Preventative Care for Kittens

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People always ask us veterinarians, "What would you do if it was your kitten?" Well, the list below summarizes what we would do to keep our kitten healthy.

Choosing a Healthy Kitten

1. When possible, try to examine the entire litter of kittens. If one kitten is sneezing, has diarrhea, or has runny eyes or nose, assume the entire litter is infected.

2. Kittens should be active, have thick glossy coats, and not be bony.

3. AVOID PET STORES!! Kittens are overpriced, have poor conformation, ear mites, respiratory infection and coccidiosis unless proven otherwise. These kittens are often dumped at the pet stores by breeders when they can’t sell them themselves.

4. Avoid adopting a kitten less than 6 weeks old.

5. Most "barn" litters will have ear mites causing black coffee ground-like material in the ears, but ear mites are easily treated with 2 applications of Revolution and some ear drops if the infection is severe.

6. Healthy kittens typically gain 1 pound each month. Use this when trying to estimate a kitten's age. An eight week old kitten that weighs 1 lb is ill and should be avoided.

7. Try not to adopt any kitten under 6 weeks of age or 1 1/2 lbs.

Vaccinations

1. Kittens are commonly vaccinated for feline parvo, herpes, and calici viruses, chlamydia pneumomitis, bordetella, feline leukemia and rabies. Additionally, vaccines for FIP and Ringworm are given in multiple cat households. We will develop a vaccination schedule that is appropriate for your kitten’s life style.

2. Vaccines are started at 6-8 weeks, then repeated every 4 weeks of age until last given after twelve weeks of age.

3. To maintain immunity, vaccination is repeated annually for all feline diseases.

4. People often don’t think that cats need rabies vaccination. However, over the last 3 years more people have been exposed to rabies from cats in the United States than dogs. Even if your cat is inside, mice, rats, and bats do get into your home and your “mouser” will find them. Please have your cat vaccinated yearly for rabies.

Parasite Control

1. There are five common intestinal parasites that infect cats: roundworms, tapeworms, coccidia, hookworms and lungworms.

2. No drug will eliminate all 5 types. A sample bowel movement is examined microscopically to determine which parasite is present. Then, appropriate medication can be given to eliminate the parasites. It is important to note that “store bought” wormers only kill the parasite roundworms.

3. Please bring in a sample the first time your kitten uses a litter box even if vaccinations are not yet due. Several of these parasites are also transmittable to people.

4. Fecal exams should be performed annually.

Declaw

1. Declawing is necessary only if your kitten is destroying valuable furnishings.

2. To dispel some rumors about declawing: a) Declawing is not extremely painful to the kitten particularly if done prior to six months of age. Most kittens are running and playing as usual the next day. b) Declawing does not prevent a cat from catching mice, birds, etc... c) Declawing does nothing to a cats' personality. d) Front declawed cats can defend themselves pretty well (I have the scars to prove it).

3. Cats can be declawed anytime after 10 weeks, but recovery is much faster the younger the kitten is when done.

4. The front feet are usually the only ones done, however all 4 are often done to prevent climbing. It is important to note that a cat with a 4 paw declaw should not be an outside cat.

Bringing a Kitten Home

1. If you already have a house full of felines, isolate your new addition for two weeks in a separate room with its own litterbox and food. This is important for disease prevention as well as letting the new arrival get use to its new surroundings.

2. After your cats are use to each other's scents and sounds, open the door and let them get acquainted at there own pace. If problems arise contact us for some useful handouts concerning feline behavior.

3. Kittens naturally use a litter box so housebreaking problems are rare.

4. Plan to spend 15-20 minutes several times a day playing with a new kitten to establish a good relationship. FELINE VIRAL DISEASES The American Association of feline Practioners recommends testing all kittens for Feline Leukemia, FIV (Feline AIDS), and Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). We suggest testing 8-12 week old kittens at their first visit for Feline Leukemia. Older cats should be tested for all 3 diseases at their first visit.

Diet

1. Kittens should be fed a high quality dry kitten food freely until 6 months old. Very young or orphan kittens should have kitten chow softened with KMR (kitten milk replacement).

2. After 6 months, we recommend cats be fed a magnesium restricted, low PH diet to prevent Feline Urologic Syndrome.

3. CATS ARE CARNIVORES! We recommend a meat based grain-free diet. The first ingredient should be a meat or meat meal and the remaining ingredients should not contain a lot of corn or wheat.

4. Nutrical vitamin suppliment should be given to thin and weak kittens and to supplement lower quality commercial diets in healthy kittens.

5. Milk may cause diarrhea in older kittens since they lose the ability to digest milk sugar after weaning.

Spaying and Castrating

1. We recommend spaying and castrating all kittens at 6 months of age.

2. Spaying benefits you and your pet by: a) Preventing unwanted pregnancies. b) All but eliminating the chance of developing breast cancer. c) Preventing unwanted behavior associated with the heat cycle.

3. Castrating benefits you and your pet by: a) Preventing unwanted pregnancies. b) Preventing objectionable male behavior: roaming, aggressiveness, fights, and urine marking.

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