Emergency 0113 2369030
Out of hours 0113 2369030
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Holly House Vets Clinic, Ilkley 01943 609285
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Holly House Vets's home page
Emergency 0113 2369030
Out of hours 0113 2369030
Holly House Vets Hospital 0113 2369030
Holly House Vets Clinic 0113 2369030
Holly House Vets Clinic, Ilkley 01943 609285
Holly House Vets - Exotics 0113 3224341

Cat Advice

Helping you to take care of your cat

Cat Advice

Helping you to take care of your cat

Identity Tags and Microchipping

Identity Tags

Dogs and cats should wear identity tags with your details on so that you can easily be contacted if your pet gets lost or is in an accident. It is a legal requirement for your dog to wear a tag with your address on it. The obvious problem with tags is that they can easily be lost.


Microchips (or identichips) are a permanent way of identifying your pet. A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and is injected under the skin on the back of the neck. Each chip carries a unique number that can be read using a special scanner.

Vets, dog wardens and animal rescue organisations scan all stray animals and can then contact a central database to obtain the owner’s details. Being able to contact you quickly in an emergency can sometimes be life saving for your pet.

Microchips are essential if you wish to get your pet a Pet Passport.

A microchip can be implanted during a routine appointment, or while your pet is under anaesthetic for another reason.

Join our Pet Health Club to get your cat microchipped for free.

Why Vaccinate?

Vaccination plays a vital role in reducing the prevalence and severity of several diseases - including some that are associated with a high degree of mortality.

Indoor cats should also be vaccinated, as several viruses (especially Feline Infectious Enteritis-Panleukopenia) are very stable in the environment and can be transferred into the house on clothing and footwear.

Which diseases do we vaccinate against?

Feline Infectious Enteritis (Panleukopenia)

This infection can be responsible for a severe and often fatal form of gastro-enteritis, with severe vomiting and diarrhoea often being seen. This infection may also cause neurological symptoms in kittens.  Recovery can be very slow from this virus.

Feline Herpes Virus & Calicivirus ('Cat Flu')

These viruses are extremely common and symptoms include sneezing, ocular discharge, mouth ulceration and therefore anorexia and even pneumonia. The disease varies, from very mild, to severe, and can be fatal. Recovery can be very prolonged and the animal may require hospitalisation, and a feeding tube placed if the patient is not eating.

Feline Leukaemia Virus

This virus causes a persistent viraemia, and the animal will generally develop fatal disease. Most animals with this disease will die or require euthanasia, within 3 years of diagnosis. The animals die due to immunosuppression caused by persistent infection, progressive anaemia and development of tumours (lymphoma) or leukaemia.

Our Vaccinations

Not all vaccines available provide immunity against all these diseases, but at Holly House we want your cat to have the best cover available - so the vaccine we use covers all the above diseases.

How to get started

A primary vaccination course is required, and this can be done in your kitten from 9 weeks old. Two injections are required and these are done 3 - 4 weeks apart. After this primary course, a once yearly booster vaccination will provide full cover for these diseases.

Your cat also receives a full health check before receiving it's vaccination, so can be an excellent way of your vet picking up on any subtle changes, which may be signs of other early diseases.

Catteries are now also increasingly demanding full vaccination of your pet, before allowing them to stay. So why not prepare now for your much-needed holiday.

In these modern times, when vaccination is available, we should not see so many deaths from preventable diseases.

Don't let your pet be a victim.


Fleas are an all year round problem for our pets. If your pet has fleas then only approximately 5% of the fleas are resident in your pet’s coat at any one time. The rest of the fleas, along with their eggs and larvae, are living and breeding in your house enjoying your central heating!

Unless there is a heavy infestation, adult fleas are not often seen. The first indication that your cat has fleas will be the presence of specks of dark flea dirt in his or her coat. This is easily detected by combing your pet and putting the debris from the comb onto a piece of wet white paper, any flea dirt will produce a red blood like mark on the paper.

Fleas can bite both people and pets and their bites can cause painful allergic reactions.

There are many different types of very effective flea treatments available on prescription. Our staff at Holly House will be happy to advise you as to which is the most suitable for your pet. We recommend the use of flea control products all year round.

Many flea control products available from pet shops and supermarkets are not suitable for use on young animals and are often not very effective.

If you have seen fleas on your pet or are being bitten yourself, it is essential that you treat your house, car and furnishings. We recommend a spray, which contains no organophosphates and is effective for 1 year.

All of the flea treatments we use are available on prescription only. If we have an accurate weight for your pet and have examined them during the last 12 months we will be happy to prescribe flea treatment for your cat without you having to bring them to the surgery. Please telephone us and we can have your prescription ready for you to collect the following afternoon.

As a member of the Pet Health Club to view great savings on flea and worm treatments.

Routine Neutering Operations

The information here covers:

  • Preoperative procedures
  • Admission procedures
  • Contacting the inpatient nurse to check progress and arrange collection
  • All about Cat Neutering

Pre-operative Arrangements

Making your appointment

For routine neutering, Please try to ring at least a week in advance to organise your pet's operation.

Pre-anaesthetic Preparation

  • Cats should be starved from at least midnight on the night prior to an anaesthetic.
  • They should be allowed access to drinking water up to morning.
  • Cats should ideally be kept in overnight to prevent access to food outside (hunting etc.)

On the day

  • A vet or qualified nurse will admit your pet.
  • They will need to ask a few of the following questions: 
    • Is your in good health and a suitable age?
    • Is it the sex that has been booked in?
    • Have they been starved?
    • Are they fully vaccinated?
    • Are they microchipped yet? ( if not would you like this doing whilst your pet is asleep?)
  • There will be a health and weight check.
  • You will be offered a pre-anaesthetic blood test for your pet.
  • You will then be asked to complete a consent form giving us a number we can contact you on if necessary during the day.
  • You will be given a direct telephone number for our inpatient nurses, enabling you to contact them easily later in the day to check progress and arrange collection of your pet.

Cat Spay

We routinely only spay cats that are at least 6 months old. We don’t routinely spay obviously pregnant animals.

Cats with a pointed coat e.g. Siamese/Balinese/Ragdolls/Birmans which have darker colour on the ears and tail may develop darker hair in the shaved areas. If appropriate you will be offered a mid-line spay rather than on their side. Where this does occur it is temporary. Avoiding the flank is normally only necessary for show cats and must be discussed at admission.

Why spay a cat?

  • Cats can have 2 - 3 litters each year of upto 6 kittens in each litter. They can start breeding from 2.5kg of weight (usually 6 months).
  • Your cat will have a season roughly every 3 weeks, lasting 1 week, from the spring time until autumn.
  • During a season you cat may be very noisy meowing for a mate and also show strange behavioural signs of rolling and lifting her bottom. These behaviour signs will disappear once spayed.
  • During a season your cat will be desperate to get outside and there is a great increase in the risk of becoming lost or involved in a road traffic accident.
  • Spaying a cat removes chances of further problems of ovarian or uterine disease.

Potential side effects/complications of spaying

  • Anaesthetic/surgical risks are very low in healthy animals.
  • Occasional wound infections or self trauma may occur about the wound (rare).

Cat Castration

We routinely castrate cats from 5 ½ to 6 months of age.

Why castrate a cat?

  • An uncastrated cat is more likely to spray (urine mark its territory) in the house. Castration after this has started is not as effective at stopping spraying as earlier castration is at preventing it.
  • Uncastrated cats are more likely to get into fights for territory and need regular visits to vets due to cat bite abscesses. The cost of treatment for an abscess is likely to be more than the cost of castration.
  • Cats are more likely to become infected with FIV (‘Feline AIDS’) through bite wounds if uncastrated.
  • Entire male cats stray further in search of female company
  • Cats are more likely to get hit by a car if uncastrated as they will stray further.
  • Uncastrated cats can be a social nuisance, fighting with other neighbourhood cats and fathering many unwanted litters.

Post-op Care

  • The surgery is fairly minor. All that is necessary is to keep him indoors, away from traffic, protected from excessive attention, and warm the night of the operation.
  • Occasionally check the castration site throughout the week following the operation.

Join our Pet Health Club to save 20% on the cost of neutering.

Pre-Anaesthetic Blood Tests

All patients admitted for an operation or procedure requiring a general anaesthetic are offered a pre-anaesthetic blood test.

This test is done to give the vet more information about how your pet’s organs are working. Pre-anaesthetic blood tests are highly recommended in older patients. They are also beneficial in younger patients to confirm all organs have developed correctly and are functioning well.

There are three main benefits to carrying out pre-anaesthetic blood tests

  • Detecting hidden illnesses that may put your pet at risk during anaesthesia and surgery
  • Reducing risk by adjusting the approach to anaesthesia and surgery
  • Peace of mind for you

The blood sample is taken prior to your pet receiving any medication for their anaesthetic as the results can affect which drugs are given. The sample is taken from the jugular vein which is located on their neck. This means that your pet will come home with a small clipped patch of fur in this area.

There are two parts to a pre-anaesthetic blood test

Packed Cell Volume (PCV)

This test measures the percentage of red blood cells in the blood. If the percentage of red blood cells is higher than the normal ranges then this may be an indication of your pet being dehydrated and therefore, the vet may decide to put your pet on fluids.

If the PCV is lower than the normal ranges this may indicate that there is an underlying health issue and the surgery may be postponed.


This blood test monitors organ function, in particular the kidneys and liver.

The liver is checked by measuring two enzymes in the blood, which are normally at very low levels.  If there is any damage to the liver cells they release these enzymes into the blood and cause the levels to rise. The liver has vital roles to play in the body, including metabolising the anaesthetic drugs and producing the factors needed for blood clotting to occur. 

To monitor kidney function we look at the blood urea and creatinine levels. Urea and creatinine are usually filtered out of the blood and into urine by the kidneys, keeping their levels in the blood low. When the kidney filter is not working efficiently the levels in the blood build up. Kidney function is important during and after an anaesthetic because if there is a problem it may mean that your pet can not effectively filter the anaesthetic drugs out of their system and therefore, it has the potential to complicate their recovery. If a problem is detected on the blood test, the vet may choose to alter the drugs used in the anaesthetic protocol or put your pet onto a drip.

Biochemistry also measures blood glucose levels. If the glucose is abnormally high this could be an indication of your pet being diabetic or too low can mean that they are hypoglycaemic. Either one can impact your pets surgery.

By opting to have a pre-anaesthetic blood test we can tailor your pet's anaesthetic, pain management and recovery protocols if needed. The cost of this test is £52.94.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss the pre-anaesthetic blood tests further, please do not hesitate to ask the vet/nurse during your admit appointment.

Bringing Your Cat to the Vets

We understand that bringing your cat to the vets can be a stressful experience for both of you. The following advice can help reduce the stress to make the trip more pleasant.

Selecting a Good Cat Carrier

Carriers should be secure and easily cleaned.

Carriers that open from the top (such as plastic covered wire baskets) or have top halves that can be removed are most ideal so your cat can be easily put in and lifted out. It is stressful for your cat to be tipped out of their carrier.

Getting your Cat into the Carrier

Have the carrier out at home to give your cat the option to sleep or rest in it. You can also feed your cat in the carrier. Ensuring the carrier is not always associated with a stressful experience and is part of everyday life means your cat will be more relaxed about getting in. Ideally use the carrier at home all the time but if this is not possible, at least 4 - 5 days before if a vet visit is planned.

Ensuring the carrier smells familiar to your cat will help them be more relaxed. This can be done through putting a favourite piece of bedding or clothing that your cat uses in the carrier. You can also rub a piece of bedding or clothing around your cat’s face to pick up their scent and then rub this around the carrier and use this. Feliway spray can also be sprayed into the carrier a few hours before using it.

Take spare bedding in case your cat soils the carrier.

If you have more than one cat consider if they would prefer a separate carrier to one another, as being placed in a carrier with another cat they do not get on with is stressful. Cats that mutually groom one another or sleep touching one another likely view themselves as the same social group so would be happy in the same carrier. If not, it is best to transport them separately.

The Journey

Secure your cat’s carrier in the car to stop it moving about during the journey.

Use a blanket or towel to cover the carrier during the journey and in the waiting room. This helps to keep your cat calm by giving them the ability to hide.

At the Vets

Our waiting room is divided so cats can be kept apart from dogs as much as possible while they wait.

Cats feel safer raised off the ground. Please feel free to put your cat’s carrier on the chair next to you while you are waiting. At the reception desk we don’t mind if you would prefer to put your cat on the desk.

If you feel your cat will remain calmer left in the car, please notify reception when you arrive and our vets and nurses will be happy to call you through from your car.

Staying at the Vets

If your cat needs to stay with us we encourage that they are admitted with their favourite piece of bedding or clothing. This can be kept with them through their stay so the familiar scent can help reassure them.

Let the vet or nurse that is admitting your cat know what type of food and litter they prefer so we can provide this in the hospital.

Going Home from the Vets

If your cat has stayed at the vets for the day or longer, they may smell unfamiliar to other cats in the house which can be alarming for them. Gradually re-introduce your cats to minimise the stress around this period:

Allow your cat to pick up familiar home smells again before reintroducing them. Make sure you are there when they are reintroduced. In some cases you may need to separate your cats for a few days so they can gradually get used to being back together again.

You can help get your cats used to each other again by stroking each in turn to pick up their scents and then stroking the other cat.

Wash any bedding that has come back from the hospital to get rid of unfamiliar smells.

Using Feliway spray on your cat’s bedding can be useful as this indicates to them it is a safe place, so can help relax them.

When you get your cat back home:

Give your cat space, time and a quiet environment to settle back home.

Monitor your cat for pain or discomfort which can be very subtle. Signs to monitor for include not wanting to eat, hiding, being withdrawn or sitting hunched and quiet. We always aim to ensure your cat is comfortable when discharged and sent home with adequate pain relief but requirements vary between individuals so please contact the practice if you are concerned your cat is uncomfortable.

If your cat is reluctant to eat following an anaesthetic or when recovering from an illness the following things can be tried to encourage them to eat:

Warming meals and offering smelly food such as fish or kitten food.

Offering small amounts of food little and often and taking it away after 20-30 minutes if your cat has not shown interest.

Stroking and fussing your cat while encouraging them to eat.

Hand feeding them or placing a small amount of food on their paw to lick off.

If your cat does not start to eat after 24 hours please contact the practice.

How to Give Your Cat a Tablet

Oral medications are commonly prescribed and can be in the form of tablets, capsules or liquids. Giving cats tablets can be a worry for many owners and this leaflet aims to make the process easier.

Before starting to administer tablets you should confirm that the medication could be given with food, whether it can be divided or crushed and whether wearing gloves or taking other safety pre-cautions has been advised.

When giving oral medication, firstly, find the simplest method that works! Make sure you have everything you need close to hand and give yourself plenty of time. It is often easier with two people and handling should be confident but calm and gentle. You should always avoid putting yourself at risk of being scratched or bitten.

Remember you can contact either your Vet or Vet Nurse if you have any concerns or difficulties.

Giving Tablets in Food

Wait until your cat is hungry - this will encourage them to want to eat!

Some tablets are designed to be palatable and some cats will eat them voluntarily when offered from the tips of your fingers.

Small tablets can be hidden in a small amount of soft food (cat meat or jelly, soft cheese, butter, tinned fish). Make sure it is completely hidden and use either your cat’s normal food bowl or the tips of your fingers to offer the food. Always check to see if the tablet has been completely eaten before offering the rest of the meal. Strong smelling foods, at room temperature (or slightly warmed) are more tempting to cats.

If your cat eats around the medication then you may be able to crush the tablet and mix it thoroughly with a small amount of strongly flavoured food, but check this first with your vet. Pill crushers crush the tablets cleanly and completely – these can be purchased from chemists or through your vet practice.

Giving Tablets Directly into the Mouth

If there are two people, one should restrain the cat and the other administer the tablet.

  • Use a firm, stable, non-slip, flat surface
  • Your cat should sit upright, facing away from you
  • The person restraining the cat should place a hand above the elbow on each front leg (don’t try hold the paws). This stops your cat using its front legs to struggle, keeps them upright and prevents escape
  • Alternatively, you can wrap them in a towel – the towel shouldn’t be too small or too cumbersome. Sit your cat in the middle of the towel and first bring one side up and around the neck, then the other. This is a good technique if you don’t have someone to help you

When you are happy your cat is safely restrained, the tablet can then be administered.

  • The person giving the tablet should hold the tablet between their fore finger and thumb of their dominant hand
  • Approaching from the side, place the other hand on your cat’s head. Hold the head gently and firmly with your forefinger and thumb extending from the angle of the jaw, along the jawbone towards the point of the chin
  • Tilt your cat’s head upwards until the nose is pointing to the ceiling - the lower jaw should start to open
  • Use the middle finger of the hand holding the tablet to pull the lower jaw down
  • Quickly drop the tablet as far back as you can see on the centre of the tongue. Placing the tablet too far forward allows your cat to use their tongue spit the tablet out
  • Hold the mouth shut and encourage them to swallow by stroking the throat. If they lick their nose, you know they have swallowed
  • If the first attempt is unsuccessful you can try again, as long as they do not become distressed
  • Certain medications can damage the oesophagus if they lodge there. Giving your cat some food or using a syringe to gently give them water ensures the tablet enters the stomach safely

Using a “Pill Giver” can make this process easier - these are available from your veterinary practice. They allow you to get the tablet at the back of the tongue without putting your fingers in your cat’s mouth. Make sure the tablet is just in contact with the plunger so it releases easily.

Other things that may be useful and can be obtained from your vet are:

  • Pill splitters: devices to safely and accurately spilt tablets into halves or quarters (as long as the tablets are suitable for splitting)
  • Gelatin capsules: these are empty capsules which can be opened and filled with other medications e.g. if more than one type of medication is needed. Check with the Vet before giving different types of medication at the same time – sometimes doses need to be staggered
  • Pill crushers: these crush the tablet evenly and contain the resultant powder. The powder can be mixed with food as described earlier or with a little water or tuna oil and a syringe used to administer the suspended powder into the mouth

For lots of helpful videos showing how to give a cat a tablet, visit the International Cat Care YouTube Channel.

Taking Your Cat Abroad

The Pet Travel Scheme’s regulations changed on the 1st of January 2012. These changes had implications for those with dogs, cats or ferrets that already had pet passports, and also for those who may now be thinking about taking these species abroad and bringing them back to the U.K.

Previously, dogs, cats and ferrets returning to the U.K. from the E.U. or other certain listed countries could avoid quarantine provided they had met certain conditions. They had to have been microchipped and then vaccinated against rabies. Cats and dogs (not ferrets) then had to have a blood test (usually 3 months after the rabies vaccination) to make sure they had responded to the vaccine. Provided a certain antibody level was reached, they could travel abroad 3 weeks after the rabies vaccine but could not return until 6 months after the blood test was taken (the ‘6-month rule’). 24-48 hours before re-entering the U.K. the pet also had to be treated for ticks and for tapeworms by a vet, and this was then signed off in the passport.

Since the changes at the beginning of 2012, if your dog, cat or ferret is travelling to the E.U. or certain listed countries, they must still be microchipped and given a rabies vaccine, but the pet passport can then be issued. There is now no requirement for a rabies blood test and no ‘6-month rule’. Animals can travel 21 days after the vaccine and then return to the U.K. at any point after this, provided the rabies vaccine is kept up-to-date. The requirement for tick treatment prior to re-entry to the U.K. has been dropped. Tapeworm treatment prior to U.K. re-entry is now required only for dogs – the treatment must be administered by a vet not less than 24 hours and not more than 120 hours (1 - 5 days) before the dog’s scheduled arrival time in the U.K.. Pets will still have to travel with an approved transport company on an authorised route.

If your dog, cat or ferret is entering the U.K. from an unlisted, non-E.U. country, it must be microchipped and then vaccinated against rabies. These pets will require a blood test at least 30 days after vaccination to check antibody levels, and there will be a 3-month wait prior to re-entry to the UK. There is no requirement for tick treatment prior to UK entry, but tapeworm treatment will be required for dogs only. Again, the pet has to travel with an approved company on an authorised route. The rules for pets coming from unlisted countries and for species other than dogs, cats and ferrets will vary.

It does seem that the new regulations make it simpler for people to take their pets abroad, and to bring them back to the U.K., however, we would still advise that it is vital to think about the welfare implications of travelling with pets, such as stress, and also the importance of being aware of possible exotic diseases and parasitic infections which pets can be exposed to outside the U.K. The vets here can discuss possible prevention treatments dependent on the likely risk of coming across certain parasites e.g. ticks or tapeworms, or parasite vectors e.g. sandflies or mosquitoes in certain regions.

If you have any queries regarding the Pet Travel Scheme, please go to the GOV.UK website or contact the Pet Travel Scheme Helpline on 0370 241 1710. We have five L.V.I. vets (Local Veterinary Inspectors) at Holly House who can issue passports or export paperwork; Sarah Brown, Sara Ramsey, Holly McKinley, Charlotte Tuplin and Heather Chappell.

Further information:

BVA Animal Welfare Foundation Leaflet - Taking your pets abroad: Your guide to diseases encountered abroad.

Join our Pet Health Club to save 10% on the cost of your pet passport.