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Exam, Care, and
Vaccine Recommendations for Kittens

    What, When, and Why

2 Weeks of Age:  No vaccines needed, but momma and the kittens should be dewormed at about this age.  Parasites take advantage of a pregnant cat's turned off immune system to multiply like crazy and are able to infest the kittens through the milk.  It's only $3 a kitten to bring them in for a little mini exam and deworming

6 weeks old

By 6 weeks old, most kittens are eating solid food and getting little or no milk from nursing.  And this means no protection from the antibodies in mom's milk.  The period from 6 weeks old until approximately 12 weeks old when a kitten's immune system develops is an extremely vulnerable time in  a kitten's life.  Without vaccinations and repeated dewormings, about 1 in 10 kittens will die from dysentery, respiratory disease, leukemia, and anemia.  So please, don't dink around; it's critical that kittens be vaccinated very soon after weaning.

Here's what I recommend:

A good pediatric examination for defects like cleft palette, eye problems, hernias, anal-gentital-urinary tract problems, and heart murmurs.  We'll also look for evidence of vitamin/mineral deficiencies, anemia, and a host of other problems such as ringworm, ear mites, paw infections and so forth.

A discussion about nutrition and the best kitten foods. We'll talk about offering your kitten a variety of different types of food. We'll consider vitamin and mineral supplementation if needed.

Deworming with high dose pyrantel

Treatment, if needed, for coccidia, ringworm, and ear mites

A Capstar flea pill if needed

Vaccination for Feline Herpes virus, Chlamydia, Panleukopenia, and Feline Distemper
All these vaccines are combined in a single injection

Note:  Because a kitten's immune system is poorly developed at this age, this early vaccine will give fairly good protection from these deadly diseases for only about 3-5 weeks, which is why we highly recommend giving booster vaccines a month later at 10 weeks old

At this 6 week old visit, we'll also discuss waterless shampoos, and anti-allergy sprays for cats, and other hygiene topics. I'll introduce you to the Eliminodor that takes the smell out of litter boxes, and I'll load you up with things like Revolution samples (for heartworms, ear mites, lice, intestinal worms, adult fleas, and flea eggs), brochures for pet insurance, and a container for bringing in a stool sample at the next visit.

And, of course, we'll enjoy playing and cuddling with your new kitten.

10 weeks old

By this time, our early kitten vaccine protection will be wearing off and your kitten should have made huge strides in it's development comparable to 2 or 3 years of human infant development!

At 10 weeks old, it's time for:

A good exam to make sure all of the kitten's organs, openings, and joints are working and developing correctly, to make sure we don't have any ingrown eye lashes or lids, to make sure we don't have any glandular swellings, and to double check for anything we might have missed at the 6 week old exam.

In addition:

We screen test for ringworm

Recheck and retreat for ear mites if needed

Consider a Leukemia and Feline Aids Test prior to further vaccination

A microscopic and chemical analysis of the stool for occult blood, resistant nematode worms, tapeworms, coccidia, and giardia.  A lot of these parasites are not easily killed by ordinary deworming, so it's important to test; they're quite common.  (Please bring a teaspoonful or so of stool with you.  Any type of appropriate container/plastic bag is fine, or we'll gladly provide you with a handy little poop sampler device)

Vaccination boosters for Feline Herpes virus, Chlamydia, Panleukopenia, and Feline Distemper

First critical vaccination for Feline Leukemia.  Leukemia is our number 1 viral killer of young cats, and even 100% indoor kittens should get this vaccine.

Pyrantel high dose dewormer

Start Revolution or other Heartworm preventive.  We'll give you a free sample if you didn't already get one at the earlier visit.

We'll also give you a free sample of TD which helps in the removal of baby teeth.

We'll once again, briefly, go over the advantages of pet insurance and talk about high quality diets and the importance of good nutrition.

And, of course, we'll take great delight in seeing your kitten and discussing it's development, training, and any little problems we detect.

Later that day, we'll send you the results of your kitten's fecal exam by phone or email.

14 weeks old

By 14 weeks old, your kitten will be well on it's way into "pre teen" development and it's immune system will be mature.

It's time for

A head to toe exam looking for all the problems that are associated with pre-puberty and rapid growth.  To make sure that jaw and dental development is coming along correctly.  We'll establish your kitten's normal temperature, heart rate, and respiration rate.  We'll check for early signs of weight problems.

Repeat screen for ringworm fungus if there are any bald spots or skin lesions

"Adult Vaccines" for Feline Herpes virus, Chlamydia, Panleukopenia, and Feline Distemper

2nd Leukemia Vaccine

Rabies Vaccination.  Rabies is still a national and local threat, the vaccine is very inexpensive, and required by law before 6 months of age.  Just for your information, rabies disease is more common in cats than in dogs.

The rabies and other vaccines that we give at 14 weeks of age give good to excellent protection for about 1 year, so we'll set up a reminder for your kitten to come back then.

However, in addition, we encourage you to bring your developing kitten in about 6 months later for a free mid year wellness exam

Consider Microchip implantation and registration

Make sure you're kitten is started on heartworm prevention.  Indoor cats are also susceptible  (Heart worms used to be a dog only problem, but not anymore !  This parasite is causing significant disease in cats now too.)

We'll discuss the few products that actually work for flea control

Repeat the fecal test if needed

Consider getting TD teeth cleaning treats

And, of course, we'll enjoy playing with you pre-teen kitten during the exam and discuss with you all your concerns about elimination problems, litter boxes, squirt guns, scratching behavior, toys, and zoonotic diseases.

And finally, we'll talk about your kitten's upcoming pre-surgical blood work, anesthesia, and surgery for spaying or castration.  We'll talk about dental fluoride and enamel sealants, and if appropriate, we'll talk about declawing.

Recommendations for adult cats is on another page.

Thanks, Roger Ross, DVM
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A note about the vaccines we use for kittens and cats:

Vaccines have saved more lives than anything else we do in medicine.  By far. 

But vaccines aren't 100% safe and not all vaccines are of the same quality.  And we understand this.

So it's important to use the best vaccines available and to follow the recommendations of the Association of Feline Practitioners which in summary are:

1.  Vaccines are critical life savers in young kittens and young adult cats.  Early vaccination for leukemia is critically important in young cats.  But not in adult cats over 2-3 years old.  So don't over vaccinate.

2. Use a recombinate, adjuvant free vaccine whenever available.  To do otherwise increases risk of injection site sarcomas... a very serious form of cancer.

3.  Follow the law. 
And the only law pertaining to feline vaccinations in South Carolina is that Rabies Vaccination is required on all pets over 6 months of age.
Both the 1 year and the 3 year rabies vaccine are approved in South Carolina.

But only the 1 year rabies vaccine is available as a recombinate, adjuvant free vaccine. 

And since adjuvant free vaccines are much safer, that's what we use at our clinic.
Home   Vaccine recommendations for:  Adult Cats  Puppies     Adult Dogs      Wellness Exams     Veterinary Services
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Special Request

Please use a carrier to bring in your kittens and cats.

The clinic is such a busy and hectic place that even normally calm kittens panic.

And some freak out when a big friendly dogs comes over to sniff and lick.

And several kittens a year run away from their owners getting them from their car into the clinic.

So please, take this extra precaution.
Exam, Care,
Vaccine Recommendations for Kittens

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