The early days with a kitten are a time of great fun and importance for you both. Along with kitten shots and other health considerations comes the chance to learn about your kitten’s health needs. Our veterinarians welcome the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help you provide and understand a preventive healthcare plan—from explaining our kitten vaccinations schedule to helping choose the right nutrition plan for your kitten’s healthy growth. Because kittens love to explore and play and help us all feel happy and vibrant, there’s no time more special than that spent with your new kitten. And our experienced kitten veterinarians are here to help keep your kitten as happy and healthy as possible through every phase of life.
KITTEN SHOTS & VACCINATIONS SCHEDULE
Kitten shots, or vaccinations
to use the clinical term, are crucial to healthy development. Therefore, Deerfield Veterinary Hospital follows a kitten vaccinations schedule that meets the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) guidelines. Our veterinarians administer only adjuvant-free vaccines to our feline patients. FVRCP vaccination includes viral rhinotraceitis, calicivirus, and panleucopenia. These viruses can afflict kittens, causing upper respiratory disease, conjunctivitis, and diarrhea. Kitten shots begin with the first vaccination at 6 to 8 weeks of age and continue every 3 to 4 weeks thereafter until the kitten is 12 to 16 weeks old.
Feline Leukemia Vaccination Schedule
Feline Leukemia (FELV) is the number one infectious killer of cats. Kittens are particularly susceptible to FELV. Our veterinarians recommend every kitten, even strictly indoor kittens, be vaccinated against FELV since our feline friends can sneak out. To protect against FELV, our kitten shots include a first booster at 9 weeks of age and then a follow-up booster 3 to 4 weeks later.
Rabies Vaccination Schedule
Rabies is a neurological virus that causes seizures and death. When giving kitten shots, Deerfield Veterinarians administer an initial, single rabies vaccination at 3 to 4 months of age. The immunity from this first Rabies vaccination lasts one year. The city of Springfield, MO requires cats be vaccinated against Rabies because it poses a serious health threat to humans.
FELINE LEUKEMIA & FIV TESTING
Deerfield vets recommend every kitten be tested for Feline Leukemia Virus (FELV) & Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) initially. FELV is found in saliva, urine, feces, blood, and milk. Licking, biting, sneezing, nursing, and pregnancy can all transmit FELV. Sadly, 80% of cats who have FELV die within 3 years of diagnosis.
Kittens contract FIV most often from deep bite wounds. Both FELV & FIV cause immunosupression that predisposes your cat to infections, dental disease, and some cancers. Our veterinarians offer FELV and FIV testing for kittens in Springfield, MO, and it is best to test for both of these viruses and know the status of your kitten from the start.
FECAL EXAMINATION FOR KITTENS
Kittens should have a fecal exam performed to check for intestinal parasites such as roundworms, coccidia, and tapeworms. Deworming and therapy will be done accordingly. Our veterinarians recommend prophylactic dewormings for kittens to ensure their health and prevent transmission of feline intestinal parasites to adults and children—who are especially at risk.
FLEA & TICK PREVENTION FOR KITTENS
New-generation, topical, monthly flea preventives are essential for kittens. The key to flea prevention is to start using a preventive early, use it monthly, and use it year round. Since there are safer, more effective products available, the veterinarians at our hospital do not recommend using flea sprays, flea collars, or dips. Revolution is a superior flea control product for our feline patients. Revolution is also labeled to help prevent heartworm, hookworm, roundworm, and ear mite infections in your kitten.
Cytauxzoon felis is a fatal tick-borne disease found in Southwest Missouri, including Springfield, so tick control is essential for kittens that venture outside. Ask our veterinarians about the best tick control option for kittens.
SPAYING OR NEUTERING YOUR KITTEN
As a leading animal hospital in Springfield, MO, Deerfield practices some of the most advanced veterinary services in the area, including our spay and neuter procedures. Like any experienced veterinarian, Deerfield vets strongly recommend spaying female kittens and neutering male kittens at 3 to 6 months of age. Male kittens often begin to spray urine and mark their territory at 6 months of age. It is best to neuter your cat before he ever sprays. During the neuter procedure, our veterinarian removes the testicles from the scrotum. And when spaying your kitten, our veterinarian removes both ovaries and the uterus from the abdominal cavity.
Spaying or neutering your kitten at a young age significantly decreases health and behavior problems.
DECLAWING YOUR KITTEN
New kitten owners in Springfield, MO often contact our animal hospital with questions about declawing their pets. Our veterinarians recognize declawing a kitten is a personal decision that many owners struggle with making. Scratching and clawing are instinctive behaviors for cats, who claw to mark their territory. Often kittens claw items their owners do not want clawed. Some kittens can be trained to use a scratching post, but your kitten may not use this designated area 100% of the time. A problem then can arise. With that in mind, our vets ask kitten owners important questions: What will you do when your older cat is no longer clawing appropriately? How will you feel having an older cat declawed?
If you are leaning toward declawing, it is better to have the procedure performed when your kitten is younger. Your kitten will spend the night following a declaw procedure but can return home the next morning after removal of the compression bandages. We are proactive about infection prevention and pain relief for our kittens undergoing declaw procedures. Declawing can be done at the same time as a spay or neuter procedure. If you choose not to declaw your kitten, a Deerfield veterinary staff member can instruct you how to properly trim your cat’s nails.
INSIDE VS. OUTSIDE
Deerfield veterinarians recommend keeping kittens inside. Too many dangers await our feline friends outside. Such threats include FELV & FIV from diseased cats, cat fights, cat bites and abscesses, cars, wildlife, toxins, dogs, and exposure to fleas and ticks, along with the life-threatening diseases they harbor. Unlike dogs, cats do not adapt to walking on leashes well. Moreover, cats who have been exposed to the outside are more likely to try to sneak outside. Let your cat safely enjoy the world from a window view inside.
To help ensure the health of your kitten, our knowledgeable veterinarians can help you plan a high-quality diet. Your kitten will digest a premium food more completely, have less odiferous stool, and visit the litter box less often when fed a premium diet. Poorer-quality cat foods can contain excessive amounts of protein, sodium, phosphorus, and magnesium. These can predispose your cat to feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) and to early kidney disease.
KITTENS AND THE LITTER BOX
The litter box is private, so place it in a quiet area where your kitten will not be disturbed while eliminating. Scoop daily to keep the cat box clean. If the litter box is dirty, your kitten may find a cleaner alternative place to use. Often inappropriate elimination behavioral problems arise because of a dirty litter box. A rule of thumb for the number of litter boxes in a household is one box per cat and at least one box per floor of the home.
When cleaning the cat box, use warm water and a mild detergent. Using strong smelling disinfectants to clean the cat box can lead to a litter box aversion. Do not use Lysol around the litter box. Lysol is toxic to cats. If your cat experiences problems with using the litter box, contact our animal hospital in Springfield, MO. If a male cat is having difficulty in the litter box, call us immediately. It may be a medical emergency.
On average, cats spend about two hours grooming each day. This can lead to hairball problems in both longhaired and shorthaired cats. Be sure to give your cat a hairball preventive or feed it a hairball-control diet to help prevent hairball gastrointestinal issues.
For longhaired cats, Deerfield veterinarians recommend a bath and thorough combing a few times a year to remove old hair and to prevent matting of the hair coat. Matted hair can lead to skin infections and discomfort. Many Persians and Himalayans require frequent, professional grooming to keep their coats manageable.