BASIC KITTEN CARE
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FIRST AND FOREMOST: Cat VACCINATIONS
Many common diseases, including Distemper, are deadly to your cat. During the initial day of nursing, kittens receive antibodies, proteins, against certain diseases from their mother’s milk. These protecting antibodies are gradually lost between 6 and 16 weeks of age. A series of cat vaccinations are given during this period to stimulate your kitten’s immune system to produce its own antibodies. This “passive” immunity protects the kitten during its first few weeks of life, while its immune system is maturing, but, at some point, this immunity fails and the kitten must produce its own, longer-lasting “active” immunity. Cat Vaccinations are used for this purpose. As long as the mother’s antibodies are present, they will cause interference and prevent the immune system from responding completely to the vaccines. Even if your cat never goes outside, many viruses are quite hardy, and can be carried to your cat on your hands, shoes or clothing. Make sure your pet is protected!
We recommend a cat vaccination schedule that protects against feline distemper, two upper respiratory infections, feline leukemia and rabies as follows:
6-8 weeks – Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia (DCR #1)
9-12 weeks – DCR #2, Feline Leukemia (FELV) Test & FELV #1
12-16 weeks – DCR # 3, FELV #2
3-4 months – Rabies
Feline leukemia is a deadly disease that is spread directly from cat to cat, and from mother cats to their kittens before or shortly after birth.
As many as 40% of cat deaths annually are due to Feline Leukemia and related viruses.
A blood test for FELV once your kitten reaches 9 weeks of age will determine if your cat or kitten has been infected. If the test is negative, two initial vaccinations, 3-4 weeks apart will prevent Feline Leukemia in your cat. Your pet will receive a booster at about one year of age, and yearly if your cat goes outside, is boarded, or has contact with other cats. We will also recommend a test for the FIV virus, a related viral illness for kittens obtained at 6 months of age or older.
Kittens will receive booster vaccinations at one year of age. Currently subsequent DCR vaccinations will be good for three years. FELV and RABIES need annual boosters. In recent years with new vaccine technologies and ongoing research into vaccine duration, vaccination protocols have begun to change. Chances are good that vaccine recommendations will change again over the next ten years. As your cat comes in for annual physical exams we will inform you of any new vaccines and vaccination schedules.