When you purchase your new kitten, inquire about any vaccines or de-worming medications that they may have received. You will want to ask what type of medication or vaccine was given, as well as the dates given.
In general, most kittens start their booster series around 8 weeks of age. If you have a stray kitten we will try to assess the age and determine when to start vaccines.
Feline Leukemia Virus (FELV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) Testing
We recommend testing all kittens (8 weeks of age or older) and all new cats with unknown status. Cats with these diseases are more prone to infections because they will have a suppressed immune system (not be able to fight infections as well). Both these diseases are contagious to other cats and can be passed from mom to the kittens.
We also recommend testing not only to know the status of your kitten but before vaccinating your kitten for FELV. The vaccine will only help to prevent the disease it will not treat the disease.
Vaccines for kittens:
FDRC: Feline Rhinotracheitis Calicivirus & Panleukopenia
FELV: Feline Leukemia Virus
This will be given as a booster series (2 vaccines given 3 to 4 weeks apart) the first year and then 1 vaccine every year thereafter.
Rabies: Given at 12 weeks of age or older
The first time this is given the vaccine is good for 1 year and then it is given every 3 years. This vaccine is required by law.
The above are the core vaccines that we do at our hospital.
Why does my kitten need vaccines?
Vaccines help to protect your pet from viruses that can cause serious illnesses. These viruses can be shed from other pets, stray animals, and wildlife.
1) Rhinotracheitis (Feline herpes virus): One of two common viruses that can cause chronic upper respiratory problems in cats. The more common signs are sneezing, and discharge from the eyes and nose. Once infected the virus can lay dormant and reactivate with stress (similar to cold sores in people). This virus is not contagious to people but is easily spread to other cats and kittens.
2) Calicivirus: One of two common viruses that can cause chronic upper respiratory problems in cats. This virus can also cause ulcers in the mouth.
3) Panleukopenia/parvovirus: Virus that attacks the intestinal tract and can cause fever, not eating, vomiting, profuse diarrhea and in severe cases death.
4) Rabies: Virus causes behavioral and neurologic problems and is always fatal.
These usually live in your kitten’s intestinal system and are usually detected with a fecal exam. Most of these worms are passed from Mom to the kittens but can also be from the environment.
If your kitten has worms then it may have vomiting or diarrhea.
Roundworms: Thin, spaghetti-like worms that you may see in your kitten’s stool.
Hookworms: This worm can cause bloody stools.
Tapeworms: Small, rice-like segments may be seen in your kitten’s stool or around the hind end. These are usually due to fleas, so check your kitten for fleas.
Coccidia: Protozoa that can live in different areas of the intestines. Can cause watery, sometimes bloody diarrhea.
All of these parasites can be treated with oral medications.
These parasites live on or in your kitten’s skin.
Fleas: These will cause your kitten to itch. You can see individual fleas or evidence of fleas such as red bumps (flea bites) or black pepper-like debris in the fur (flea dirt). Some cats are such good groomers that the only evidence of fleas is tapeworms (see above). You will need to treat your kitten for fleas but also need to treat any other pets in the house. Also, fleas only spend part of their time on your pets the rest of the time they live your house. You will need to clean and possibly treat THE ENVIRONMENT!!!
Ticks: Certain ticks transmit diseases when they bite your kitten. Ticks will attach to your kitten and fill with blood. You can remove the tick by grasping the head with a pair tweezers. Make sure you get the head out.
These parasites can be treated and prevented with topical medications.
NEVER USE A FLEA PREVENTIVE UNLESS IT SAYS APPROVED FOR CATS!!
Some flea treatments for dogs have an ingredient that will cause your kitten/cat to seizure and possibly die!!! Some over the counter medications
are too harsh or too strong for kittens or cats.
You also need to be cautious of internet purchases.
PLEASE ASK the Veterinarian first!!
Ringworm: This is a fungus that causes bare spots of the fur. The area can be circular or irregularly shaped with some crusty or flaky skin. Many times there will be lesions or white flaky powder attached to the fur especially the ears. These lesions are usually not itchy but THESE ARE CONTAGIOUS TO HUMANS and other pets.
Demodex: There are two types of mites that can cause a problem in cats. The mites live in the hair follicle of your kitten. An infection with this mite can lead to patchy bald spots, red or crusty skin. Your cat may be scratching, but infection with these mites is not always itchy. These can be contagious to your other pets.
Feline Scabies: This mite lives in the skin and will burrow through your kitten’s skin causing severe itching. Your kitten/cat will have dry crusty lesions that usually appear first on the ears. Eventually as the infection spreads your kitten’s skin will have bald spots and become thickened. THESE ARE CONTAGIOUS TO HUMANS and other pets.
Ear mites: These mites live inside the ear canal. They will cause scratching and pawing at the ears. You will usually see a dry, black, material in the ears. These are contagious to your other pets.
Feeding your kitten
What should I feed my kitten?
Any commercial kitten food should be okay for your pet. There are three things that you want to check on the bag:
1. AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officers) approved, this should be on the back of the bag
2. Meets the requirements for growth of kittens
3. Contact information for the company that makes the food
All the major pet food companies will have this information on their bags.
How much food should I feed my kitten?
– Most companies will tell you how much food to feed your kitten since each food is different in calories. It is okay to follow the bag recommendations for your kitten but when you feed them adult food DO NOT FOLLOW the instructions on the bag.
– Measure the food with an 8 oz measuring cup, so that you know the amount of food your kitten/cat is eating.
– When your cat is neutered/spayed, you will want to cut back the food by 20% and get them onto an adult cat food.
How many times a day should I feed my kitten?
– Most kittens up to 16 weeks of age can be fed 3 times a day
– After 16 weeks you can feed twice a day
How should I feed my kitten?
– Every cat in the house should have its own food bowl and water bowl. Communal bowls are not a good idea.
– Meal feeding is the best way to feed to a cat. Free choice feeding for cats can lead to overweight, even obese cats.
Things NOT to feed your kitten, some of these are toxic to animals!!!!!
Yeast dough Fatty foods
MEDICATION NEVER TO BE GIVEN TO KITTENS/CATS
Acetaminophen (Tylenol, Midol, etc) Pepto Bismol
Ibuprofen (Advil, etc) Kaopectate
Naproxen (Aleve) Fleet enemas
These can KILL your kitten or cat
Always check with a veterinarian or go to the following website if you are not sure if a food, medicine, or substance is toxic.
Website: www.aspca.org Click on the animal poison control link.
Do not give your cat over the counter pain medication without checking with a veterinarian.
Plants can also hurt your kitten/cat
Lilies (all of the and every part of the plant)
All the above plants and flowers are toxic to your cat and in some cases can lead to death.
Other toxic plants and flowers can be found at www.aspca.org go to Animal poison control and then toxic plants.
Recommend book for new kitten owners:
“Think Like a Ca”t by Pam Johnson-Bennett
We recommend all kittens be spayed or neutered at 6 months of age. If you are going to declaw your kitten, we recommend this be done at the same time.