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 – Related  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. The 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 – Less common in Australia but 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. Vaccination is not 100% reliable and not widely adapted in Australia

Feline Aids – Spread by cat bites and fights 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 for older cats . Recommended for outdoor cats .

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 , 12 weeks and  16 weeks.

Worming and Parasite Control

Intestinal worms include roundworm, hookworm and tapeworm. Heartworm is primarily a dog blood parasite but does rarely  affect cats. It is however very serious when it does, so it is sensible to use a broad spectrum agent which also 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, using a multi purpose spot- on product 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 actual meat not vegetable derived protein as well as  other specific preformed nutrients in their diet. Best quality foods use meat based protein not  cereal, soya or meat “derivative” (which may include hooves, horns, gelatine or stomach digest!) Blackhawk and BARF are a great value Australian made products which tick all the boxes.  Most feline specialists advise feeding both wet and dry food to ensure the urine is not too concentrated which can lead to bladder disease. A chicken wing tip or chicken neck several times weekly is still important to offer added teeth  exercise and reduce gum disease in later life. Early habits and food preferences mean they need to  be offered early in a  kittens life . The food area should be quiet, calm and well away from toilet areas

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. Cats learn “boundaries” and good behaviours from their siblings rather than their mothers so there is a good argument for acquiring kittens as a pair especially if they have been orphaned .  A sterile house devoid of geckos or cockroaches and things to hunt will be  a boring environment for a cat. Use of kitten toys like a stuffed mouse on a string (or even a ball of aluminium foil) can

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

Toileting

Most kittens are inherently clean and learn to use the litter tray from a very early age. Cats do develop definate preferences for the substrate used whether  newspaper, wood pellet, soil or odour crystal. Cats do require privacy in their toilet area so if a litter tray is used it 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 scatter litter or also mess in alternate hidden sheltered places( closets and  baths etc) .  Stress, illness, changes in litter substrate and social threats by other household 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 choose dark, sheltered, dusty areas like carpets, skirting boards, under beds or houses where pets sleep not  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 ongoing prevention rather than treatment. Many cats will become allergically sensitized to flea saliva resulting an intense reaction to even a few bites. This shows as crusty sores or heavily overgroomed bald patches. Prevention must target flea eggs as well as adult stages. For most cats a monthly combination spot on like Revolution or Advocate is sufficient . For highly allergic cats a flea specific product like Comfortis is required

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. Ticks can occur anytime though Spring and Summer (August  through April) after rain are the worst times . Only Frontline Spray (used 3 weekly ) or Seresto collars  are currently  licensed to use on cats. We are hoping to have the  long acting spot on Cat Bravecto available soon. 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  alone will not provide this as it is either rapidly swallowed whole (just look at what they vomit up!) or left as sticky residue upon the gums to feed mouth bacteria. 85% of cats by 3-4 years old (on tinned or dry food alone) have existing gum disease. Much of this can be avoided by:

  • feeding a 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. Few plans include any dental cover,  some won’t cover infectious diseases or ticks snakes . Check carefully . Petplan is the most comprehensive .

Petshop

The Petshop stocks high quality road tested diets , cat litter ,parasite treatments and supplements

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 now  refer our after-hours caseload to either Animal Emergency Service Homemaker Centre Jindalee or Animal Referral Hospital 17 Mile Rocks . Both are just minutes away. Cases are stabilised, monitored through the night, then returned to us if possible – 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!  Low care patients will be hospitalised at the surgery and overnight monitoring if required can be arranged.