New Kitten/Cat Owner ::
So, you have a new addition!
MAKE AN APPOINTMENT WITH
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
Now you need to think
about spaying or neutering your newly adopted.....
AFTER THE INITIAL EXAM
- SPAYING AND NEUTERING:
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!
HOW TO CHOOSE A VET -
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A VETERINARY HOSPITAL:
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
- FELINE MAINTENANCE HEALTH:
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.
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.......
DIAGNOSIS - DIAGNOSTICS:
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........
A DIFFICULT DECISION:
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
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
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
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.
on specific feline disease, please check them out, you will be glad you
SPECIFIC FELINE HEALTH
-SPECIFIC DISEASE LINKS:
Conditions - Pro Links
Feline Health and Behavior Links
and Diane's Cat Health Related Links