Your New Kitten – First Visit
Congratulations on the arrival of your new kitten. It is our hope that we may help you have many years of companionship and fun with your pet. At this age it is the time to address many of the preventive care measures that will help promote a long, healthy life for your new friend.
Kittens require a series of vaccinations to insure protection against the most common diseases of cats. This is necessary for several reasons but the most important is the passive immunity that kittens acquire from their mothers. Early in their life kittens receive antibodies directly from their mother that helps protect them during the critical first weeks of life. The level of antibody will fall gradually as the kitten grows and develops and may be different for each kitten. These antibodies must decline below a certain level before the kitten can respond to vaccines and develop his own specific immune response. We try to encourage the early development of this response. The series of vaccinations is designed to give immunity at the earliest age following the loss of passive immunity from the animal's mother. It is for this reason it is very important to complete the series of boosters and for the boosters to come at the right time. If for any reason your personal schedule prevents you from bringing your kitten in at the proper intervals, please contact our office and explain your situation so that we may advise you on what the best solution may be.
We recommend testing all cats or kittens brought into a new home for Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). These are life threatening viral infections that can be transmitted between cats or directly from the mother cat in utero in the case of Feline Leukemia, or through bite wounds in the case of FIV. Not all cats show clinical signs of illness early in the disease, but they can still transmit the disease to other cats. Testing should be done prior to starting your kitten on its Feline Leukemia series to prevent against unnecessary vaccinations should your pet be positive for the disease. Unfortunately at this time there is not a good FIV vaccine.
One of the most rapidly developing areas of knowledge in pet preventive health care is the subject of proper nutrition. In recent years, it is rare to see nutritional deficiencies in pets that are fed modern cat foods, but of increasing concern to veterinarians is the subject of excesses in the diet. While deficiencies present themselves early in the pet's life in the form of growth or developmental problems, excesses may be present for years before they manifest themselves in health problems. We recommend the Science Diet line of foods due to the manufacturers commitment to research and development of a food that has nutrient precision (a diet that has neither deficiencies nor excesses) and is appropriate for each stage of the pet's life.
The current research suggests that an excess of daily calories may also shorten the pet's life and cause development of disease at an earlier age. Diabetes is highly preventable and other diseases that may not be prevented can be delayed until later in life. It is important to remember that even when feeding a high quality diet, that the benefits may be offset by overfeeding or supplementation with table food or treats. We no longer consider an animal whose ribs are showing to be below optimum body condition if muscle mass is adequate and the quality of the skin and hair coat is good.
When worms are discussed in conjunction with preventative health care in cats, most people think of intestinal parasites. Heartworms are different parasites that slowly grow within the right chambers of the heart and the blood vessels of the lungs. Years ago it was thought that only dogs got heartworms, but we are now finding out that cats are being infected as well (many of which are considered indoor only cats). Heartworm disease spreads when mosquitoes bite a dog that has been previously infected, siphon up the microscopic heartworm offspring, then bite another animal. Heartworms are particularly dangerous because often animals do not show evidence of the disease until they have been present for months. Heartworm preventatives work by stopping the microscopic larva soon after being injected from the mosquito bite before they have arrived in the heart or began to do damage. As these larvae mature they become progressively more difficult to kill, this is why heartworm preventatives must be used regularly (once monthly) to effectively prevent the disease. Because heartworm disease affects cats differently than dogs, a blood test is not required before starting the prevention. However, it is recommended that heartworm prevention in kittens begin before 4 months of age to be assured that the kitten is negative at the time the medication is started.
Flea prevention is very important for many reasons. Fleas can make an animal anemic, act as a carrier for tapeworms, and are a contributing factor in many skin diseases (including allergy to flea bites). Fleas can be a particularly bothersome parasite because of their ability to reproduce so quickly. One adult female flea can produce up to fifty eggs each day. Because fleas can be present for many days before they are noticed, modern flea control is aimed at controlling reproduction of the flea as well as killing the adult fleas. This is truly a case where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Once fleas become established in your pet's environment it can take weeks to eliminate them.
Heartworm and Flea Preventatives
Revolution: This is the number one choice in heartworm and flea medications for cats in our practice. In addition to preventing against heartworm disease it also kills adult fleas, flea eggs, and ear mites, deworms your cat monthly for hookworms and roundworms, and protects against the sarcoptic mange mite. This medication is applied topically at the base of the neck once monthly and is absorbed into the skin so that protection will not be lost with self-grooming.