We feel the most important thing we do here at Linden Heights Animal Hospital is to promote preventative care- or Wellness Care- beginning with your kitten's very first visit. In fact, in an ideal situation we would like to talk to you before you get your kitten to help you choose a breed which fits your lifestyle. Since this rarely happens in "real life", we feel our guidance can be a crucial part of your kitten's first few months while he or she is rapidly becoming a cherished part of your family. In most cases you will be visiting us several times during your kitten's first few months, so we would like you to feel comfortable asking questions- just remember, that's why we're here! You'll soon learn that there is a lot for us to talk about during your kitten visits. This summary of our routine Kitten Wellness Program is designed to give an overview of some of the more important topics during your kitten's first year.
Typically, we recommend beginning your kitten's vaccination program between 6 and 8 weeks of age with boosters 3 to 4 weeks later. The Rabies vaccine is given at 16 weeks. In most cases, we vaccinate for the following diseases: Panleukopenia Virus (Feline Distemper), Herpes Virus, Calcivirus, Rabies, and Feline Leukemia (outdoor cats). In addition, we recommend testing all kittens for Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (more on that later). You will find detailed descriptions of these diseases in your Kitten Care Kit which you will receive at your first visit (if you don't receive your Kitten Care Kit, please ask for one.)
Kittens can pick up intestinal parasites from their environment. But what many new pet owners don't realize is that kittens can also get roundworms and hookworms from their mother before birth. For this reason- and because humans can potentially develop serious problems if exposed to immature forms of roundworms and hookworms- we routinely recommend deworming all kittens several times between the ages of 3 and 12 weeks, and periodically thereafter, for internal parasites.
For external parasite control, we recommend a monthly topical medication year round.
We recommend testing all kittens for Feline Leukemia Virus(FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). While neither disease is curable, they are manageable. Both of these viruses are similar to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) which causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in people, but they are feline-specific and cannot be transmitted to humans. Likewise, cats cannot be infected with human HIV.
Feline Leukemia Virus and FIV can be transmitted from cat to cat by fighting, mating, sharing food and water bowls, mutual grooming, or they can be born with one or both.
"Why does my kitten need so many shots?"
This is a common question from many new kitten owners. The answer lies in understanding the immune system of the young cat. At birth and shortly thereafter, a kitten receives a certain amount of maternal antibodies from the mother. These antibodies provide vital protection during the kitten's first weeks- without this protection, the kitten could easily die from any number of life-threatening infections. Somewhere between 6 and 16 weeks of age, the mother's antibodies begin to wear off, and the kitten's own immune system must take over the job of fighting off infections. Each individual kitten loses maternal antibodies at a different rate. By periodically vaccinating during this "window of opportunity", we hope to boost your kitten's immune system against life-threatening infections such as Herpes and Panleukopenia Virus.
The most common external parasites we encounter are fleas, with ticks being in common in late winter/spring/early summer. We have a variety of flea and tick control products available which are effective and safe depending on your kitten's age. Flea control is a very complicated process, so please feel free to ask any questions you have about the variety of flea control options available.
Heartworm Disease Prevention
Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes. Although previously thought to be primarily a disease affecting dogs, research has now shown that cats are susceptible. Cats develop different problems from heartworms than dogs do. The respiratory system is primarly affected, leading to such chronic conditions as feline asthma and allergic bronchitis. If left undetected and untreated, Feline Heartworm Disease can progress to extreme breathing distress, seizures and death. We strongly recommend monthly heartworm prevention for all cats.
Bringing your kitten in for one of these safe, common surgical procedures is perhaps the single most important decision you can ever make to lengthen and improve the quality of your pet's life.
For female cats, spaying eliminates or greatly minimizes problems with:
unwanted pregnancy, which helps prevent pet overpopulation
attraction of males cats during "heat" cycles
potentially life-threatening uterine infections and breast cancer
For male cats, neutering eliminates or greatly minimizes problems with:
aggression and dominance leading to cat fights and abscesses
roaming, which helps prevent pet overpopulation
territorial marking with urine.
Cats are living longer now than ever before, partly because of basic vaccination and preventative health care programs. In addition, current advances in veterinary medicine have greatly improved out understanding of feline nutriction. From the time your kitten is weaned until it is a Senior Citizen the type of food you feed can greatly influence his or her health in a variety of ways.
Proper nutrition is vital for:
a shiny, healthy coat
active, competent immune system
strong bones and teeth
efficient digestion to prevent vomiting and diarrhea.
Research shows that the number one cause of euthanasia in the United States is also one of the most preventable: behavior problems. We can give you advice on new pet introductions as well as inappropriate elimination to help your kitten become a well behaved member of your family.