Veterinary Care for Your New Kitten

66457_10151804908137288_461378704_nKitten Veterinary Care: What Does My Kitten Really Need?

There is nothing more exciting than bringing home a new member of the family. Kittens are extremely entertaining and cute, but can also be a lot of work. The following information is meant to be an introduction to the veterinary care that your kitten will need to grow into a happy, healthy cat.

The ideal age for your kitten’s first visit to the River Road Veterinary Clinic is 8 weeks, or whenever you bring him/her home. We will ask you to bring any vaccine history as well as a fecal sample to your kitten’s first appointment. Looking at a fecal sample will allow us to see if your kitten has any intestinal parasites (roundworms, tapeworms, etc.) which are extremely common. Regardless of the results of the fecal sample it is always a good idea to give your kitten a dewormer if he/she has not yet had one. The first component of your kitten’s visit will usually be a Feline Leukemia/Feline Immunodeficiency (FeLV/FIV) test. This involves drawing a few drops of blood and running a test to determine if your kitten has either of these incurable diseases. This test takes about 10 minutes to run. As long as your kitten is negative for these diseases the veterinarian will give him/her a complete physical examination and also a first Distemper (FVRCP) vaccine. The Distemper vaccine protects your cat against three contagious feline diseases including feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia. This vaccine should be boostered at 12 weeks and 16 weeks and then annually after that. At this point your kitten is also ready to start on a flea/tick prevention. Even indoor cats are susceptible to fleas since flea eggs can lay dormant inside a house for six months or more and adults/eggs can be carried into the house on people or other animals.

Your kitten’s second visit to the veterinarian should be at 12 weeks of age. If your kitten’s initial fecal test was positive for intestinal parasites a repeat test should be performed. The second Distemper vaccine as well as a Rabies vaccine will also be given. The Rabies vaccine is required by law and needs to be boostered annually. A second dose of flea/tick prevention will also be sent home with your kitten.

Your kitten’s third veterinary appointment should be at 16 weeks of age. At this time he/she will receive a physical examination and a final Distemper vaccine. If your cat will be an indoor/outdoor cat he/she should be vaccinated against Feline Leukemia. If your kitten will be indoors only, and not exposed to other cats who are indoor/outdoor cats this vaccination is not necessary. The first vaccination will be given at this appointment and then boostered in 3-4 weeks and annually after that. All cats who will be going outside should also be microchipped with a HomeAgain microchip. By giving your kitten permanent identification it greatly increases the chance that he/she will be returned home if they go missing.

Your kitten should then come back to River Road Veterinary Clinic at 20 weeks for his/her final Leukemia vaccine and another dose of flea/tick medication.

Six months is the ideal time to have your kitten spayed or neutered. Allowing your male cat to remain unneutered increases the likelihood that he will begin spraying/marking in and around your home as well as encourages fighting and other dominant aggressive behaviors. Allowing your female cat to remain intact allows for the possibility of her becoming pregnant and contributing to the overpopulation of cats/kittens in our shelters.

*Please keep in mind that these are general guidelines to vaccines and health care for your kitten. Each animal is an individual and this plan will be tailored to suit the individual needs of your family and your new kitten.

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