Kitten First Vaccinations and Veterinarian Visit
Such an Alive and Curious Kitten!
Caring for the Cute, New Kitten
Baby animals: the Supreme Being made them all pretty danged cute. The humans who are lucky enough to have them in the family may look into those big eyes and wish that the pet puppy or kitten never grows up. But, grow up they do, and it is our job as the “quasi-parent” to care for them and prepare them for their future. Naturally, health care is a major aspect of this guardianship.
When Should the First Veterinarian Visit Occur?
If your kitten is presumed to be healthy, it does not visit the vet until it is weaned – usually at age 6 weeks. In contrast, if the little dear has an observable problem before that age, call the vet’s office for guidance.
What Information Should You Provide the Vet?
The veterinarian will want to know the kitten’s date of birth or approximate date if that is the best you can do. Let them know if it was born to an indoor or outdoor cat, and how you came to be its caregiver. If you have health information about its mother or other animals it contacted, volunteer that.
For example, one case may be that a friend took in a litter born to a feral cat. He adopted out one of the kittens (the most adorable one, of course!) with you. If other kittens in the litter had diarrhea or fleas, tell the vet. Also, disclose the “untreated” status of the mother and any health problems you know about.
First Tests for a Kitten
In the case above, the vet will probably recommend performing a blood test for feline leukemia and feline AIDS. Both are very serious and also very contagious to other cats. Of course, you do not want to put any other pets you have at risk for these diseases. A nice feature of this blood test is that it can be done at the beginning of the vet visit and read in about 15 minutes. Also, you may have been asked to bring in a stool sample of the kitten to be checked for worms. In the case of unknown background of the mother cat, this is a good idea. The worm test also can be completed before the end of the office visit.
In addition to laboratory tests, the veterinarian will listen to your kitten’s heart and lungs and perform an exam.
At the tender age of 6 weeks, a kitten is too young to have any flea treatment. Also, if it will be an exclusively- indoors cat, the rabies vaccination is not given at this visit. However, a set of injections will be scheduled with the first of the series starting at age 6 to 8 weeks. It is called the FVRCP vaccine. It combats the following viruses:
FVR = Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis
Rhinotracheitis is a severe upper respiratory infection caused by a herpes virus. This virus can be very severe for kittens and can cause blindness or death.
C = Calicivirus Infection
This virus can cause pneumonia, “pink eye,” and other problems. The virus can survive eight to ten days on a bowl, cage, brush, or blanket. Sadly for us and our kitties, carrier cats can pass the virus into the environment for up to one year.
P = Panleukopenia (also known as distemper and feline enteritis)
This disease is a quickly progressing, highly contagious one with a high mortality rate.
This is not standard for all kittens, but it can be given if the circumstances warrant.
As with a new human baby, be prepared for your kitten to want to sleep more than usual after the vaccination as its body assimilates the medicine.
More First Visit Agenda Items
The veterinarian will probably advise you on what foods to give and for how long. Also, he or she will discuss the timing of spaying or neutering your kitten. If you desire to have your kitten declawed, that will be done in the future, not on the first visit.
A Kitten who Fits in Your hand
Enjoy your new family member and take good care of it. It will reward a thousand fold with its unconditional cat-love. (And take plenty of photos!)
Photos and text copyright 2012 Maren E. Morgan.
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