Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus Test
These viruses are prevalent and represent a major health risk to your kitten as well as other cats. We recommend that your kitten be screened for these diseases during his or her first exam. By performing this test at this time, we can guarantee that your new family member is free of these life-threatening diseases. Equally important, if your kitten eventually will be an indoor/outdoor cat, s/he will not be a source of infection to other cats in your household or your neighborhood. Please see the Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus handouts for more details.
FVRCP: All kittens should receive a series of FVRCP vaccines. (Feline Rhinotracheitis, Panleukopenia and Calici Virus) These are given typically at 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age. A booster vaccine is given one year later and then given every 3 years thereafter.
Rabies: A Rabies Vaccine is given at 12-16 weeks of age. This vaccination is repeated in one year. We administer a yearly feline-only Purevax Rabies Vaccine that is formulated to eliminate the risk of vaccine-related sarcomas. A 3-year Rabies Vaccine is also available for adult cats. Rabies vaccinations are required by law
Feline Leukemia: If your kitten may be an indoor/outdoor cat, a series of two Feline Leukemia Vaccines is recommended between 8 and 16 weeks of age. This vaccination is repeated annually and always can be discontinued if your cat, with age, becomes an indoor only pet.
*FIV: There is a vaccine available for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). To date, this vaccine has not yet been proven to be highly effective, and we are not recommending the FIV vaccine at this time.
Spaying and Neutering
An ovariohysterectomy (spay) or castration (neuter) is recommended at about 5 to 6 months of age. Spaying prevents mammary cancer and pyometra (an infected uterus) in your aging female cat. Neutering a male cat will lessen the chance of urine marking (spraying) in the house. Also, as responsible pet owners, you will help decrease the numbers of stray and feral cat colonies.
We can microchip your kitten or cat by injecting a microchip with a permanent identification number underneath the skin between the shoulder blades. This will stay with your pet for its entire life and can be used to safely return your pet to you if they should go astray. It is easiest to inject the microchip while your cat is under anesthesia during the spay or neuter surgery, but we can do it anytime.
Fewer than 5% of cats in animal shelters are ever reunited with their owners. Collars with identifications tags are also a good first step but can be lost or fall off. We recommend microchips.
Intestinal parasites, including roundworms, hookworms, coccidia, whipworms, tapeworms and giardia, are a very common problem among kittens and indoor/outdoor cats. Worms and parasites may cause diarrhea or vomiting. Kittens are infected with intestinal parasites while they are in their mother’s womb or while they are nursing. Adult indoor/outdoor cats are at risk for getting parasites through flea bites and by snacking on what they hunt. We recommend that a fresh fecal sample be checked for the presence of parasites during your first and second kitten visit and then at least yearly. Some intestinal parasites can be zoonotic (passed to humans). Clean the litter box daily and wash your hands afterwards.
The most commonly found external parasites in this area are fleas and ticks. There are a variety of products available for flea and tick control, including Revolution, Revolution Plus and Bravecto for cats. We will help you decide which one will be the best to use on your kitten or cat.
Flea prevention in cats can help to prevent Feline Infectious Anemia, a bacterial infection transmitted by fleas that can be life threatening for cats. Cats can also become infected with the bacteria that causes Lyme disease from deer ticks, but they rarely develop any symptoms of the disease.
Never use a product on a cat that is intended solely for use in dogs. Permethrins in canine products can be FATAL to cats. Never use a dog product on your cat!
Feeding and Nutrition
We recommend that you feed a high quality kitten food (Growth Formula) for the first 6 months to 1 year of your kitten’s life. We can suggest some brands of high-quality kitten and cat foods if you are having trouble picking a food for your pet. For a kitten, the food should be fed free-choice rather than on a strict feeding schedule. Adult cats should eat wet food (as well as dry if desired) and will need to have measured amounts to prevent obesity. Food puzzles for cats and kittens are an excellent way for cats to play while they eat – this can help with weight control for older indoor cats and provide mental stimulation.
When cats are socialized with humans as young kittens, they are more social as adults. Holding and handling your kitten gently as well as playing will help your kitten to learn to be social. Cats and kittens are natural hunters and require opportunities to play and “capture” their prey. Interactive play with wands and other toys at least 12 inches away from hands and feet help to teach kittens to play without biting and scratching. Never use your hands as toys. Additionally, kittens can be encouraged and trained to use a scratching post rather than damaging rugs and furniture.
Cats and kittens also require safe places to relax in their home such as a cat tree, cardboard box or window bench. Cats should have easy access to environmental resources like their litterbox, scratching areas and food, without feeling chased or worried by other pets or family members.