Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Vaccinations and introducing children to your kitten.

Vaccinations and advice for kittens in the UK

Mandy Cooper

Register your cat with a vet as soon as you get them home. As your vet when it is best to vaccinate your kitten. They will carry out the vaccinations your kitten needs.
Vaccinations protect your cat against diseases which can cause pain, distress and are often fatal. They prevent diseases from being passed onto other animals.

All of which give you peace of mind. Vaccines contain a harmless form of the virus or bacterium that causes a particular disease. They stimulate your cat's immune system in a safe way. If your cat then comes in to contact with the disease for real, it's immune system “remembers” how it dealt with the vaccine so it can fight the disease. Your cat should receive a primary vaccination course early in life, followed by booster vaccinations throughout its life. The primary vaccination course for cats varies with the type of vaccine used. The first vaccine can sometimes be given as young as 9 weeks of age with the second usually given 3 to 4 weeks later.

Booster vaccinations are needed as the body's immune response gradually fades over time. They are often given every year, depending on the vaccine. Vaccines protect your kitten against cat flu, feline chlamydia, feline infectious enteritis and feline leukaemia virus.

Give your cat's regular treatments to stop them suffering from worms and fleas, help your cat to help you. Protect your cat from worms as they can also harm you, ask your vet for advice about which products to use and how often to use them. Always choose flea and worm treatments from veterinary practices or pharmacies as they are clinically proven to be safer and more effective than over the counter versions bought from pet shops and supermarkets. Ask your vet about which products work and which ones don't. Here at BCR we use Revolution Flea Treatment. 

Prices can vary from practice to practice and it's a good idea to speak to your vet to see if they offer a health care plan for your kitten which helps you to spread the cost of preventative vet treatment such as regular checks, annual vaccinations and flea and worm treatments. Your vet will provide you with a vaccination record which you need to keep safe. Some vet practices in the UK provide financial assistance like the RSPCA.

Vaccinations and advice for kittens in the USA

Cat vaccinations are divided into 2 types.

       Core cat vaccinations are those that protect against common and/or particularly dangerous diseases and are recommended for all kittens and cats.
       Non core cat vaccinations are not necessarily recommended for all cats and kittens. These vaccinations are only recommended for those cats or kittens at high risk of infection. All kittens should receive a vaccination that protects against feline rhinotracheitis, feline calicivirus and FVRCP. They are all diseases that are frequently found in the general cat population. Calicivirus is 1 of the most common viral causes of upper repository infections. Protection against these 3 viruses are usually provided in a combination vaccine.

The vaccination for FVRCP can begin as early as 6 weeks of age. Kittens are vaccinated once every 3-4 weeks until they reach 16 weeks of age or older. To avoid over vaccination, most vets will recommend starting the vaccination at 8 weeks of age followed by boosters at 12 weeks and 16 weeks old. Rabies is the other core vaccination. Rabies is a fatal disease that can affect many animals as well as humans. Your kitten can receive a rabies vaccination as early as 12 weeks of age but this depends on state laws and the vet.

Non core vaccinations include feline leukemia (FeLV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), chlamydophila felis and feline giardia vaccinations. The FeLV vaccination is recommended by some vets for all kittens while others recommend the vaccine only for those kittens at risk of disease. Even if your vet recommends that you do not need the FeLV or FIV vaccination, it is wise to get it anyways unless they already have FeLV or FIV.

Kittens should be tested for FeLV and FIV prior to vaccinationTwo types of tests commonly used for this purpose are an ELIZA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay), which can be performed in a veterinary clinic and is routinely carried out as the initial FeLV screening test; and an IFA (immunofluorescent assay), a confirmatory test that, because of the technology required, must be done at a commercial laboratory. Always have the IFA run as well because many times the snap test can give a false reading.

Vaccinations can begin at 8-12 weeks of age and requires a booster vaccination repeated 3 to 4 weeks later.  This vaccination can begin at 8 weeks of age and should be boostered at 2-3 week intervals for a total of 3 initial vaccines.

The Chlamydophila vaccination is only used in multi cat environments where the infection is known to exist. The vaccination can be given at 9 weeks of age or older when needed and should be boostered 3-4 weeks later. The FIP and Giardia vaccinations are generally not recommended because of safety concerns. Your cat or kitten will need boosters on the core vaccines 1 year following the initial kitten vaccines. After that booster, vaccinations are boostered every 1 to 3 years based on a cat's lifestyle. Non core vaccinations are boostered annually but only for cats at risk.

The cost of vaccinating your kitten depends widely on geographical location, the vet practice or type of vaccination. Many practices offer packages that include a physical exam, a 1st vaccination, a de worming, a test for FeLV and a fecal exam. Some vet hospitals offer a special price for packaged services.

How to introduce kittens to a resident cat

It's easier to introduce a new kitten than an adult cat. This tends to be less challenging for the resident cat. Kitten body language is less threatening and they have yet to learn the idea of territory and competing with others.

It's important to remember that your existing cat will have established territory and the introduction of a new kitten may not be well received. Plan ahead. Arrange for your new kitten to come home on a day when you can fully devote to them like a weekend. Some planning is necessary to prepare the home for the new arrival and the introduction process so purchase or hire a kitten pen and put in a room that your existing cat doesn't really favour like a spare room. Think cat once your new kitten arrives and think scent first.

Your home will have a scent “profile” which is familiar and reassuring to your existing cat. Everything will smell of your cat so your home is well and truly owned by your cat. What you have to try and do is work in the scent of the new kitten so that it too is introduced into the accepted household aroma. This comes down to you. You're working with the invisible so stroke your cat and kitten regularly and swap bedding to enable the kitten's smell to become familiar and incorporated into the household scent.

When the initial contact between cat and kitten takes place, it may be helpful to distract your kitten with food. Letting your kitten eat in the pen while the existing cat explores will help your kitten feel more secure as they are contained and hidden from unwanted attention. You can put out a small bowl of your cat's favourite food a comfortable distance away to encourage eating in safety without being distracted by the sight of the kitten.

Your cat should be allowed to explore the pen without interruption. It is important to provide attention to the existing cat during this period but not to exceed the amount normally accepted or enjoyed. Existing routines should be maintained to show that the kitten represents no loss of enjoyment. Once kitten and cat appear calm when in close proximity to each other (with the kitten inside the pen and the cat outside the pen), the pen can be moved to other rooms leaving out areas where the existing cat enjoys spending most of their time.

Depending on progress, several weeks of this regime may be needed before opening the pen and letting the cats get to know each other. Introductions depend very much on the cat and kitten and how long it's likely to take. Contact between the cat and kitten should be closely supervised in the early stages. It may be advisable to separate the 2 when supervision isn't available until they are completely comfortable with one another. Both kitten and existing cat in the long term should be provided with their own bed, litter box, bowls, etc, positioned in separate locations and their own private areas where they can rest undisturbed by the other.

Introducing children to a new kitten

It is up to the parents from the very beginning to teach children how to stroke, approach and handle kittens and to treat them kindly. Taking on a new kitten when you have kids might be a lot to handle at once so ensuring you have time for all the parties involved, the solution will be a success. When weighing up the pro's and con's, parents need to accept that the majority, if not all, of the chore based care will be carried out by them.

A new kitten needs a great deal of commitment especially in the early stages so the whole family can play a role. The ideal companion for kids would be a confident and well socialised kitten who likes both adults and children and has an endless tolerance of handling and affection. However, even with the most tolerant cat, a parent's role is to teach a child how to appropriately behave around a cat, how to approach, interact and handle them as well as to read the signs when a cat has had enough and always respect their need to spend time alone. Timid and nervous kittens are best avoided with boisterous children as cats and kittens find this very stressful. Shelters and re-homing centres will judge each case on its own merits and carefully match the appropriate kitten with the right family.

Once the decision has been made, it would be helpful to establish the house rules before the kitten arrives, for example:

       Which family member is responsible for each chore
       Decide where the kitten will sleep
       Decide which rooms are out of bounds
       Decide what level of attention is appropriate during the settling in period
       What places should be designated for the kitten only and kids are not allowed to interrupt the kitten while they are there.

Before your new kitten arrives, you will need to register with your local vet as kittens need regular treatment for worms and fleas as they can be a health hazard for your family. Every member of the family should understand the importance of security by keeping external doors and windows shut during the 1st few weeks when the kitten is settling in to its new home. Your kitten will need plenty of escape choices from excitable children so you could provide boxes under beds or scratching posts.

You need to teach your child how to pick up a kitten appropriately and should only pick up kittens who are tolerant of being held. You should always supervise very young children. Teaching kids to behave appropriately around kittens will avoid any bites or scratches or cause the kitten to get stressed. It is difficult to teach a small child to handle a cat appropriately so having baby gates or a space for just the kitten prevents trauma and stress. A few considerations are necessary for those children less capable of following rules, for example:

       Litter trays, food and water bowls are often tempting to small children so these should ideally be kept in areas a child doesn't have access to.
       Make the experience pleasant for the cat as well by offering treats as a reward for tolerating the child's attention.
       For older children, allow them the choice to feed the kitten treats to help the kitten associate children as a positive experience.
       Letting the child play with the kitten with toys is a great way of getting your kids involved with the kitten without physically handling them.

Remember any questions you have you can always call your veterinarian. It is very
important to make sure your kitty has a healthy and happy experience as it grows and 

Our next article will be about spay or neutering your kitten. A female kitten can become 
pregnant as early as 4 months old. It is so important that you spay or neuter your kitten
so we do not have more kittens and cats being put to sleep every year. 

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