We are here to provide a complete health-care service for your new kitten. We are happy to provide advice about any aspect of cat care – please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any specific questions that are not covered in this information or during your first consultation.
Kittens are generally acquired at 6 - 8 weeks of age, and can come from a variety of sources. This can be a stressful time for some kittens depending on their nature and their previous lifestyle. We generally like to let the kittens settle into their new home for a few days before we first see them. We can begin vaccination at 9 weeks of age in most circumstances, with a second vaccination 3 - 4 weeks later. However, they will not be fully protected by the vaccine until about a week after the second injection. In the meantime they should be kept inside.
Kittens are generally vaccinated against several potentially life-threatening diseases. We routinely vaccinate against:
- Feline Panleucopaenia – similar to parvovirus in dogs, this can cause a severe, bloody diarrhoea with a high mortality rate in kittens and some older cats.
- Rhinotracheitis & Calicivirus – the key viruses in ‘cat-flu’, which cause runny eyes and nose, and a high temperature. Mortality rates are especially high in young kittens.
- Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV) – similar, though not directly related, to HIV in humans, this virus can disable the immune system and cause tumours. There is usually a long period between acquiring the infection and the onset of clinical signs.
Annual re-vaccination is currently necessary for these diseases, as immunity is not life-long. We can also vaccinate against rabies for cats being exported or travelling under the Pet Travel Scheme. Please ask for more details if this is of interest to you.
All kittens are infected with worms from their mother. We recommend that they are wormed before weaning and regularly thereafter. Please ask about the specific recommendations for your pet as this will vary depending on their lifestyle. Modern, safe, effective and convenient products are available from us to treat both round and tapeworms.
Fleas & Ticks
Nearly every animal will come across fleas from contact with other animals or wildlife. Flea infestations are much easier to prevent than treat and so regular treatment is advisable. This is most conveniently done with ‘spot-on’ products. Several products are now available, and this is best discussed with a vet or nurse who will be able to risk assess your pet’s exposure and advise accordingly. Please note that some of the products available for use on dogs are highly toxic to cats.
Ticks can be a regular issue for some animals. They are generally found in coastal areas or well-protected inland areas as the ticks do not like severe frosts or dry heat. Ticks rarely transmit severe diseases, but local irritation can be a problem. We can show you how to safely remove ticks which have attached to your cat.
We generally recommend that cats are better off being neutered at a young age. Males can be castrated from 5 ½ months. If left intact, they tend to mark their territory, including indoors, with urine and are more prone to fighting and road accidents. Females can be spayed at 5 ½ - 6 months of age. If left entire, they will come on heat about every three weeks, and will re-breed as soon as one litter is weaned.
Microchip identification can help improve the chance of a lost pet being returned to its owner. This is a simple procedure that can be undertaken in any consultation, at any age. Please ask for further details when making an appointment.
Regular and consistent exercise is important for all cats. Many free-ranging cats will self-regulate their food intake and exercise to maintain an appropriate weight, but we advise that house cats be encouraged to expend energy in play. There are many commercially available cat toys to encourage active play. Please note that the guidelines on many feeds are quite generous and many cats need significantly less food than suggested on the pack.
Most kittens will readily use a litter tray for toileting. These can be filled with soil, sand or any of the wide variety of commercially available cat litters. Ideally cat litters should be placed away from food and water bowls. Please note that beyond the usual advice about washing hands after cleaning out litter trays, some cats carry toxoplasma which is potentially dangerous to pregnant women. Please ask a medical practitioner if you would like specific advice about this.
Pet Health Insurance
We would hope that you and your cat will have a long and healthy life together, but unfortunately many cats will require veterinary attention for unforeseen problems at some point in their lives. Modern veterinary medicine can be expensive as we follow advances in human medicine. Specialist treatment can be particularly expensive – we regularly recommend courses of treatment that can cost several hundred pounds and sometimes will run into thousands. Insuring your pet at a young age, before the onset of problems, can help take away the worry of having to deal with veterinary bills whilst you are coping with an unwell pet. We are unable to recommend specific policies, and small print varies widely. Generally the cost of the policy varies with the level of cover. Some policies will only pay out for one year on a single condition, whereas other polices will cover the condition for the life of the pet. Leaflets from several companies are available at reception.
Visit the International Cat Care website for more information on caring for your kitty.