Keeping up with your pet’s healthcare is the most important thing you can do for your kitten. Attending all biannual/annual check ups, keeping up on vaccines and monthly flea, heartworm, and intestinal parasite prevention medications, and having all veterinary recommended bloodwork done to monitor any internal charges will give your kitten the best chance at a long and healthy life.
A physical exam is important because it gives the veterinarian a chance to thoroughly examine your pet from nose to tail and to see if there are any changes or abnormalities in your pet’s overall health. Each of the following body systems are examined:
- Musculoskeletal system: Checks body condition score (BCS), any limping or abnormalities with movement
- Ears/Eyes: Checks for abnormalities such as infection, debris, and inflammation.
- Neurologic: Check overall attitude; kittens should be bright, alert, responsive.
- Skin: Check for any external parasites, rash, infection, etc.
- Respiratory: Makes sure lungs are clear with normal respiratory rate.
- Heart: No heart abnormalities and normal heart rate.
- Urogenital: Check urinary system and genitalia for any abnormalities.
- Lymph Nodes: Check enlargement of lymph nodes.
If your pet seems have pain, your veterinarian will discuss this with you at the time of your visit.
Keeping up to date with vaccines is a very important part of your kitten’s overall health. Vaccines help prevent contagious and sometimes fatal diseases. They are a very important and necessary addition to your kitten’s natural defenses.
We recommend a feline leukemia/FIV test at your kitten’s first visit.
- Felv invades and replicates in various cells of the cats immune system and blood forming tissues as well as other cells. Results of this can cause death of a cell or a change in its genetic code. These changes can potentially make the cell cancerous.
- FIV- Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (feline version of Aids). This virus reduces the ability of the cats immune system to respond to other infections.
There is not a cure for either of these viruses. This is why we recommend a test for any kitten and/or any new cat that you bring into your home. These viruses are spread through saliva, therefore keep multiple cats separated until they are all tested.
Vaccines are usually started at 6-9 weeks of age and are only effective if given at fixed dates with booster vaccinations as recommended by your veterinarian until 12-16 weeks old. Vaccines should only be given by a licensed veterinarian. Vaccines administered by a breeder or given at a shelter or pet store may not be effective. (This is typically because the vaccines are coming from facilities that don’t ship fast enough and the higher or lower temperatures in shipping will deactivate the vaccine.) All documentation should be thoroughly inspected by your veterinarian.
Diseases We Vaccinate For:
- Rhinotracheitis: Infectious disease caused by feline herpesvirus..
- Calicivirus: Virus that causes upper respiratory infection and oral disease in cats.
- Chlamydophilosis: Unusual bacterium that lives and multiplies inside the body cells of the cat.
- Panleukopenia: Caused by a virus of the parvovirus family. This is one of the toughest viruses known. A cause of infectious tracheobronchitis. This is often a mild respiratory infection.
- Leukemia: A retrovirus that is transmitted through saliva and nasal secretions of a cat. This virus has no cure.
- Rabies: A virus that is almost always fatal and attacks the nervous system. It is transmitted chiefly through the bite of an infected animal. This is almost always fatal to people as well. Based on individual county’s guidelines, your cat may be required to have a rabies vaccination. You can call your county’s Department of Health and they will tell you if a rabies vaccination is required in your county.
Deciding whether to spay or neuter your pet is an important choice which must be considered carefully. These are major operations and require general anesthesia. However, with pre-anesthetic bloodwork, modern anesthetics, and surgical monitoring, the risk of complications is low.
These surgical procedures remove the reproductive organs (ovaries and uterus in females, testicles in males). For females, the procedure is called an ovariohysterectomy or spay. For males, the procedure is called a castration or neuter. For routine spaying/neutering, the best age for dogs and cats is before puberty (between 4-6 months). Recovery is usually 5-7 days, with normal exercise and routine resumed approximately 1 week after surgery.
Advantages of Spaying:
- Prevention of “heat cycle” or estrus
- Reduces risk of roaming behaviors
- Eliminates possibility of false pregnancy following “heat cycle”
- Prevention of pyometra (uterine infection)
- Prevention of breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers
- Prevents unwanted litters
- Eliminates strange male cats in your yard while “in heat”.
Spaying Can Be Performed for Medical Reasons:
- Treatment of intractable false pregnancies
- Ovarian cysts
- Correct certain behavior problems
- Treatment of pyometra (uterine infection)
- Dystocia (difficult birthing) or post caesarean-section surgery
Advantages of Neutering:
- Reduces risk of prostate cancer or prostatitis
- Reduces the risk of hormone-related diseases such as perianal adenoma
- Eliminates the risk of testicular cancer
- Removal of sexual urges
- Reduces the risk of roaming behaviors and fighting with other cats
- Reduction of certain types of aggression
- Reduces or eliminates marking from other males
- Eliminates unwanted litters
- Eliminates the spread of sexually transmitted diseases
Other Facts of Spaying/Neutering:
- Does not cause a change in personality
- Does not affect the cat’s intelligence
- Does not change their playfulness
- Does not change the affection that your cat may give
Once your pet has been spayed/neutered, you may have to regulate your cat’s diet and caloric intake to prevent obesity. Contact your veterinarian if you believe that your cat is gaining weight and he/she can work up a dietary plan.
Besides the many behavioral and medical reasons for spaying/neutering, population control in pet animals is very important and well understood by most people. By spaying/neutering your pet, you will contribute to your community by not adding any unwanted litters.
Parasites and Prevention:
These parasites feed on blood, causing itching and irritation. Some cats are allergic to the bite (flea bite dermatitis) which can cause hair loss, skin infections, and inflammation of skin. One flea bite can last up to 10 days. Some medical problems caused by fleas are:
- Tapeworms (intestinal parasite)
- Skin conditions (inflammation, irritation, and infection)
- Death with heavy infestations
There are 4 life stages in the life cycle of a flea:
- Flea eggs – Adult fleas must feed before becoming capable of reproduction. After feeding, they will lay eggs. They can lay anywhere from 20-40 eggs each day. Initially the eggs are laid on the cat’s skin but fall off into the environment. Flea eggs constitute approximately 50% of the total population. High humidity and temperature favor rapid hatching. After 14-28 days the eggs hatch into flea larvae
- Flea larvae prefer warm and dark moist areas. They dislike bright light, and move deep into carpet fibers, under furniture, beds (if your pet sleeps with you), grass, branches, leaves and soil. Climate controlled homes offer an ideal environment for the flea larvae to live. They feed off of organic debris found in their environment and/or adult flea feces. After 1-2 weeks the larvae will weave into a silky cocoon. This is the flea pupae stage.
- Flea pupae can stay in the cocoon for another 1-2 weeks while the adult flea develops. Once in the cocoon the adult flea can live dormant for up to 9 months, until a host is present. However, this life cycle could hatch in as little as 5-10 days. While in the cocoon, this is the only stage that is resistant to insecticides. Once hatched from the cocoon, it is now an adult flea.
- The adult flea must feed within a few days in order to live. Once an adult female feeds, within 2 days she can start laying eggs. She will live approximately 3 weeks, laying eggs each day. This means that an adult female flea can lay up to almost 1,000 eggs in her lifetime. The entire life cycle from egg to adult can be completed in 14-28 days depending on environmental conditions.
Treatment for fleas include 3 different forms: preventing reproduction, halting the development of larvae, and killing the adult fleas. When treating, you will want to include your pet, house, and possibly yard.
Your cat does not have to go outside to get fleas. You or other pets can bring the fleas in your home.
These parasites are known carriers of dangerous diseases to both pets and humans. They transmit organisms that cause illnesses such as Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis,Babesiosis, and Tularemia. There are many different types of ticks and if they are on your pet, you want to get rid of them immediately. There are topical and collar products that your pet can wear to prevent ticks, but make sure to read all packaging labels before applying the product to your pet. The most effective product we know of is Revolution.
This parasite can be a source of deadly viruses and other medical problems such as heartworm disease. Heartworm prevention is necessary once a month, all year long. It only takes one mosquito to infect an unprotected cat, and 61-90% of cats exposed to infective larvae become infected with heartworm disease. This disease can cause heart and lung damage and even death.
Symptoms of heartworm disease: Coughing, lack of energy, difficulty breathing, intermittent vomiting, anorexia, weight loss, asthma like symptoms, and gagging. Heartworm disease in a cat can mimic other feline diseases.
These are tiny insects that live in the ear canal and feed by piercing the skin. Kittens can be infected by their mother while still in the nest.
Intestinal parasite transmitted by ingesting infected soil or fecal matter or by microscopic larvae penetrating through the pads on a cat’s feet. This parasite can be contracted by humans and animals.
Symptoms: Weight loss, anemia, and bloody diarrhea
Intestinal parasite transmitted by ingesting infected soil, fecal matter, or by eating infected animals such as rodents. This parasite can be contracted by humans and animals.
Symptoms: Diarrhea, vomiting, stunted growth, rough coat, and bloated belly
Intestinal parasite transmitted through ingestion of the eggs, usually through fecal matter. This parasite can live in the soil for up to 20 years.
Symptoms: Diarrhea, anemia, dehydration, and loss of appetite.
Intestinal parasite transmitted through eating wildlife or ingesting a flea. By keeping your kitten on a monthly parasite prevention, you can greatly reduce your kitten’s chance of contracting internal parasites.