New Kitten/Cat Owner ::

So, you have a new addition! .....Now what?

Newly adopted kittens and cats should always receive an initial examination with your vet. Your vet will thoroughly examine your kitty and determine her overall health condition as well as provide you the options of having additional tests performed, such as a fecal exam to test for parasites or diseases such as Coccidiosis, Giardia, and other gastrointestinal problems. At this time, he will offer to de-worm your kitty. It is always a good idea to have this done to prevent parasitic infestation and malnourishment.

An FELV/FIV test should be performed prior to vaccinations to determine if any feline infectious disease are present. If negative results are acheived, your vet will advise you to vaccinate your kitty to build immunity and prevent fatal feline infectious disease. Depending on your vet's protocol, this will be done in a series, usually with FVRCP, FELV/FIV, and Rabies. Each is given at 3-4 weeks apart, save for the Rabies vaccination, which is usually given at 12-18 weeks of age. Although there is some controversy concerning the FELV vaccine and Feline Vaccine-Induced Sarcomas, you must be responsible for discussing these issues in greater detail with your vet about the risks as well as the benefits. We strongly urge you to express your questions and concerns to your vet prior to vaccinations, and with a good working relationship, you and your vet can make a reasonable decision based on your kitty's individual needs, her lifestyle, and the protocol your vet recommends.

Please visit our friends Jeff and Coleen at Sylvia's Journey of New Hope , an exceptional website devoted to educational efforts on Feline Vaccine-Associated Sarcomas. Jeff and Coleen have taken great pride and measure to provide the latest up-to-date information on this issue as well as provide valuable resources for you to learn more.

NOTE:  If you have adopted your kitten or cat from a pet store, shelter, or private party, it is never safe to assume by word of mouth that your kitty is current on her vaccinations and general health condition. Whenever possible, please request vet records, breeder records, and any other certificates of health, and present them to your vet at the time of your kitty's exam. If no records are available, your vet may deem it necessary to vaccinate regardless, and remember, in the proper time frame, it will not harm your kitty to be vaccinated twice in the absence of prior records. Your vet can help you determine the necessity at that time.

For more information, please see our  Feline Health Glossary - Page 3

Now you need to think about spaying or neutering your newly adopted.....

Now that kitty's examination is performed and completed, your vet will recommend that you spay or neuter your kitty. For female kittens and cats, spaying can greatly reduce the risk of urinary tract infections, prevent heat cycles (which can drive you insane!), and keep her healthier in the long-term. For male kittens and cats, neutering greatly reduces the roaming tendencies, spraying, and agressive or "tomcat" behavior, as well as provides a better state of health for his future. Both spaying and neutering greatly control the overpopulation of thousands of homeless and unwanted kittens and cats anxiously waiting good, loving homes that simply do not exist. Please do your part, and have your kitten or cat spayed or neutered as soon as your vet deems it can safely be done.

NOTE:  If you cannot afford to spay or neuter your kitty right away, please immediately seek assistance from your local shelter, humane society, or spay/neuter task forces in your area. Frequently, annual or bi-annual events are held to help the community, and often will provide discounted services as a service to the community. Remember that these funds go back into similar organizations geared to help overpopulation and educational resources. Please support your community in these hard efforts !

For more information, see our Spay & Neuter Page

Choosing a qualified, caring and committed vet doesn't have to be difficult!

When choosing a veterinary hospital for your kitty's health, the hospital should be fairly accessible within your area/neighborhood. However, it may be necessary to investigate outside of your area to find the hospital you are most comfortable and confident with. Ideally, the hospital will be AAHA accredited (American Animal Hospital Association), which means that the veterinarian(s) and staff have taken great measures and pride in providing excellent health standards to provide the best care for your kitty's future health. These facilities are strictly examined and evaluated and are accredited only upon meeting those standards of quality and committment. The veterinarians and staff work hard to acheive this status, and are proud to provide you with their services.

Once you have chosen a veterinary hospital, take a tour of the facilities and aquaint yourself with the vets and the staff and ask questions as needed. During your tour, you should take note of the facility's cleanliness, the staff's professionalism and friendliness, and the general overall appearance of the hospital. The staff should be able to answer your questions in a timely and professional manner. Take special note of patients and note if they are kept clean, comfortable and safe. Ask the receptionists and other staff members about the hours the hospital keeps, about their policies of payments, and about the availability of emergency services after hours, weekends, and holidays. Some veterinary hospitals provide 24-hour services, including boarding services. If your hospital choice does not have these services, you might want to consider an alternate in case of an emergency. Always keep in mind that most hospitals and emergency hospitals require payment upon service, so make sure you understand their policies. Oftentimes, some vets may overlook this in view of payment options, but your vet needs to form a client relationship with you in order to trust in your good faith and to continue with providing your kitty with exceptional care.

When forming a client relationship with your vet, you want to feel comfortable in expressing your questions and concerns, so do not be afraid to speak freely and get those concerns met. During exams, make sure you understand what your vet is telling you and ask questions when needed. If testing measures are needed, make sure you understand what is involved, the cost, and what to expect from lab reports and the time needed to receive those reports. Ask the technicians or receptionist if the hospital indeed follows up and contacts you regarding test results, etc. Don't depend on your vet to follow-up personally in some instances, so be aware that you may need to take initiative to contact your vet or his office regarding those situations. When dealing with medications, it's up to you to understand the medication, what effects it might produce and the term for which it is prescribed. You are also responsible for contacting your vet should problems with medications arise, he needs to know how effective they are or if there are problems or side-effect that must be dealt with. This is an important part of the doctor-client relationship and once you've formed an understanding, you and your vet can then provide the best measures of treatment and health maintenance for your kitty's future health.

NOTE:  Your vet and his staff should, by every account, treat you and your kitty with respect, concern, and dignity. If you should ever feel you are not getting your concerns met in a reasonable fashion, then please either voice those concerns to resolve the situation, or seek another vet with whom you are more comfortable with. At the same time, always try to understand your vet is not perfect, but he most likely truly has your kitty's best interests at heart. Your vet has many cases he works on on a daily basis, and has a great deal of responsibility to every pet who enters his hospital. When keeping that in mind, it's easier for us to understand if he's quiet, reserved, or concentrating on the issue at hand. At those times of uncertainty, or if there is any doubt involved in your kitty's particular case, you always have the option of seeking another opinion or that of a feline specialist or veterinary university resources. Your vet should be happy to lead you in those directions if need be. Weigh those options carefully, and you will have a better opportunity where your kitty's health is concerned.

To find a qualified vet in your area, see the search engines on our Feline Health Links Page

During your kitty's life stages, she may develop a generalized health condition or a more specific disease.....

To maintain your kitty's health and ensure her a healthy and happy life, it's important to have annual veterinary exams to monitor her health condition on a regular basis. Annual vaccinations, physicals, and oral health should always be considered an important part of your kitty's health maintenance. Diet plays a large part of maintenance as well. Exercise, playtime, and a great deal of bonding and love will also ensure your kitty of a happy and healthy life.

At one point or another, your kitty may experience a health problem, so getting her to your vet for an exam in a timely manner will ensure a head start on her proper treatment. Do not let things go for days when you know that something is wrong. When you are in tune with your kitty, and your instincts tell you something is not quite right, trust those instincts, for they are usually true. The sooner your kitty sees your vet, the sooner the situation can be detected and treated. Most generalized health problems can be treated effectively and quickly, but others demand more attention and investigation, so never hesitate to call your vet to voice your concerns and he can make a reasonable determination as to whether she should be seen right away. Generalized conditions can be apparent in all life stages of your kitty, while other more serious problems may only develop during her senior years or during those times of additional stress in her environment. See also, our Feline Health Awareness/Wellness Campaign for information on the importance of twice-yearly exams - to detect disease early on and for prevention medicine.

We strongly urge you to read up on feline health issues. Buy magazines and books on generalized feline health care and ask your vet for further information about specific problems/disease. Having a personal library for reference in times of doubt can mean the difference between treating at home and having to think about an emergency vet visit. Never apply treatment to your kitty without your vet's advice, just to be on the safe side. If you are experienced in generalized care, that is fine, but if you should have any doubt, consult with your vet. Your kitty is depending on you to monitor her health, so try to stay in tune with her, and at those times when you notice anything unusual, no matter how minimal it seems, always consult with your vet.

NOTE:  Never hesitate to call your vet in times of uncertainty. Your vet will be happy to answer any questions you have, day or nite. It is always better to be safe than sorry, no matter how trivial the case may seem. Keeping in tune to your kitty and her individual needs will ensure her a healthy life, and peace of mind for you! It is also a good idea to have an emergency vet's number on hand in times of emergency or those times your primary vet is not available.

So you and your kitty are at the vet's.......

When your kitty is being examined for a specific problem, you will need to be prepared for the possibility that your vet may offer additional diagnostics to reasonably diagnose and treat the problem effectively. At this time, your vet will treat symptomatically and try to keep costs to a minimum for you, but some diagnostics can be costly, so you should always discuss these options with your vet prior to having them performed so that you are aware of the cost, and what to expect. Every hospital is different and costs will vary between general clinics vs emergency clinics vs university hospitals. Some of these diagnostics may include x-rays, bloodwork evaluations, and medication trials. Sometimes, hospitalization may be necessary in more detailed cases, so please discuss with your vet the costs of hospitalization and medications, etc. being included in the cost of hospitalization. If your kitty must be hospitalized, please make sure that the facility is a 24-hour hospital and that there is an attendant or technician on duty, as well as a veterinarian on call, to monitor your kitty after normal business hours.

Please understand that some diagnostics are necessary to reasonably confirm a diagnosis and to treat your kitty effectively. Discuss in further detail the testing methods, what to expect from them, and the time frame in which to receive the results. Familiarizing yourself with test results can further help you understand the nature of the problem as well as provide you knowledge when you are treating your kitty at home. Do not be afraid to ask your vet questions concerning medications and treatment and what to expect from them.

NOTE:  If your kitty's specific health problem involves medications/treatment, you are responsible for complying with your vet's advice, the dosage schedules, and the course of treatment. When noted on prescriptions, follow them exactly. Finish all medications as noted and report any adverse effects to your vet promptly so that he is aware of the situation and can rectify the situation as necessary. Followups may be necessary to monitor the treatment's effectiveness, so please keep your appointments and comply with your vet's instructions.

If at any time, you are uncomfortable with your vet's recommendations or protocol, please ask questions and make sure you understand what is involved before accepting any treatment. You are always entitled to a second opinion, but most often, this will not be necessary. In any case, your kitty is depending on you to treat her specific health problem, and understanding what is involved in her care will better enable you to provide for her needs and comfort, as well as for her safety.

See our Feline Health Glossary Pages  for guides in helping you understand diagnostics, procedures and lab results. Also see our  Hospitalization/Costs of Compassion  for a guide in understanding costs associated with a veterinary emergency visit.

Thoughts on euthanasia, an emotional time........

Sadly, at some point in your kitty's life, you may be faced with this emotional decision. Whether due to an emergency situation or a terminal illness, you will have to carefully balance your emotions with your kitty's health and well-being. From a clinical view, things to consider in dealing with this painful decision include the following...
If your kitty can no longer function in her normal everyday routine and shows any signs of discomfort or pain and treatment and medications do not provide relief or supportive care, then you must consider what might be the most humane act of love for her, giving her a loving and peaceful release from pain or terminal illness. Although this decision is never an easy one to make, it is one in which you must take a perspective look into in order to provide your kitty relief from pain, suffering, or debilitation. Working with your vet and having trust in his opinions can help you in this decision, as well as receiving support from family members and friends. Never be afraid to voice your concern or to let the tears flow, it is a natural human emotion we all must deal with at one point or another in the lives of our loved ones. Your vet and his staff completely understand this and they are there to help guide you, offer support and comfort. Remember, your vet and the members of his staff have dealt with these decisions many times, both personally and professionally.

In some cases you certainly have the option of having your kitty at home with you during this difficult time. You are your kitty's parent, caregiver, and nurturer, and in some cases, it is much more peaceful for both kitty and parent/family members to be in familiar surroundings at home rather than a clinical setting and unfamiliar territory at such an emotional time. Most vets will honor wishes to euthanize in the home setting, so please ask your vet if he provides this service.

Most vets will also offer cremation services, so be sure to discuss this with him and make sure you understand the cost and when you can pick up ashes, etc. Some vets also provide brochures to order urns, caskets, etc., so if you are inclined to cremation, you might ask your vet if he offers these ordering services as well. There are many options available that supply beautiful products to memorialize your loved one, and this may be a fitting option for you and your family.  For memorial products, please see our Memorial Products Page .

It is a natural human emotion to have feelings of guilt when dealing with euthanasia, and although those feelings are valid feelings, remember that you provided your beloved kitty a loving life, and offered her the best care that you possibly could. She knows what you are feeling, but she is also at peace and free from pain and suffering. Be assured that she would even speak her own words of love and comfort to you if she could. Sometimes we must be our loved ones' voice and provide them the most loving act of release in order for the cycle of love and life to live on. Her body will only be a shell now but her spirit will soar onward, and she will be free to live on in your heart, your memories, and your own spirit........

For an insightful look at dealing with a difficult decision, please see When Is It Time , written by a very special veterinarian, Davet.

Comprehensive links on specific feline disease, please check them out, you will be glad you did....

Specific Conditions - Pro Links
Debbie's Feline Health and Behavior Links
Jeff and Diane's Cat Health Related Links

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