Wellness Diagnostic Testing
We recommend annual diagnostic blood work and urinalysis beginning at age one in order to obtain baseline values which can be used for comparison each year of your pet’s life. Wellness diagnostic screenings maximize your ability to discover (and our ability to effectively treat) most health issues before they can become serious health problems. As your pet reaches his senior years (around age eight, depending on breed), these screenings become even more important.
Show your kitten the litter box and place him/her in it several times. It is rare for a kitten to reject or not use the litter box because its mother has usually already trained him/her to use the litter box. If this does happen, move the litter box to a more secluded area. If the problem continues, you may need to place several boxes around the house to determine a favorite location and also try different types of litter. Once you find a litter that the kitten likes, always use that type. We do not recommend switching brands or types of litter because this may cause your cat to stop using the litter box altogether. You also will need to clean the litter box frequently. Cats are very clean animals and may refuse to use a dirty litter box. If you have multiple pets, we recommend one litter box per cat plus one. If you have two cats, it means you should have three litter boxes.
If your kitten stops using the litter box suddenly, after he has been using it regularly, this may indicate that he has a urinary infection or other problem and should be examined by your veterinarian. Male cats often get a medical condition where the urethra becomes blocked with crystals and they cannot urinate. This is an emergency and your cat needs to be seen by a Doctor right away. Cats that are blocked will get in the litter box frequently, yet not have voided any urine.
Many pet owners have questions as to why their kitten needs more than one vaccine and when. Your kitten is just like a baby with an immune system that is still growing and is not up to par yet. Each vaccine helps to stimulate the immune system, which can only respond so much. Your kitten may be fully protected after one vaccine, or he may not even be fully protected after three vaccines.
The timing of the vaccines is important. Peak immune response is at 3-4 weeks post-vaccination (this is why we space our vaccinations 3-4 weeks apart). Another vaccine at this time builds upon the previous immune system response resulting in stronger immunity. Wait longer to vaccinate and the response will not be as great. That is why the timing of vaccines is so important. Also, it is not the number of vaccines that your kitten gets, but the timing of them. This has to do with interference by maternal antibodies. It is recommended to carry out vaccines through 16-20 weeks of age. After your kitten has been through his kitten series, he will then receive booster vaccines in 12 months, and then annually and triennially after that, depending upon the type of vaccine given.
There is a less than .05% chance that your kitten may have an allergic reaction to something in the vaccines. When cats have vaccine reactions, it is considered an emergency. Cats can have an anaphylactic response, usually with 5-15 minutes of vaccination. Signs that you may see include excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, or walking drunkenly (off balance). Should you see any of these signs consider it an emergency and seek immediate medical attention. Another type of reaction is a delayed one where your cat will be lethargic for 1-2 days after vaccination. If either of these reactions happen, your kitten/cat may receive an injection to prevent such a reaction next time. Or, we may elect to discontinue that particular vaccine.
One potential consequence of vaccination in cats involves the growth of a “Vaccine Associated Sarcoma” (tumor). Because of the secrecy with vaccine formulations, no one knows what specific ingredient is responsible for this tumor. It has been suspected that the adjuvant is involved. Because of this, our hospital uses non-adjuvanted vaccines to increase safety. Please do not hesitate to vaccinate your cat because of this. It is estimated to occur in only 4 in 10,000 cats that are vaccinated. Researchers now suspect that a genetic component is involved in this type of tumor.
As a kitten, your pet will be receiving different vaccinations on the booster visits. It is important to observe your cat for reactions each time a different vaccine is given. Once a kitten reacts to vaccines, an antihistamine and/or anti-inflammatory injection is given with all future vaccinations to prevent the reaction from occurring.