Health Care for Your Cat
Getting your kitten vaccinated is one of the most important things you should do for the welfare of your kitten. Vaccinating will protect your cats from, potentially, very severe infectious diseases. It will also prevent them from passing these diseases on to other animals where they live. Vaccinating your cat is also important for if you intend to leave your cat at a cattery, when you go on holiday for instance.
At what age should kittens be vaccinated?
Kittens will need two sets of vaccinations to get them started. They should have their first set of vaccinations at nine weeks old and again at three months old. After this ‘booster’ vaccinations should be every twelve months. Your cat/kitten won’t be fully protected for several weeks after the second vaccination so it’s a good idea to keep them in.
What diseases can vaccinations protect against?
Cats are vaccinated against:
· Cat flu (feline herpes virus and feline calicivirus)
· Feline infectious enteritis
· Feline leukaemia virus
Your vet can advise which vaccinations your cat or kitten will need to help protect them from infectious diseases.
What is cat flu?
Feline viral infectious respiratory disease is much the same as a human cold, a high temperature, runny eyes, sneezing, a snotty nose, it is very common in cats and extremely contagious, easily spread by cats drinking and eating from the same bowls, on bedding, in the saliva and when the cat sneezes. It can be mild in some cats, but in some rare cases, it can be fatal. In kittens and cats with other health conditions, it could lead to complications, so it’s important for owners to look out for and be aware of the symptoms.
Cat flu often gets better within one to two weeks of receiving treatment. Some cat flu carriers have symptoms all the time and need to be on medication for the rest of their life. It’s possible a cat will become a ‘carrier’ once they have had cat flu, and suffer from attacks throughout their life especially if they are poorly and suffering from stress.
What is Feline infectious enteritis?
Feline infectious enteritis (FIE) is a disease caused by infection with feline parvovirus (FPV), also known as feline panleukopenia virus and Feline Distemper
This disease usually affects pet cats at a young age. Known medically as feline panleukopenia, this type of viral infection lowers down the immune defences of young kittens by severely affecting the production of white blood cells. This infection can make young kittens pass liquid stools with blood due to the severe haemorrhaging that happens in their small intestine.
Fever may also be expected and will lead the young kitten to become depressed and then refuse to take any food and water. It may seem to the pet owner that the cat has a temperamental personality, hence the name feline distemper. The infection actually has no effect on the cat’s personality in any way. Sadly, recovery was very rare for a cat and it was one of the most common causes of death, distemper is now rare due to the effectiveness of vaccines.
What is Feline Leukaemia Virus
This virus can severely limit an infected cat’s immune system. With the affected immune system, the cat has limited ability to defend against all sorts of other infections and causes cancers. This virus can be spread from contact with infected cats urine, poo, saliva, litter trays, sharing bowls and licking and biting. Many cats can become carriers of the virus for years without displaying any outside symptoms of the infection.
Cats harbouring the virus may at times develop clinical signs of the infection if they undergo surgery, or get injured. The outlook for a cat with the disease is not good and will often be PTS.
Here are some other feline diseases to look out for that pet cats may suffer from at some point.
Feline Infectious Peritonitis
This is another viral infection that is also fatal in cats. This infection is usually common mostly in young adult cats and can be transmitted to other cats. There are two known types of this infection.
There is the “dry” type where the young adult cat is affected by high fever as well as problems with internal organs such as the kidneys, lungs and the intestines. With this type of infection, the cats never seem improve no matter how well the treatment is given.
There is also the “wet” type of the disease. Young adult cats have a fluid discharge within the abdomen. Occasionally the cat’s chest displays a golden and dense liquid that contains flakes within. This infection makes the cat run a high fever and would usually not eat well.
The only protection that cats can have over the disease is vaccination. But vaccines should be given to pet cats prior to any exposure to the virus or else the vaccine would not be very effective to prevent any infection.
Feline immune Deficiency Virus
This disease is similar to the Human Immune Deficiency Virus or HIV in humans. This virus in only found in cats and is being spread mainly through a bite from an infected cat. This disease suppresses the cat’s immune system and leads the cat to be more prone to all sorts of infection. There is an intranasal vaccine available to protect cats from the FIV infection although some veterinarians are not that convinced that it can protect more effectively as compared to other vaccines.
These diseases are just a few that we as pet owners should be aware. Knowing the signs of these diseases is important to ensure that your cats live healthy and long lives.