Welcoming a new pet into your home is such a precious, exciting time, and you want your new kitten to have a healthy happy start to his long life in your family. So, let’s look at kitten health.
Vaccination is so important for all pets to ensure they can fight disease. Cats need their first vaccine at about the age of seven weeks. They have a booster about six weeks later, and another by 16 weeks of age. The diseases these vaccines protect against include:
- Feline enteritis – a highly contagious and life-threatening illness.
- Cat flu or feline respiratory ailment – a nasty disease with symptoms similar to the types of flus affecting humans.
- Feline calicivirus – a virus that can cause all sorts of nasty symptoms such as fever, ulcers, diarrhoea and arthritis.
- Chlamydia – a bacteria that causes eye disease.
- FIV or feline immunodeficiency virus – a blood-borne infection that devastates the immune system.
Because he can’t tell you if anything is amiss, it’s your job to keep an eye on your growing kitten to make sure he isn’t developing health issues. Regular home check-ups will show if anything is amiss. If you spot anything unusual, head straight to the vet. Check his body for weight loss or gain – you should be able to feel but not see his ribs. Check that his eyes are clear without any signs they are sore or sensitive. Check his ears are clear and his nose is soft and damp. His teeth should be white, his breath clean and his gums pale pink or black. His skin should be black or pink – depending on his normal pigment – without dandruff or bald patches. Cats occasionally vomit, which is normal, but regular vomiting should be looked at. Remember, cats are really good at hiding their illnesses so if you notice anything unusual (in his behaviour, appetite or thirst), he might be unwell.
The decision to sterilise their pets is one many owners find hard to make. But de-sexing is really important. It’s best to have your vet de-sex your pets when the pets are still young. In the female, the ovaries and uterus are removed. In the male, the testes are removed. The surgical procedure cannot be reversed. Cats are incredible breeders. They can reproduce at just five months of age, having three seasons a year and producing up to five kittens per litter. When a female cat is on heat she is loud and marks her territory with urine to attract tom cats. Not only does a spayed female not come on heat, she is less likely to develop mammary tumours and infections of the uterus. Neutered males are less aggressive than non-neutered cat, and more likely to stay close to home, reducing the risk they will be hurt or injured by other cats or cars.