Whether you just adopted or purchased your new kitten, our experienced, highly trained team members are eager to help you keep your pet healthy and happy for a lifetime.
Depending on the age of your kitten and his or her medical history, (s)he may need to receive the entire kitten vaccine series or just one or two vaccines to complete the core series. Wherever (s)he is we will ensure your kitten is set up on the appropriate vaccination schedule.
After birth a kitten will receive immunoglobulins through its mother’s milk, however this immunity does not last long. It takes time for a kitten’s immune system to mature, which is why your kitten receives a series of vaccinations between 8-16 weeks of age and then boosters a year later. These vaccines protect your pet from potential life threatening diseases.
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FVRCP (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia)
This is a combination vaccine (3 in 1) and is commonly administered at 2-4 week intervals with the first given at 8-10 weeks old. The second is given at 10-12 weeks and the third at 12-15 weeks of age. Please remember that these time frames are generalizations and some kittens may need a slightly different schedule.
- Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis: A highly contagious airborne viral upper respiratory disease caused by herpes type 1, and is also known as feline influenza. This is very contagious and if left untreated can lead to pneumonia, which can be fatal to kittens.
- Calicivirus: A highly infectious airborne virus causing respiratory disease, and like rhinotracheitis, can lead to pneumonia and become fatal.
- Panleukopenia: A viral infection commonly known as feline distemper is generally spread by the passing of bodily fluids and primarily attacks the gastrointestinal system. Profuse bloody diarrhea causes acute dehydration, malnutrition and anemia, potentially leading to death. The immune system is often compromised causing further complication.
Rabies Vaccine – Required by New York State Law
One vaccine is given between 12-16 weeks old and a booster is given one year later, then again every three years thereafter to maintain immunity.
- Rabies: A deadly virus transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal. In North America this could be a skunk, raccoon, bat or any number of infected mammalian vectors.
FeLV (Feline Leukemia) Vaccine
When your kitten reaches 12 weeks of age, a blood test is performed to determine if it already harbors the disease. We will also be testing for a related illness; feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), which there is not yet a vaccine. If the test is negative, we will give the initial vaccine that day, and then administer a booster 2-4 weeks later. This vaccine should be administered yearly to booster prevention of feline leukemia.
- FeLV (Feline Leukemia): A deadly disease that is spread directly from cat to cat, and from mother cats to their kittens before or shortly after birth. As many as 40% of annual feline deaths are as a result of Feline Leukemia. It is highly infectious and most often transmitted from cat to cat through mating or a bite wound, but evidence shows that it may be passed between cats that share the same litter box or food bowls.
- FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus): A virus similar to the AIDS virus in humans, but it is not transmittable from humans to cats or visa versa. It can only be contracted through a bite wound or sexual contact from one cat to another. As yet, no vaccine exists for its prevention and there is no cure. Early detection will help owners prepare for the illnesses associated with this disease and the chance to protect other felines in the household.
After two years of age we recommend running antibody titers to help prevent over-vaccinating your pet. These are blood tests that measure the amount of antibodies to a particular disease in the blood. If the titer shows a low level of immunity, added protection is necessary, and we will administer a booster vaccination.
Approximately 95% of kittens contract intestinal parasites from their mothers. If left untreated these parasites can cause vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, anemia, stunted growth and even death. We recommend an intestinal parasite screening at the time of your kitten’s first visit with us, and then at least every 6 months with at home deworming at least every quarter. Guidelines set forth by the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) recommend even more frequent screenings.
Fleas can cause a range of problems, including skin redness, excessive scratching, anemia in puppies, allergic reactions to the flea saliva (considered one of the most irritating substances on Earth) or contraction of diseases carried by fleas.
Adult fleas are dark brown, about the size of a sesame seed. They live their entire adult lives on your pet and feed on their blood. Fleas can be picked up in the environment or through contact with an infected pet.
The adult female flea will start laying eggs daily (up to 50 a day). These eggs fall from your pet, landing on the carpet, furniture, dog bedding, and anywhere your pet goes. The eggs hatch within 4 weeks into worm-like larvae that burrow deeper into soft furnishings, carpet, and the nooks and crannies of your home. There the pupae produce a silk like cocoon and take 10 days to become adult fleas which only emerge when they sense pressure, carbon-dioxide (from breathing) or body heat. Once a flea emerges from a cocoon it can only survive a few days without feeding. However, cocooned fleas can survive up to 9 months in the environment! An adult flea with an ideal host can have a lifespan of a few weeks. Fleas can also bite people.
It is much easier to prevent flea infestations than to treat them. We recommend a ONCE MONTHLY flea preventative for your pet beginning as early as 8 weeks old. If you find fleas on your pet, make an appointment with your veterinarian, who will recommend a course of treatment for your pet and your home. Remember for every flea you see on your pet there are hundreds more in your environment. Successful flea control means treating both your pet and your home.
Heartworm Disease in Cats
Heartworms grow to be 6-14 inches long, and live in a cat’s heart or in the arteries leading to the lungs known as pulmonary arteries. Although heartworms occur commonly in dogs, most people do not consider them a problem for the cat. However, recent studies of cats with heart and respiratory diseases have found an incidence of heartworms that is far greater than previously thought. Outdoor cats are most at risk, but interestingly enough a study of feline heartworm disease in several geographical areas most prone to the disease showed that 36% of infected cats were kept totally indoors. Since it takes so few of the heartworm parasites to cause disease in cats, even the occasional mosquito finding its way into the home can carry more than enough heartworm larvae to be fatal. Outdoor cats are at the most risk for heartworm disease.
Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes. When an infected mosquito bites a cat, it deposits baby heartworms (larvae). The larvae migrate and mature for several months, ending up in the right side of the heart and the pulmonary arteries. They mature into adult heartworms about six months from the time they enter the cat. Shortly thereafter, they begin to release immature heartworms, known as microfilaria. Microfilariae live in the cat’s blood for about one month. They are ingested by mosquitoes feeding on the cat. However, most mosquitoes acquire microfilaria by feeding on heartworm-infected dogs. Because of their life cycle, it is necessary for a cat to be bitten by a mosquito to be infected with heartworms. Heartworms are not transmitted directly from one cat to another or from a dog directly to a cat.
There are excellent feline heartworm preventatives now available. Prevention of heartworm disease in cats is safe and easy. The reasons that heartworm prevention should be considered for your cat are:
- Diagnostic Difficulty: Diagnosing heartworms is not as easy in cats as in dogs. A simple and reliable in-hospital blood test is not yet available, and the tests that are most reliable must be sent to an outside laboratory. Often, radiographs or ultrasound studies are needed to confirm the diagnosis. Many cats are diagnosed with an autopsy following sudden death.
- Unknown Incidence: Heartworms are not nearly as common in cats as they are in dogs. However, they are probably more common than we realize. As we look more aggressively for heartworms in cats with better and better tests, we expect to find that the incidence is greater than previously thought. New research also suggests that because of the biological reaction caused by the fight against the heartworms in the pulmonary artery, it is argued that many cats exhibiting signs of asthma, may actually suffer from Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease.
- Poor Treatment: Great treatment options don’t exist for heartworm-infected cats. Effective drugs are not available, and cats that seem to be doing well may die suddenly. Treating heartworm infections in cats is risky, and not treating these cats is just as risky. If they are cured of the disease, it usually takes about two years.
- Easy Prevention: Cats given heartworm prevention drugs have not shown signs of toxicity. There is a wide margin of safety, even in kittens as young as six weeks of age.
Prevention is simple and cost effective. We recommend a ONCE MONTHLY preventative medication, which also protects your cat from many common parasites mentioned above, along with the prevention of fleas.
Spaying or Neutering
We highly recommend spaying (surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus) female cats and castration (surgical removal of the testicles) of male cats when they reach 6 months of age. For female cats, spaying greatly reduces the risk of uterine infections and breast cancer and eliminates unwanted pregnancies and kittens. For male cats, neutering eliminates the risk of testicular cancer and reduces the risk of prostate cancer and behavioral problems. Spaying or neutering at 6-8 months does not cause a change in personality, guarding instincts, intelligence, playfulness, affection or weight.
Spaying and neutering are major surgical procedures and as such require a pre-operative consultation with your veterinarian. This consultation could reveal a variety of health concerns that may need to be addressed prior to undergoing anesthesia. During the consultation your pet will receive a full physical exam, a pre-operative blood screen and an electrocardiogram (ECG). The blood test will provide information necessary to verify that the liver and kidneys can process the anesthesia, and may also alert the surgeon to any underlying infection or blood problems. The ECG shows the function and rhythm of your pet’s heart. If all goes well with the pre- operative consultation, a surgery date is made for your pet. This can be scheduled as early as the day after the pre-operative consultation, and up to 30 days later.
On the day of the procedure, we will admit your pet between 8:00-9:00 am. One of our licensed veterinary technicians will provide your pet with personalized care throughout your pet’s stay. Prior to the procedure we administer a pre-operative sedative and place a catheter intravenously. This allows us to efficiently deliver medicines and fluids throughout the day. During the procedure, we use the highest quality human-grade anesthesia, and monitor your pet’s temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and the oxygen level in the blood; while delivering IV fluids to help keep the core temperature stable and to expedite recovery. During recovery one of our licensed veterinary technicians remains with your pet ensuring (s)he is provided with warm blankets and kept pain free. After a routine recovery, the surgeon will call you with an update and will schedule a discharge time. Pets that are neutered go home the same day. Pets that are spayed go home the next day, after a post operative exam.
Microchips are often injected at the time of spay or neuter. We encourage the use of microchips to give your pet an additional source of identification in the event of being lost, and these are often required for international travel. The microchip is a tiny electronic chip about the size of a grain of rice placed just under your pet’s skin between the shoulder blades. The number on the chip, along with your personal contact information is then entered into a national database for easy retrieval. Should your pet be lost and found, you’ll be promptly contacted and reunited. Many international travel scenarios require your pet have an ISO (International Organization for Standardization) compatible chip like the ones we use. For more information about the microchips we use, please visit Home Again.
It is important to start early with your pet’s dental health. We recommend brushing daily using a toothbrush and specially formulated enzymatic toothpaste for cats to prevent the build up of plaque. If you find brushing difficult, dental rinses or chews are a better alternative in the fight against periodontal disease.
As your pet gets older it is important to have regular dental health check ups. This can be done at your annual appointment, or can be assessed at anytime.
- Plaque: Develops when bacteria attach to the teeth.
- Tartar / Calculus: Develops when minerals in the saliva combine with the plaque and harden.
- Gingivitis: Develops when the tartar irritates the gums, causing inflammation (redness) along the gum line as well as bad breath.
- Periodontal Disease: Develops when tartar is not removed. Tartar begins to build up under the gums, and separates the gums from the teeth creating multiple pockets, which in turn allows more bacteria to grow. This can lead to loose teeth, abscesses, infection, bone loss and health problems affecting the heart, lung and kidneys, which can all be quite painful.
If your pet has tartar it will be necessary for him or her to undergo an anesthetic procedure, where an ultrasonic scaling can be performed above and below the gum line to remove the tartar build up, followed by a thorough polishing. In some instances teeth extractions may be a necessary part of your pet’s dental health. Talk to your veterinarian about developing an appropriate dental care plan for your pet.
With pet foods, as with many things, you get what you pay for. Cheap cat foods use cheap ingredients, have poor quality control, are not well digested and may have excesses or deficiencies in vital nutrients, which can harm your pet. When analyzed in a laboratory many generic and store brand foods do not actually contain the level of nutrition stated on the label. So, to get the nutrition you are paying for, choose a well-known name brand.
Your pet will do best if you pick one complete food that is appropriate for his or her age and activity level, and stick with it. For a kitten this means kitten food. Young, rapidly growing animals need more nutrition than adult food can provide.
Animals do not need variety in their diets. Cats are prone to becoming finicky eaters when fed a varied diet, causing problems later on. So don't switch foods every other week. If you do need to change from one product to another, do so gradually by mixing the two diets together for a few days. This will help prevent diarrhea from a sudden change in food.
Don’t base your food choices on what you would like to eat, as many pet food manufacturers would like you to do. Cats don’t care whether their food is red or brown. They also don't care if it looks like beef stew or fresh salmon! The fancier the food looks, the more you are paying for unnecessary artificial coloring, flavoring and preservatives.
A dry food is best for your pet's teeth and gums, so the majority of your cat's nutritional needs should be met with a chow type food. Canned foods are much more expensive to feed, as you are paying for a lot of water and extra packaging. Many people like to supplement their pet's diet with some canned food, and this is fine as long as you pick a good one, and don't overdo it. Canned foods are more likely to have excesses of protein which can cause or contribute to kidney disease as your pet ages, as well as being worse for your pet's teeth. Cats often do well with supplemented canned food as it helps to keep them well hydrated, and this can be very important as a cat ages and their water intake declines.
Hill’s Pet Nutrition offer’s a great resource for making sense of a pet food label.