Kittens undergo three series of vaccinations given three weeks apart their first year, followed by boosters every year thereafter. Pediatric vaccinations are tailored to each individual kitten’s lifestyle and should begin at 9 weeks of age. These vaccinations include FVRCP combination (Panleukopenia, Rhinotracheitis, and Calicivirus), FeLV (feline leukemia), and rabies.
Feline Leukemia and FIV (feline aids) test:
Feline leukemia and feline aids are highly contagious viruses that can remain latent for years before becoming symptomatic. This is an in-clinic blood test that can be performed at any time, although should be done as soon as possible. This test is highly recommended for all kittens or cats obtained as strays or from an unknown background such as a shelter.
Many intestinal parasites are zoonotic, meaning that they can be passed from animal to people. This can be easily prevented by practicing good hygiene and having your pet’s feces tested for parasites. A fecal sample analysis (a lab test to detect intestinal parasite eggs using your pet’s fresh feces) will usually detect most common parasites with the exception of tapeworms. All kittens will be dewormed at each kitten vaccination visit. The most common intestinal parasite in our area include:
- Roundworms, Hookworms , and Whipworns- Transferred through the mother’s milk or contaminated soil. These are controlled by environmental sanitation and treatment of all affected animals.
- Tapeworms- Transferred through the ingestion of fleas or infected meat (like mice, squirrels, and rabbits). These are very difficult to diagnose with a routine fecal analysis and are most often seen as “sesame seeds” or “dried rice granules” on the cat’s rear or feces. Tapeworms are controlled with proper flea control and deworming.
- Coccidia and Giardia- Transferred through contaminated environment and controlled by environmental sanitation and treatment of all affected animals.
Flea and Tick Control
Flea and tick control is very important to your cat’s overall health. Fleas and ticks can cause life threatening anemia, allergic skin conditions, and carry potentially fatal blood borne diseases. Fleas can also give your pet tapeworms. Western Veterinary Hospital strongly suggests using a topical parasite control all year round. Many parasites will enter your home and live comfortably throughout the winter.
- Treating the animal:
- Treating the environment:
Advantage Multi is a good choice for indoor cats. This topical product treats fleas, roundworms, hookworms, ear mites, and heartworms. It does NOT treat ticks. Frontline Plus is a good choice for outdoor cats. This topical product treats fleas, flea eggs, and ticks.
For flea and tick infestations, it is highly recommended to treat both the home and the yard with an insecticide. This should be performed at least two months in a row in order to kill all life cycles of parasites. Individuals may contact a professional to perform this service for you or you may ask our staff about Siphotrol Premise Spray and Siphotrol Yard Spray.
Heartworms are deadly. Heartworm disease spreads when mosquitoes bite and infected animal and then bite your pet. Since mosquitoes can come indoors, all cats are at risk. Both topical and oral heartworm preventatives are available (Advantage Multi and Interceptor are good examples) and should be given year round. Unlike dogs, cats do not need to be tested prior to starting a heartworm preventative.
Cats may be spayed or neutered once they reach six months old. There are many benefits of pet sterilization. It eliminates uterine, ovarian, and testicular cancers and significantly decreases the risk of breast and prostate cancer. It prevents unwanted pregnancy and eliminates heat cycle. It can also reduce the urge to roam or fight and to mark their territory with urine spraying. A cat may be declawed after three months of age. It is highly recommended that all declawed cats remain indoors only.
Cats can be fed either canned or dry food, or a combination of both. Although dry food will help contribute to less tartar accumulation on the teeth, leading to less dental disease. Cats can either be fed in allocated meals or be allowed to free feed throughout the day. Kittens require increased protein and nutrients from birth to 9-12 months of age and should be fed high quality kitten specific diet. Adult cats are less active than kittens and should be fed a high quality kitten specific diet. The top four food companies that we recommended are: Hill’s Science Diet, Iams/Eukanuba, Royal Canin, and Purina (e.g. Cat or Kitten Chow, Pro Plan, and Purina ONE).
Food and water dishes should be washed with soap and water regularly. Most cats benefit from a good brushing. This will remove and loose, dead hair from the undercoat and help control shedding and hairballs. Kitty litter should be cleaned out daily and changed out completely at least weekly to decrease contract with feces and urine. One litter box per cat is recommended. Proper cleaning of the litter box can deter inappropriate elimination. A healthy diet keeps teeth clean and gums healthy. However, plaque will inevitably build up so have your cat’s teeth regularly checked by a veterinarian. Between visits, you can brush your pet’s teeth with a special fluoride free toothpaste made just for cats and a soft toothbrush. Kittens will begin to lose their baby teeth between 3-6 months old. These teeth will gradually fall out and be replaced with permanent teeth.