Getting a New Cat? Here’s what you should know about their first year veterinary care.

Getting a New Cat? Here’s what you should know about their first year veterinary care.

Acquiring a new kitten family member is a very exciting time. Whether a specific breed is sought from a reputable breeder or adopted from an outdoor living style, we will be very happy to be part of your health care provider and give you all the information you need to help you with your new addition; keeping them healthy and everyone happy.

 Puppy-kitten-595x283In general, our recommendation is to start their vaccinations and exam around 8 weeks of age.  During this first visit a full physical examination will be performed on your kitten, including obtaining a weight, checking for ectoparasites (fleas, lice, ticks, mites), listening to their heart, taking a temperature and discussing aspects of cat ownership, both from a medical and home standpoint.  We will administer the necessary vaccinations providing the physical examination reveals no abnormalities that would be contraindicative to vaccinating.  Your kitten will require a booster vaccination 4 weeks after the initial set of vaccines.  Their physical exam and booster vaccinations will be due 1 year later and every year thereafter.  After receiving two consecutive years of a Rabies vaccine, their rabies vaccine will then be due every third year, with their upper respiratory combination vaccine due every year.
It is not uncommon for kittens to have intestinal parasites, especially if born outdoors.  Bringing in a fresh stool sample for us to microscopically examine will help us determine which parasites are present and the appropriate deworming medication can be dispensed.  There are some parasites, such as roundworm, that are potentially transmitted to humans through fecal-oral contamination.  Although rare, it is possible, occurring more often with young children than adults.

After their vaccination series, their next visit would be due when they are approximately 6 months of age for their spay or neuter. (Spay is for a female, neuter is for a male.)   cat-litter-birth-protection-webRecommendations to spay or neuter are not only made “just” to prevent unwanted litters, although this is a great reason.  As a male cat reaches maturity, it may begin to spray urine around the house to mark territory or try to escape if an in-heat female scent is detected. If you have ever come across the scent of male cat spray, you know how distinct a scent it is and notoriously hard to remove.   Female cats in heat can attract stray males to the house.  If a female cat in heat does escape it will very likely return pregnant.  Spaying eliminates the possibility of ovarian or uterine cancer and uterine infections and greatly reduces the possibility of mammary cancer.  Neutering a male cat eliminates the possibility of testicular cancer and greatly reduces the potential of prostate infections/cancer, as well as perineal hernias (weakening of the abdominal wall around the anus causing the abdominal contents to herniate out around the anus).  Another reason for having your pet “fixed” is that, unfortunately, animals who are hit by vehicles are often unneutered males who have escaped looking for a female.

Although it is becoming less common, if an owner decides to have their kitten declawed, we recommend to do it at the same time as their spay or neuter. Declawing involves the amputation of the first phylange of each toe (not just the nail itself).  Think of it as similar to removing up to the first joint on each of your fingers)
Not all cats will scratch at furniture or destroy household items with their nails.  Some cats are more active when it comes to scratching and often choose a certain surface or material that they particularly enjoy.

SCRATCHING POSTS: Offering proper scratching areas can help minimize destruction of your home.  These can be in the form of cat trees, scratching posts or by choosing a fabric similar to what your cat seems to enjoy and using it to cover a piece of wood.
NAIL CUTTING: Cutting your cats nails may seem like a daunting task, but can be quite successful, especially if introduced as a positive experience early in life.  Nails should be trimmed every 4-6 weeks.  It is a myth that cats who go outdoors should not have their nails trimmed, cats do not typically cause harm with their nails if in a fight (it is typically their teeth) and even a declawed cat can climb a tree!
: Soft paws are small rubber nail caps that are applied to the nails every 2-4 weeks depending on how fast the nails grow.  They are applied by trimming the nails short, applying a small amount of special glue to the cap and placing the cap over the nail and holding in place for 5-10 seconds.  As the nails grow, the soft paw caps will fall off.

If you are thinking of bringing a kitten (or adult cat) into your home that has previously been a stray/outdoor cat it is recommended we perform a blood test for Feline Leukemia and Feline AIDS.  This is especially important if you already have a cat within your home as these diseases are transmittable between cats.  We recommend the test be performed prior to introduction into your home and current cat.  This is a simple blood test performed in our clinic, requiring only a few drops of blood.

If you already have pets at home, especially cats, we recommend to keep your new addition isolated in an area by themselves that the other animals cannot access for 2 weeks.  After the 2 week isolation, you can begin short, supervised visits with your other pets.  You can gradually increase the time spent together until your new addition is completely integrated into your household.

141736-425x283-housetraining1LITTER TRAINING:
Often litter training is as simple as showing your new kitten (or cat) where the litter box is within your house.  The recommendations for litter boxes is that you have as many litter boxes as you have cats, plus one and have them located in different places in your home.  We don’t recommend keeping the litter boxes near a furnace or washer and dryer; it is possible that if you cat is making a trip to (or already in) the litter box when one of these kicks on, it may cause an aversion to going back to that litter box.  Most cats prefer low sided, non-hooded litter boxes.    Just as humans prefer clean clean litter box.  Scooping litter every day and cleaning the box weekly with mild detergent can help your cat continue using the litter box properly.  Typically it does not matter what type of litter you use; one is not necessarily better than the other, but your cat may have a preference.  Try to use the same litter all the time to avoid your cat not wanting to use the litter box because they “don’t like” the litter.  If your cat does not dig around in the litter, cover their urine or feces or goes to the bathroom right outside of the box, these may be signs your cat has an aversion to the type of litter.
When cleaning the litter box, a mild detergent should be used.  Any heavy scented cleaners may cause the cat to not want to use the litter box. (Do you notice that cats can be pretty particular about their litter boxes?)

FOOD: kitten-eating
Your kitten should be on a high quality kitten food until
they are approximately 10 months old.  It is not recommended that they be on an “All Life Stage” diet (this can be determined by reading the AAFCO statement on the side of the bag as it is not always indicated on the front of the packaging).    When your kitten is between 8-12 months of age you can begin a gradual transition to a high quality Adult cat food.  Diet plays an important role in your cats overall health, in particular their urinary tract health.  A properly balanced diet is key to maintaining a proper urine pH and preventing urinary crystals and bladder stones from forming.  It is especially important in male cats that can form these crystals and “block”; they are unable to physically urinate and this is a medical emergency requiring emergent intervention within 24 hours of occurring.  For recommendations on proper diets for your cat please feel free to speak with one of our staff members.
Kittens (and cats) do not need to be given milk.  Unless you are fostering kittens less than 4 weeks of age that need kitten formula, cats eating solid dry or canned food do not need formula or milk.  Contrary to popular myths, cats are actually lactose intolerant and giving cows milk can cause intestinal upset, vomiting and diarrhea.

After their first year visits; we will then see you and your cat on an annual basis for their exam and necessary vaccinations.  It is recommended that even cats who remain only indoor be examined on a yearly basis, with the necessary vaccinations.  Annual examinations are key to recognizing changes in your cat and identifying potential health complications earlier.

As always, please feel free to call us if you ever have questions or concerns regarding your pet.  Our goal is to make pet ownership and your relationship with your pet the longest and happiest it can be.  519-250-0099

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