Kitten Care

Congratulations on your new kitten!

There will be a lot of information given to you over the next couple of months, and it can be overwhelming, so the first rule is – never be afraid to ask, and ask again if you’re not sure. The vet will give you a lot of information at the vaccination consult, but the nurses are a great resource of information on puppy care and behaviour too, and will be happy to talk you through anything you’re not sure about.

Your vet will recommend vaccination depending on the diseases prevalent in the area. We do not see feline leukaemia virus so do not routinely carry the vaccine.

At our clinics we recommend two kitten vaccinations, one at 6-8 weeks (check with the previous owner as this may have already been given, please provide the vet with details if you have them). The second vaccination should be at about 12 weeks of age. In the Coffs Harbour area we recommend an “F3” (herpesvirus, calicivirus, panleukopaenia). For cats that spend anytime outdoors unsupervised, the FIV vaccine is also recommended – this vaccination requires three initial vaccinations so can be matched up with the two core vaccinations, so either at weeks 8, 10 (FIV only) and 12, or weeks 8, 12 and 14(FIV only). It is extremely important that you keep the FIV vaccination up to date every year to maintain protection, so please remind your vet if your cat requires the FIV vaccination.

 

Microchipping

If your kitten has not been microchipped already, it is important that you do so as soon as possible, even if you don’t plan to register your kitten straight away in case of loss or theft. A microchip can be implanted by any registered person – all of our vets are registered, as well as one of our nurses. The cost of microchipping does not include council registration – the microchip details will be passed on to the council by the registered person, and you will receive a notification to register your pet from the council by post. The cost of lifetime registration of your cat will depend on whether your pet is desexed:

Registration of a desexed cat: $49

Registration of a desexed cat owned by a pensioner: $19

Entire cat (no pensioner discount): $182

 

Intestinal worming

Intestinal worming should start at 2 weeks of age, so check with the previous owner when they last wormed your new kitten. We recommend intestinal worming every two weeks until 12weeks of age, then every month until 6months of age.

 

Fleas and ticks

Check your new kitten for fleas before taking it home if you can – giving a fast-acting flea treatment early (such as Capstar or Frontline spray) can prevent flea infestations in your house.

There are many flea products on the market, and your vet or nurse will be able to advise you which is best for your needs. Some products that treat for fleas also cover other parasites; revolution and advocate also treat mites and some intestinal worms, but they do not cover ticks so in general we do not recommend them for use in the Coffs area.

Frontline spray is the only licenced product to prevent paralysis ticks in cats and can be used from 2days of age. Correct application protects against paralysis ticks for up to three weeks.

DO NOT use Advantix on cats – this product is highly toxic! We also recommend not using Advantix on dogs that regularly have contact with cats for this reason.

 

Desexing

We recommend that all pet cats are desexed, and that this is done at 6months of age. These low risk, routine surgical procedures usually do not require an overnight stay in hospital.

The cost of a desexing procedure is heavily discounted to encourage all owners to protect their pet against so many unnecessary problems. In addition, registering your desexed cat with the council costs $40 ($15 for pensioners) – $110 less than an entire (non-desexed) dog ($135 less for pensioners!), which makes the procedure a very affordable choice for everyone – a male cat desexing procedure costs less than what you save in registration fees!

Desexing male cats early can help prevent spraying, wandering and fighting, which in turn decreases the risk of being run over, abscesses, loosing your cat and contracting FIV. Not to mention reducing the risk of unwanted litters!

Desexing female cats early reduces the risk of spraying, wandering and contracting FIV. Desexing early is important, as once cats begin cycling it is difficult to catch them not pregnant and not in season, both of which would increase the surgical risk and cost.

 

Pet insurance

Pet insurance is sadly overlooked by the majority of pet owners, but many owners do not have the money available in an emergency (such as hit by car, tick paralysis or broken leg) or with a chronic disease (such as diabetes, cancer or kidney disease) for treatment. These owners have to opt for sub optimum care, or in some instances euthanasia.

Although pet insurance plans may sound expensive initially, consider how much money your previous pet (or a friend’s pet) has cost in vet bills that might have been covered by a policy.

When choosing a pet insurance plan, consider whether the following things are important to you:

  • LIFELONG COVER– some plans will only cover your pet to a certain age. Cats can live up to 20-25years, so it is a good idea to pick a plan that does not exclude pets once they reach a certain age. Old cats often have expensive problems!
  • CONDITIONS/EXCLUSIONS – consider that any problems that are excluded are the problems they are more likely to develop, so a comprehensive plan without exclusions may be a better choice.
  • DISEASE/ILLNESS COVER – cheaper plans may only offer accidental injury cover. For example, this means that if your cat is hit by a car or bitten by a snake they will be covered, but if your cat develops diabetes, ear infections, or kidney disease they probably won’t be. It is also important to choose a plan that covers the illness lifelong (as well as the cat!), as some plans will only cover the first six months or a year after diagnosis.
  • TICK PARALYSIS – believe it or not, some pet insurance companies won’t cover tick paralysis, and this could be in the smallprint so always check that tick paralysis is covered – in the Coffs area this is probably the most likely thing you will have to claim for.
  • LIMITS AND EXCESS – this is really down to personal choice. The cost of your policy will often depend on how much excess you are willing to pay, and how much cover you expect. Very high limits may only be necessary to cover referral to a specialist for expensive or complicated cases. If you have a high limit on your policy, you may elect for some surgeries or cases to be tackled by a specialist rather than a first opinion vet, so let your vet know if your pet is insured and ask whether a specialist opinion would be of benefit.
  • EXTRAS – again, this is a personal choice, but some plans offer money back on routine procedures such as desexing and vaccinations up to a certain amount per year. It is up to you whether you think you would rather pay for these things separately.