cat feel safe and be able to hide.
  • Products that contain calming cat pheromones can be sprayed on the blankets 15 minutes – 4 hours before travel. Make sure your cat is not nearby when spraying
    the blanket.
  • Ask your veterinarian if you can offer a small and tasty food treat in the carrier. You can also add some favorite toys.
  • When carrying your cat in the carrier, do not hold it by the handle alone, but instead hold the carrier underneath to reduce movement and keep it level.


Choosing the Right Cat Carrier
It is important to choose a carrier that is safe to reduce the stress of traveling and the veterinary visit and to prevent your cat from getting loose. A hard plastic carrier is the safest and easiest to clean compared with other carrier types. Choose one with a top that comes off to help your cat’s veterinarian care for your cat more easily.

When the top is removed by the veterinarian, your cat can remain in the bottom of the carrier to feel safer during the checkup.

If soft carriers are used, they should have a large opening option at the top, and have one or preferably two door openings on either end. Soft carriers should not have a door opening that can collapse when the door is open. ‘Backpack’ style carriers do not have enough space for the cat to move around comfortably and can be unstable making the cat feel unsafe.

A harness or collar with a leash is not a safe way to travel with your cat. If you are bringing more than one cat, each cat should have their own carrier. Even cats that get along should travel in separate carriers because the stress of travel may make them act differently towards each other.

Getting your Cat into the Cat Carrier
It is common to store carriers away in a garage, basement, or closet until needed. It is much better to keep the carrier in the place in your home where your cat likes to spend
time. Add a favorite blanket or bed with familiar smells, and put treats in the carrier, making it a happy and safe space.

The carrier is then easily available for veterinary visits and also emergencies. Ideally, your cat will enter the carrier of their own choice. A treat or a toy may help, or you may even train your cat to enter the carrier. If your cat needs to be put into the carrier, this should always be done gently and calmly. Cats are as clever as dogs and can learn tricks and commands.

They can be trained to go into their carrier if they feel it is a safe place. Training can take time and patience, but it is worth it to help your cat get to the veterinary practice with less stress and more ease and comfort. As you and your cat work through the steps for carrier training, always allow time for your cat to get comfortable with each step before moving on. Videos can be found at 


Sometimes Medicine Can be Helpful
For some cats, traveling to the veterinary practice is still stressful even when you have worked to create a better experience. This might be due to trips that did not go well in the past, or early life experiences even before you adopted your cat. When this happens, it can be helpful to give your cat some medicine from your veterinarian before traveling.

Gabapentin is most commonly used for this purpose and has been shown to help reduce a cat’s stress, helping them to feel calm during travel and while at the veterinary practice. If your cat is still stressed and scared even with medicine, talk to your veterinarian. Just like us, cats can have travel sickness. They may vomit or drool during travel. If you think your cat feels sick during travel, ask your veterinarian for medicine to treat nausea. 


Traveling to the veterinary practice can still be upsetting for your cat. They can be scared by the movement of the car, and the new and strange noises, sights, and smells. Here are some helpful tips in addition to the carrier tips already mentioned:

  • Cover the carrier with a blanket or thick towel before moving from your house to the car. This will help to reduce sights and sounds.
  • Make sure the carrier is secure in the car. The safest space for the carrier is on the floor between the back and front seats.
  • Be sure the car has good ventilation and keep it at a comfortable temperature for your cat. Try to limit loud sounds in the car by turning off the radio or music, and limiting loud voices or use of the car’s horn. Playing cat-specific music can help relax your cat.
  • Never be tempted to open your cat’s carrier, even if they are meowing, as this is not safe for you or your cat. Use a quiet, calm voice to comfort your cat during the trip and plan to try carrier training, or ask your veterinarian about medicine for travel.


When you arrive home after a trip to the veterinary practice, your cat may smell different to your other cats. This is more likely after a longer stay at the hospital or
if your cat had an operation. They may also look different with bandages, clipped hair, or e-collars. Your other cats may become upset because of the new smells on
your cat, and they might hiss or fight with your cat returning from the veterinarian. They may also avoid each other. It is always best to separate your returning cat with
a specific slow reintroduction:

  • Keep your cat in the carrier with the door closed to monitor the response from other cats in your home.
  • If there is hissing, keep the returning cat in a separate room with all they need to be comfortable (food, water, litter box, and comfy bed), especially if your cat had an operation and could be still feeling the anesthetic medication.
  • The returning cat will begin to smell familiar again through grooming and contact with the home environment. Swap bedding that has each cat’s scent on it to help to re-establish your cat’s normal smells.
  • After a few hours, or possibly longer following an operation, and based on your veterinarian’s advice, slowly allow contact with the other cats.
  • Watch what your cats do when they see each other. If they seem angry or run away from each other they may need more time separated before trying again.
  • Using special feline pheromone plug-ins and sprays where your cats spend most
    of their time can help.

We all want our cats to be healthy and happy, and efforts to make trips to the veterinary practice easier will benefit both you and your cat.

Always choose an American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) designated Cat Friendly Practice® , Cat Friendly Veterinarian, or Veterinary Professional, for your cat’s care, if possible. For more information about these Programs and how they will help your cat, visit

You are an important member of your cat’s healthcare team. You are instrumental in helping your cat have more relaxed veterinary visits and improved healthcare. |

For more information on getting your cat to the veterinarian, visit

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What are allergies and how do they affect cats?

One of the most common conditions affecting cats is allergy. An allergy occurs when the cat’s immune system “overreacts” to foreign substances called allergens or antigens. Those overreactions are manifested in one of three ways. The most common manifestation is itching of the skin, either localized in one area or a generalized reaction all over the cat’s body. Another manifestation involves the respiratory system and may result in coughing, sneezing, and wheezing. Sometimes, there may be an associated nasal or ocular (eye) discharge. The third manifestation involves the digestive system, resulting in vomiting, flatulence or diarrhea.

How many types of allergies are there and how are they each treated?

There are four known types of allergies in the cat: contact, flea, food, and inhalant. Each has common clinical signs and unique characteristics.

*Contact Allergy

Contact allergies are the least common of the four types of allergies in cats. They result in a local reaction on the skin. Examples of contact allergy include reactions to flea collars or to types of bedding, such as wool. If the cat is allergic to such substances, there will be skin irritation and itching at the points of contact. Removal of the contact irritant solves the problem. However, identifying the allergen can be challenging in many cases.

*Flea Allergy

The area most commonly involved is over the rump or base of the tail. In addition, the cat may have numerous, small scabs around the head and neck. These scabs are often referred to as miliary lesions, a term which was coined because the scabs look like millet seeds.

The most important treatment for flea allergy is to eliminate all fleas.

*Inhalant Allergy

Inhalant allergy (or atopy) is common in cats. Cats may be allergic to all of the same inhaled allergens that affect us. These include tree pollens (cedar, ash, oak, etc.), grass pollens (especially Bermuda), weed pollens (ragweed, etc.), molds, mildew, and the house dust mite. Many of these allergies occur seasonally, such as ragweed, cedar, and grass pollens.

Most cats that have an inhalant allergy are allergic to several allergens. If the number of allergens is small and they seasonal, itching may last for just a few weeks at a time during one or two periods of the year. If the number of allergens is large or they are present year-round, the cat may itch constantly.

Treatment depends largely on the length of the cat’s allergy season. It involves one of two approaches.

Steroids will dramatically block the allergic reaction in most cases. These may be given topically or orally depending on the circumstances. The side-effects of steroids are much less common in cats than in people. If steroids are appropriate for your cat, you will be instructed in their proper use.

The second approach to inhalant allergy treatment is desensitization with specific antigen injections or “allergy shots”. On average, approximately half of the cat’s receiving desensitization therapy will experience a significant decrease in their clinical signs. This approach is not used with food allergy.

Although desensitization is the ideal way to treat inhalant allergy, it does have some drawbacks and may not be the best choice in certain circumstances.

*Food Allergy

Cats are not likely to be born with food allergies. More commonly, they develop allergies to food products they have eaten for a long time.

The allergy most frequently develops in response to the protein component of the food; for example; fish, beef, dairy, or chicken. Food allergy may produce any of the clinical signs previously discussed, including itching, digestive disorders, and respiratory distress. Food allergy testing is recommended when the clinical signs have been present for several months, when the cat has a poor response to steroids, or when a very young cat itches without other apparent causes of allergy.

Testing is done with a special hypoallergenic diet. Because it takes at least eight weeks for all other food products to get out of the system, the cat must eat the special diet exclusively for a minimum of eight to twelve weeks. If a positive response occurs, you will be instructed on how to proceed. If the diet is not fed exclusively, it will not be a meaningful test. We cannot overemphasize this. NO table food, treats or vitamins can be given during the testing period.

Because cats that are being tested for inhalant allergy generally itch year round, a food allergy dietary test can be performed while the inhalant test and antigen preparation are occurring.

Allergies are a frustrating disease that is often never cured, just, hopefully, controlled. Please call us with your questions and concerns.

About CVC

Chappelle Veterinary Clinic is a full service Veterinary Clinic which offers a wide range of veterinary care for cats and dogs, including routine exams, vaccinations, preventative care, diagnostics, surgery, spay and neuter, wellness services, dental cleaning, emergency and more.

Working Hours

Monday 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Tuesday 12:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Wednesday 8:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Thursday 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Friday 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Saturday 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Sunday Closed

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14128 28 Avenue SWEdmonton, AB T6W 3Y9

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