New Kitten Care
Congratulations on your new kitten! Your initial visit with your new kitten is important. Since a lot of information will be covered, you may wish to review these notes.
1. Vaccinations/ Viral diseases
- FVRCP (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calici, and Panleukopenia)
- This vaccine is commonly referred to as the “distemper/ upper respiratory complex” combination vaccine. We recommend the first dose be given from 6-10 weeks of age and then repeated in 3-4 weeks. After a booster in one year this vaccine is repeated every 3 years.
- Rabies vaccine is recommended for all cats. Most exposure to the Rabies virus in this area occurs indoors from bats. The first vaccine is given when the kitten is at least 12 weeks of age, boosters are annual.
- Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)
This contagious retrovirus is a leading cause of death in cats. It is transmitted from cat to cat by licking or biting and may be passed from the mother cat to her kittens during pregnancy. We recommend all cats be tested for FeLV. Strictly indoor cats do not require FeLV vaccinations. The FeLV vaccine is first given around 9 weeks of age, repeated in 3-4 weeks then annually.
- Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
- This is another retrovirus, and is in the same class as the human AIDS virus. We recommend all new cats be tested for FIV. This virus causes an immune deficiency syndrome in cats and is primarily spread by bite wounds. FIV vaccine is available but is not recommended. NOTE: THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT EITHER FELV OR FIV POSE A HUMAN HEALTH RISK.
- Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)
- FIP is a viral disease of cats that, once contracted, is almost invariably fatal. A nasal drop vaccine is available but its efficacy is controversial. We do not recommend FIP vaccination.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that dry kibble diets may not be as beneficial to feline health as we once thought. In fact, eating canned cat food may be preferable. Whatever form of diet is fed, it is best to meal feed. Cats fed dry food free choice frequently become obese, and obesity may have serious health consequences. As far as brands are concerned, we would recommend selecting major recognizable brand names like Science Diet, Purina One, Purina Pro Plan, Friskies and Iams. Science Diet Oral Care is helpful in preventing dental disease in adult cats, and is appropriate as part of the diet for some cats.
3. Litter Box
Most kittens take to the litter box naturally. Either scoop type litter or clay litters are acceptable. With the scoop litters both urine and feces are scooped away and disposed of daily. Clay litters should be completely changed every few days as the urine will saturate the litter. We don’t recommend the scented litters because some cats are sensitive to the chemicals they contain. Do not use the scoopable cat litters if your cat or kitten is inclined to eat the litter. It may be necessary to experiment with different types of litter as some cats may have preferences. The litter box should be located reasonably close to where the cat spends his/her time, but not too close to the food. There should be one litter box per cat up to a reasonable number.
4. External Parasites (fleas)
Most of the cats and kittens we see being adopted have at least a few fleas. Revolution is an easy to use and very effective topical treatment that will control fleas, mites and internal parasites on cats and kittens 8 weeks of age or older. Comprehensive flea control includes treatment of the environment (house) as well. We have an effective area spray for this purpose. Daily vacuuming may be appropriate for a severe flea infestation.
5. Internal Parasites (worms)
We recommend routinely worming your kitten for roundworms (ascarids). This is done at the time of the initial vaccination visits. A fecal analysis should also be done to check for other parasite eggs. Tapeworms can be picked up at any time through the ingestion of an infected flea or rodent. The rice-like or sesame seed-like segments are usually noted by the owner. Tapeworms are treated by either pill or injection. The only prevention is flea control.
6. Ovariohysterectomy (spay)
Spaying a cat prior to the first heat cycle will minimize the chances of mammary cancer in the older cat. We therefore recommend that in cats not intended for breeding the ovariohysterectory (spay) be performed at 5-6 months of age.
7. Castration (neuter)
Almost all cat owners neuter male cats to help prevent spraying, roaming, fighting etc. Feline AIDS (FIV virus) is quite common in free-roaming un-neutered male cats because this virus is transmitted in saliva via bite wounds. We recommend male cats not intended for breeding be neutered at 6-9 months of age.
8. Dental Care
Many veterinarians feel that “appropriate dental care is the most important thing you can do to enhance quality to and lengthen your pet’s life.” Certain diets such as Science Diet Oral Care and prescription TD may be helpful in preventing periodontal disease. Periodic professional cleanings are necessary for some cats. We will check the condition of your cat’s oral cavity and recommend appropriate care at your regularly scheduled exam. NOTE: Regular dry food does not clean your cats teeth and may even contribute to serious resorptive lesions.
9. Cat Toys
There are many varieties of commercial toys available for cats, and most of the time these are fine. Ribbons, needles with thread attached, and other linear objects can cause serious problems when ingested by your cat and should be avoided.
Cats are very intelligent animals but enjoy their independence and are therefore not as eager to please as are most dogs. This does not mean they cannot be taught! Cats usually respond to repeated enforced messages like “get down!” (for a cat on the table) or removing the cat. Loud noises like banging on the table help. Repetition and consistency are the keys here as these things are a battle of wills. Put your food away so there will be no added incentive to get on the table. Positive reinforcement with verbal praise and petting for desired behavior helps. Food treats can be helpful. Cats do not respond well to physical punishment; this is likely to cause more problems than it solves. Some cats respond to being squirted with water from a squirt gun. It is important that the cat not associate you with the water, so don’t let it see you doing this if possible. Scratching posts should be introduced immediately, as your cat must scratch on something. Catnip and positive reinforcement encourage this natural requirement.
We recommend some kind of identification for all pets. We offer Home Again microchip permanent identification given by a simple injection during an office visit. (See section on Microchipping.) Visit www.homeagain.com to find out more.
We strongly encourage you to always bring your cat here in a carrier. Traveling is unnatural to cats; they are very insecure outside of their personal territory and can become frightened and get lost. There are many excellent carriers, ones with top-loading features are best.
For after hours emergencies contact either: (1) SVS Downtown at 206-624-9111 (2) ACCES in Lake City at 206-364-1660 or (2) AMCS in Shoreline at 206-204-3366. These are all 24 hour emergency/critical care/referral centers and provide excellent care.
It is our goal to provide you with the highest quality services and information so you can have the best possible relationship with your cat. Please call us if we can help you in any way.