Kitten Information

Congratulations on acquiring your new friend. These notes are a quick reference guide to help get your kitten off to the right start and answer some of the more common problems and questions.

Vaccinations

There are currently five types of diseases covered by vaccination:

Feline Enteritis – similar to parvovirus of dogs, causes acute vomiting and diarrhoea – frequently fatal. Less common today thanks to vaccination. Vaccination normally pre-requisite for boarding..

Cat Flu – Including Feline Herpes and Calicivirus. Most common contagious disease of cats. Affected cats may develop permanent sinus like symptoms and/or mouth and eye ulcers. Vaccination is pre-requisite for cattery boarding.

Feline Chlamydia – Generally shows as chronic conjunctivitis or milder respiratory signs. More common within cattery or breeding establishments.

Feline Leukaemia – Attacks the immune system and may cause tumours in later life. More common in densely populated areas and cities. Spread by saliva (licking, biting ) or via the womb. Cats generally infected and most vulnerable during the first year of life so vaccination needs to be targeted toward kittens rather than mature cats.

Feline Aids – Recently available. Spread by cat bites in saliva. Outdoor cats and males most at risk during cat fights. Not transmissible to humans. Three vaccines required and prior testing may be needed.

The basic F3 vaccine for boarding covers Feline Enteritis and Cat Flu. The Vet can advise what additional cover is recommended depending on your cats age and risk profile. Generally vaccines are given around 8 weeks and at 12 weeks. A 16 week vaccine may be advised in some cases.

Worming and Parasite Control

Intestinal worms include roundworm, hookworm and tapeworm. Heartworm is primarily a dog blood parasite but can occasionally affects cats. It is however very serious when it does, so it is sensible to use a broad spectrum agent which includes heartworm cover. Routine worming is important for both cat and their owner especially where children are handling the pet. Worming can be performed either orally using tablets such as Milbemax or Drontal or, topically using multi purpose products like Advocate or Revolution. Some spot-ons do not cover tapeworm or ticks so a combination is usually advised. Worming at 6 and 12 weeks is recommended and thereafter either monthly using an all-in- one spot on or at least quarterly with an oral wormer.

Licenses( and Microchipping)

As at July 2009 new council laws require microchipping for all new pups and kittens ie those less than 12 weeks of age on 01/07/09. By law this must be done no earlier than 8 weeks and no later than 12 wks age. This means they must now be chipped and registered before desexing period ie generally at second vaccination. While undoubtedly less convenient and painless than chipping during desexing we can still do this during normal consultation. Note older/existing pets only require a chip if they change hands/ownership or if they are a declared dangerous breed. Pets must also be registered both with microchip authority (which we do) and the council (which you do) within 7 days. A desexing tattoo in the left ear is also compulsory.

Neutering

Undesexed male cats roam, fight and spray pungent urine around the house when they are not busy hunting wildlife, mating and yodling at midnight under your bedroom window. Undesexed females will start producing surplus kittens as early as 5 months age. Early desexing is recommended as a relatively short day procedure at around 4-5months.

Feeding

Cats are obligate carnivores which means they require meat rather than vegetable derived proteins and other preformed nutrients in their diet. Best quality foods use meat based protein rather than cereals, soya or meat “derivatives” which may include hooves, horns, gelatine or stomach digesta. Iams and Eukanuba provide good overall value with inbuilt teeth cleaners and essential fats. A chicken wing tip or chicken neck several times weekly is important to reduce gum disease in later life but should be introduced early to kittens.

Socialization

Like dogs, kittens have an early bonding period with their owners. This is usually achieved through play and grooming. Unbonded cats are those independent cats that generally only appear around meal times. Bonded cats on the other hand seek human contact, through play and grooming. Use of kitten toys like a stuffed mouse on a string (or even a ball of aluminium foil) will:

  • help the cat expend its predatory energy on inanimate objects rather than your feet
  • encourage the cat to come to you for fun times and affection
  • reduce excessive midnight activity and restlessness
  • help to exercise and reduce obesity in greedy lazy moggies!

Toileting

Most cats are naturally clean and learn to use litter tray from a very early age. Cats do develop definate preferences for the substrate used be it newspaper, wood pellet, soil or odour crystal. Cats do require privacy in their toilet area so if a litter tray is used these should be placed in a quiet traffic free and protected area. Cats prefer a clean tray each time so it is good for indoor cats to have one spare tray at all times (ie 2 cats =3 trays). A high sided or enclosed tray is advised for cats who mess in hidden sheltered places or baths. Stress, illness, changes in litter substrate and threats by other cats can all disrupt toileting behaviour. Ask the Vet or Nurse for help if problems occur.

Fleas

Fleas love warmth and humidity of the Sunshine State! Contrary to popular belief, fleas generally breed in dark, sheltered, dusty areas like carpets, skirting boards, under beds or houses where pets sleep rather than out in the exposed lawn. Indoor conditions in Queensland are suited to fleas all year round. Flea control likewise needs to be year round and aimed at prevention rather than treatment. Many cats become allergically sensitized to flea saliva resulting an intense reaction to even a few bites. This shows as crusty sores or heavily groomed bald patches. Prevention must target flea eggs as well as adult stages. Ask the Vet or Nurse for simple effective monthly control measures like Revolution, Frontline or Advocate.

Ticks

The native scrub tick Ixodes is carried by bandicoots, possums and other backyard wildlife and produces produces a potent nerve toxin in its saliva. This is frequently fatal to domestic cats. Spring and Summer (September through April) are the worst times of year. Only Frontline (used fortnightly) or oral Proban tablets are safely licensed to use on cats. Signs of tick poisoning include gagging, coughing, weakness and laboured breathing. This can occur even a day after ticks have been removed. Urgent treatment is required, contact the surgery ASAP!

Teeth

Cats teeth are perfectly designed as carnivores for hunting, chewing and tearing prey. The gnawing action helps massage, polish and clean teeth. Soft tinned food or dry kibble cannot alone provide this as it is either swallowed whole (look at what they vomit up!) or left as sticky residue on the gums to feed mouth bacteria. 85% of cats by 3-4 years old have existing gum disease. Much of this can be avoided by:

  • feeding fresh meaty bones like chicken wings or oxtail several times a week,
  • if you are feeding dry food choose one with some proven dental cleaning action like Iams/ Eukanuba dental defence or Hills T/D
  • Use a dental hygiene gel like Maxiguard or Dentigel just apply daily to the lips or gums. The Vet can demonstrate easy this is.

Insurance

Vets recommend insurance because it allows us to deliver the high tech medicine and best options we were trained for or make specialist referrals where indicated. We can recommend best value policies such as Petplan, Petcover etc for your pets needs. Some household/car policies like Suncorp and RACQ offer pet cover as an add-on to existing policies.

Petshop

The Petshop is open 7 days for all expert advice and your kitten supplies.

Emergencies

25 years of after- hours emergency work generally working through the next day does take its toll. In the interests of health and sanity we have decided to refer our after-hours caseload to the Qld University Emergency centre St Lucia. Cases are stabilised, monitored through the night, then returned to us – usually the following day. While there is always some inevitable loss of continuity it allows us to be fully functional, un-sleep deprived and able make best clinical decisions by day! The UQ contact number is 3365 2110 or you can find it on the after-hours answer machine.