Congratulations! You’ve brought a kitten into your life!
Whether you’re a new pet parent or a seasoned pro, watching a curious kitten explore their new surroundings and figure out the world can be endless entertainment. Making sure your kitten is getting the right care isn’t difficult, there are a few things that are really helpful to know. Good food, plenty of exercise, clean water and a safe environment are the obvious needs.
For healthcare, vaccinations, parasite control and ensuring your kitten is spayed or neutered are the medical side of ensuring proper care for your friendly feline.
While we have plenty of recommendations on foods and safe lifestyles, exercise, ideal body condition, proper dental care and good hygiene practices, the information below is focused on the important medical side of caring for your kitten.
If you’ve got questions, that’s why we’re here! Give us a call and let one of our reception or technical team get you all the answers you need!
Here are the Medical Highlights:
Vaccinations are an essential part of health care for kittens. During a cat’s lifetime, most will come in direct contact with one or more of these highly contagious diseases, therefore, all kittens should receive vaccination. Vaccines are designed to make the immune system produce antibodies and neutralize infectious organisms before they have a chance to cause illness. This is optimally achieved through vaccines at 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age.*
Vaccination schedules may vary depending on the age that a kitten comes to the veterinarian for their first health check. The veterinarian will recommend the best schedule for vaccination, depending on age, vaccine history and risk assessment. Only healthy kittens should be vaccinated. To ensure that vaccinations are appropriate, a complete physical examination is performed before any medication, pest control or vaccine is administered. On occasion, some pets may experience mild side effects following vaccination, similar to those that can occur in people. Serious side effects are extremely uncommon, but can still occur. Any sudden change in a kitten’s behaviour or activity shortly after vaccination warrants a trip back to the veterinarian for re-assessment.
What Vaccinations Should Kittens and Cats Get?
“FVRCP” – the short version of Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (this is feline upper respiratory syndrome caused by the herpes virus) Calcivirus, Panleukopenia (Feline Parvovirus). This vaccine is recommended for BOTH indoor and outdoor cats. Try saying that five times fast!
“FeLV” – Feline Leukemia Virus. Feline Leukemia Virus is a virus that only infects cats. There is no treatment for FeLV, therefore preventing infection through vaccination is the way to go. Ideally, all felines are tested prior to starting a FeLV schedule: this is needed to ensure the cat is not already infected with FeLV, as it offers no protection to an infected cat. A few cats may experience a mild reaction to the FeLV vaccine, but these are usually mild and only for a short period of time. This vaccine is especially recommended for cats who go outdoors, or who may be exposed to other cats in the future (fostering, boarding facilities etc.).
“Rabies” – Rabies Virus. A disease that needs no introduction! Hunting cats are at the highest risk and although all cats should be vaccinated for Rabies, outdoor hunting cats are at the greatest risk of catching BATS! While indoor cats may be strictly indoors, outdoor bats are NOT strictly outdoors!
Booster Vaccinations are Important
Vaccines are highly effective in protecting kittens and cats against disease, however, they don’t last forever. Different vaccinations are considered protective for different lengths of time and boosters will be recommended to maintain protective immunity. The frequency and type of vaccination boosters your kitten and cat should receive is determined by your cat's lifestyle and risk of coming in contact with these diseases.
As an adult, the important core feline vaccine (FVRCP) booster is recommended every 3 years. A Rabies booster is given at 1 year then every 3 years afterwards. The Feline Leukemia vaccine booster is recommended every 2 years. A few short questions will help the veterinarian determine which vaccines are most appropriate for your cat. No need to worry about which vaccination is due when, our veterinary reception team will keep track and notify you by the method of your choice when your kitten or cat should come in for booster vaccination.
It’s Time for the Veterinary Visits — What to Expect?
It’s time to find out how well you know each other! One of our team will gather a thorough history from you about your new buddy. Not quite, “How you met, what’s it like living together….” But similar. There are lots of questions but there’s no need to study, there’s no wrong answers.
Next we’ll move into the examination where the veterinarian and the veterinary team will do a complete physical exam and better yet, do it out loud so you know what they’re seeing through the doctor’s eyes! This thorough systematic approach will cover gums to bums and from that, the veterinarian will be able to tell you how they’re doing and what will be recommended.
What Does a Typical Vaccination Schedule Look Like?
That depends on what age we get to meet your newfound friend, what vaccinations they may already have had and what are they likely going to be doing for fun and excitement! Once we have a good idea of what a kitten’s life will likely be, we can see what vaccinations and treatments are best for your feline friend.
Here’s a peek at a pretty common visit and what will likely be recommend for your kitten:
At 8 Weeks of Age:
It starts with a complete exam. If all is well, an initial vaccine for FVRCP, some deworming and a discussion—and maybe dispensing for Flea Control! (Yech, fleas!)
We allot some extra time on that first meeting so we can get to know your kitten, get them comfortable and so you can bring along all your questions.
At 12 Weeks of Age:
A lot of growing has happened in 4 weeks and kittens get themselves into all sorts of mischief! The veterinary team will catch up on what’s happened since the last visit and your veterinarian will go over another examination to make sure she/he is in perfect health before giving vaccinations. Vaccines given at this age would usually include the 2nd FVRCP Vaccine (or the first FVRCP if it’s not yet been given), and a Feline Leukemia Vaccine. Some kittens will continue to bring in unwelcome pets of their own…Except worms and fleas make terrible pets, so weights will be rechecked and an additional course of deworming medication and flea control will be recommended.
At 16 Weeks of Age:
Your kitten is four weeks older and that much bigger! This is the final check of those kittenhood visits. The veterinary team will find out how things have gone since the last visit. Out comes the stethoscope and your veterinarian will do the last kitten examination to be certain all is well. The final kitten vaccines would usually include the 3rd FVRCP Vaccine, the 2nd Feline Leukemia Vaccine and a vaccination for Rabies.
Did you know that cats are good at math? Well, OK, they can’t add or subtract, but boy can they multiply! Lastly during this visit, the veterinarian or a veterinary team member will discuss arranging a date for your rapidly maturing kitten for spaying or neutering, an all-important step in making sure they don’t surprise you with a whole bunch of kittens.
Want some more information on what to expect from your kitten? If you love to dive in, we’ve got an ocean of recommendations! Listed below are some of our favorite go to places for Best Reads:
If you still prefer the audio version, give us a call at 250-590-8445 and we’ll always be happy to answer your questions.