Cats are now the most popular pet in America with over 60 million feline friends reported. Whether this is your first or fortieth kitten, it is sure to enrich your life. With modern veterinary medical techniques and vaccinations, our goal is to allow each cat to live well into their teens.
To ensure that your kitten has all the benefits modern medicine has to offer, we recommend the following health maintenance schedule:
- As soon as your kitten arrives, it is very important to have it immediately examined by one of our veterinarians. This initial visit is to determine if there are any birth defects or signs of illness that may have been passed on from the parents.
- Your kitten's first vaccines against the common "kitten-hood" diseases – Distemper, Calicivirus, Herpesvirus and Chlamydia — should take place at 8 weeks of age. Booster vaccines will be given every 3 weeks until 4 months of age. Our veterinarians will help determine all necessary vaccines to ensure the health of your kitten.
- Rabies vaccination is given at 4 months of age.
- Deworming generally starts at 6-8 weeks of age and two doses of a general dewormer are given three weeks apart. A fecal test is recommended at every visit until your pet is 16 weeks old to test for intestinal parasites. Our dewormer treats for the two most common parasites (Roundworms and Hookworms). If others are seen on fecal test then additional dewormings may be needed.
- We recommend after your kitten is 12 weeks of age to test for feline leukemia. This fatal disease can be transmitted to your kitten from the mother. It's very important to know if your pet has this horrible disease. It is very contagious and can be transmitted to your resident cat if they come in contact.
- Once-a-month flea preventative should begin around 8 weeks of age. If your kitten has fleas at a younger age we can get rid of them with a different protocol, but the monthly preventative should not be used on kittens younger than 8 weeks. The monthly preventative should be used from April/May to the first frost (November/December). Flea preventative is especially important in households with dogs that can bring fleas in to your cats. In a household full of cats and no dogs, fleas can travel on your pant legs from your yard to your house. To avoid flea infestations please keep preventative on your pet.
Please DO NOT use over the counter flea medication on your cats. Many of them can be fatal to your beloved pet. If you have questions about a specific one, please consult your veterinarian before applying it.
- We strongly recommend spaying or neutering your pet at 6 months old. This not only prevents unwanted pregnancies, but also decreases your kitten's likelihood of developing breast, ovarian, uterine and testicular cancers, and uterine infections. Read the "Spaying and Neutering your Pet" section for further information.
- A good diet is essential to your kitten's development. We recommend Science Diet or Purina kitten foods. The benefits of a premium diet are very important.
- If you let your cat or kitten outside, then your pet should also be vaccinated yearly for feline leukemia. We don't recommend this vaccine for cats that are inside only. The benefits do not outweigh the risks. One in 10,000 animals vaccinated with this vaccine develop a soft tissue sarcoma that can be life threatening. We only use this vaccine if there is a high likelihood that your pet will come in contact with another animal with feline leukemia; this only occurs if your pet goes outside.
- Heartworm prevention recommendations: All cats that live in northwest Indiana should be on heartworm prevention. In other areas, if your cat goes inside and outside, then your pet should be on prevention. If your cat is strictly inside, prevention is not needed outside of northwest Indiana. If you have questions, please call and ask your veterinarian about heartworm disease in cats.
By following these simple guidelines, you will greatly enhance the enjoyment that both you and your pet will experience.