Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Kitten Care Basics: Medical

We've all heard that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that is especially true when it comes to kittens. Proper preventive medical care in early feline life sets the stage for a lifetime of good health.

At Cat's Meow Veterinary Clinic we recommend a series of three well-kitten visits at 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age. For kittens presented for the first time before or after 8 weeks, we can tailor a schedule based on individual criteria.

First visit: We recommend bringing in all newly acquired kittens within a few days of obtaining them. In the case of bottle babies this is sometimes as early as a few days of age.

8 week visit: First FVRCP (distemper and upper respiratory) vaccination, first parasite treatment (for fleas, ear mites, roundworms, hookworms).

12 week visit: Second FVRCP vaccination, first FeLV (feline leukemia virus) vaccination, second parasite treatment, and screening tests for FeLV (feline leukemia virus) and FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus).

16 week visit: Third FVRCP vaccination, second FeLV vaccination, and a one-year Rabies vaccination.

6 months: Best age to spay females

8 months: Best age to neuter males

During these very important first examinations, you should take the opportunity to discuss any health or behavior concerns you might have. We generally spend some time discussing housing, nutrition, safety, and behavioral issues.

Obviously, if your kitten is listless, not eating enthusiastically, or has any coughing, sneezing, vomiting, diarrhea, or does not seem to be growing properly, you should bring it in before the next scheduled preventive care visit. Kittens have very little energy reserve or ability to fight disease on their own, so prompt intervention is critical if they become ill.

Remember, we want your kitten to grow up healthy and have a long life, and the best time to lay the groundwork is right at the start.