Welcome to Watkins Glen Veterinary Hospital, and congratulations on your new pet! The veterinarians and staff of our clinic are dedicated to providing compassionate, thoughtful veterinary care for you and your pets, and we encourage owners to be proactive in the care of their beloved furry family members! We believe preventative medicine is the best way to ensure a long, healthy and happy life for your pet, and the contents of this folder introduce you to the vaccines that we recommend for cats, several of the internal and external parasites that affect cats, and descriptions of the spay/neuter procedures we recommend for all cats. Our veterinarians and technicians are ready to help answer questions or concerns that may arise as you care for your new friend, so please contact us with any concerns, and welcome to Watkins Glen Veterinary Hospital.
Services available at Watkins Glen Veterinary Hospital:
• Annual Physical Examinations and vaccinations
• Sick pet appointments
• Routine surgeries, including spay (ovariohysterectomy) and neuter (orchiectomy)
• Non-routine surgery
• In house laboratory and specialty laboratories
• Radiology (x-ray)
• Dental Services
• Geriatric Health Screening
• Nutritional Counseling
• Hospitalized care
• Website: www.watkinsglenveterinaryhospital.com with online pharmacy
The following pages outline the vaccines that are recommend by the American Association of Feline Practitioners, and describe the diseases the vaccines are intended to prevent. Also included are a description of common internal and external parasites of cats, including some common questions and answers, and a description of the spay and neuter procedures.
Generally, kittens are vaccinated every 3-4 weeks until between the age of 14-16 weeks.
Kittens not nursed should start vaccinations at 6 weeks
It is recommended that all kittens be tested for Feline Leukemia virus (FeLV).
Indoor only adult cats do not need to be vaccinated for FeLV.
Annual vaccination at 1 year of age, then booster FVRCP and Rabies every three years. Cats receiving the FeLV vaccine should be boosted annually (every year).
Kittens and cats older than 12 weeks require two FVRCP vaccinations 3-4 weeks apart and two FeLV vaccines 3-4 weeks apart if they are indoor/outdoor cats.
Kittens and cats must complete their vaccination protocol prior to elective surgery (spay/neuter).
Watkins Glen Veterinary Hospital recommends vaccination for:
Rabies Rabies is an acute viral infection that affects the central nervous system of mammals. It is shed in saliva and typically transmitted by a bite from a rabies infected animal. The incubation period, the period between exposure to the disease and onset of symptoms, ranges from two weeks to two months. Rabies is almost always fatal once symptoms occur. These symptoms may include behavior changes, like unusual aggressiveness, or paralysis of the hindquarters and throat. Rabies is widespread in raccoons in New York State, but is also seen in bats, foxes, skunks and other mammals. Up-to-date vaccinations in dogs and cats can protect these animals against the disease. New York State law mandates that all dogs and cats are current for Rabies vaccination.
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) FeLV is a common and highly contagious virus transmitted primarily in saliva during cat fights or mating, but may also be spread in blood, urine and feces. Kittens may become infected while still in the womb or while nursing the mother. Not all cats exposed to FeLV become infected - about 40% of exposed cats have immune systems that can destroy the invading virus. The remainder of exposed cats become persistently infected (30%) or develops a latent infection (30%). The latter group has inactive virus in their bone marrow, and these virus particles may later become active if the cat becomes ill from another disease, stress or certain drugs. Of persistently infected cats, about 25% will die within one year and 75% will die within 3 years. Some may live a normal life but may have various chronic illnesses. There are no signs specific for FeLV infection. The main effect of the virus is to disrupt the cat's immune system. While anemia is the most common disorder caused by the virus, cancer and various other diseases are common. Disorders commonly associated with FeLV infection include: chronic respiratory disease; chronic infection of the mouth, gums and tongue; chronic eye disease; frequent or chronic skin disease; reproductive disease (abortion, stillbirth and kitten deaths); frequent or chronic urinary tract infections; chronic digestive tract disease; and other systemic diseases (infectious peritonitis, hemobartonellosis, toxoplasmosis, polyarthritis). Vaccination prior to exposure to the virus is the best means of preventing FeLV infection. Without vaccination, isolation from other cats is the only means of prevention.
o Infected cats are at high risk for developing cancer or other life-threatening disease.
o Indoor cats are at low risk for developing FeLV infection
o Outdoor cats are at high risk for developing FeLV infection
o Currently there is no effective treatment for cats infected with FeLV
Panleukopenia Panleukopenia is a viral disease of cats, and is often called feline distemper. It is one of the diseases for which cats are routinely vaccinated (the "P" in combination FVRCP vaccines). It is highly contagious and can be fatal, especially in young cats. Feline panleukopenia is caused by a type of parvovirus closely related to the parvovirus found in dogs. The virus can be spread by direct contact with infected cats but also indirectly by contact with items contaminated with the virus. The virus is very common, survives a long time in the environment, and is resistant to many disinfectants, so virtually all cats will be exposed to this virus at some point. Young kittens are most at risk, along with unvaccinated cats and cats with weakened immune systems. Symptoms of panleukopenia can include any of the following: fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. The virus also causes a marked decrease in white blood cells, leaving affected cats susceptible to secondary bacterial infections. When pregnant queens are infected in early to mid pregnancy, stillbirth is the usual result. When infection occurs late in pregnancy, the kittens may survive but the virus may affect their brain development, causing the kittens to be born with a condition called "cerebellar hypoplasia," which effects the kittens' coordination. The diagnosis of panleukopenia is often strongly suspected based on the history, symptoms, and physical exam. A blood count may reveal a decrease in all types of white blood cells (that is what panleukopenia means). Vaccinations provide good protection against panleukopenia, and are part of the core vaccines routinely given to cats.
Rhinotracheitis (Feline Herpesvirus 1) Herpesvirus 1 (Rhinotracheitis) is a common virus affecting cats - other herpesviruses affect other species. The "FVR" in "FVRCP" combination (three-in-one) vaccines stands for Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, which is caused by feline herpesvirus 1. Herpesvirus 1 mainly causes upper respiratory infections ("colds") in cats. The medical term for these infections is rhinotracheitis. Herpesvirus 1 infections may occur in combination with other viruses or bacteria to produce more severe upper respiratory infections. Cats with Herpesvirus 1 remain infected for life, even though they may not be showing symptoms. The infection can become "reactivated" intermittently, especially during times of stress, and cause a relapse of symptoms and / or shedding of the virus.. Herpesvirus 1 is a very common cause of upper respiratory infections, either alone or in combination with other viruses or bacteria. Signs such as discharge from the eyes and nose, conjunctivitis (red, swollen membranes around eyes), sneezing, drooling, fever, loss of appetite and lethargy are common. Rarely, herpesvirus 1 can cause pneumonia. Herpesvirus 1 infections may also be associated with chronic eye inflammation and ulcers, as well as skin disease, though the exact role of herpesvirus 1 in these conditions is uncertain. Kittens are most at risk of becoming ill with herpesvirus 1 (rhinotracheitis), along with unvaccinated cats and cats with weakened immune systems (e.g., FeLV or FIV positive cats, or those ill from other causes). Some cats vaccinated for rhinotracheitis may still experience mild illness, and vaccinated cats can still become carriers of the virus though they seem to shed the virus (be contagious) less than unvaccinated cats. Signs and symptoms can appear within a couple of days to a couple of weeks after exposure to the virus. The virus can only survive for a few hours in the environment under typical conditions.
Calicivirus Calicivirus is a common virus affecting cats. The "C" in "FVRCP" combination (three-in-one) vaccines stands for calicivirus. There are several different strains of calicivirus, and in cats caliciviruses are most often associated with upper respiratory infections ("colds"). Calicivirus infections may occur in combination with other viruses or bacteria to produce more severe upper respiratory infections. Illness due to calicivirus varies in severity. Some feline calicivirus strains cause limping due to arthritis. Rare, but particularly virulent, strains of feline calicivirus cause a very severe and often fatal illness. Cats with calicivirus can remain infected for a very long time after the symptoms resolve (sometimes a lifetime), and can act as a source of infection for other cats. The virus causes upper respiratory infections, either alone or in combination with other viruses or bacteria. Signs such as discharge from the eyes and nose, sores in the mouth, fever, loss of appetite and lethargy are common. Sometimes limping may be seen, and some cases result in pneumonia. Calicivirus infections are also almost always found in cats with chronic inflammation of the mouth and gums (stomatitis / gingivitis). However, it is unclear what role, if any, calicivirus has in the development of this disease. Kittens are most at risk of becoming ill with calicivirus, along with unvaccinated cats and cats with weakened immune systems (e.g., FeLV or FIV positive cats, or those ill from other causes). Calicivirus strains are so variable that the vaccines don't protect equally against all strains, so some vaccinated cats may still experience mild illness. Vaccinated cats can still become carriers of the virus. Signs and symptoms can appear within a couple of days to a couple of weeks after exposure to the virus.
Parasites of Kittens and Cats
Parasite Control Recommendations for Cats (The Companion Animal Parasite Council)
The use of year-round broad-spectrum parasite medications, as well as appropriate flea and/or tick products, is the foundation of an effective parasite control program for your cat.
In addition, the following steps can be part of a proactive program to help keep your cat healthy and parasite-free:
• Have your cat examined annually by your veterinarian and include a complete history.
• Provide pets commercial or prepared food (not raw meat) and fresh, potable water.
• Conduct fecal examinations 2 to 4 times during the first year of life and 1 to 2 times each year for adults, depending on the pet's health and lifestyle factors.
• Administer anthelmintic treatment to puppies and kittens starting at two weeks of age repeating every two weeks until 8 weeks of age, followed by monthly treatments as a preventive.
• Also deworm nursing mothers (queens) along with their kittens.
Internal Parasites of Kittens and Cats
Roundworm in Cats
Roundworms are the most common of the parasitic worms found inside a cat. Almost all cats become infected with them at some time in their lives, usually as kittens. Roundworms may be contracted in different ways, making them easy to spread and hard to control.
Your cat may take in (ingest) infective roundworm eggs from the area where it lives or by eating mice or other small animals ("hosts") carrying young worms (larvae). Infection in kittens may occur through the mother's milk.
How will roundworms affect my cat?
Adult roundworms live in the affected cat's intestines. Most cats will not have signs of infection; however, cats with major roundworm infections commonly show weight loss, dull hair, and a potbellied appearance. The cat may cough if the roundworms move into the lungs.
You may notice adult roundworms in your cat's feces or vomit. They will appear white or light brown in color and may be several inches long.
How do I prevent my cat from getting roundworms?
Because roundworms can enter your cat's body in many different ways, it is essential to keep your cat's living area clean (regular cleaning of the litter box) and, if possible, prevent your cat from eating wild animals that may carry roundworms.
Kittens should be treated for roundworms every 2 weeks between 3 and 9 weeks of age and then receive a preventive treatment monthly. Fecal (stool) examinations should be conducted 2 to 4 times during the first year of life and 1 or 2 times each year in adults. Nursing mothers (queens) should be kept on monthly preventive and treated along with their kittens. Many heartworm medications also control roundworms. Ask your veterinarian about prevention and treatment choices.
Can humans be harmed by roundworms?
Roundworms do pose a significant risk to humans. Contact with contaminated soil or feces can result in human ingestion and infection. Roundworm eggs may accumulate in significant numbers in the soil where pets deposit feces. Children should not be allowed to play where animals have passed feces. Individuals who have direct contact with soil that may have been contaminated by cat or dog feces should wear gloves or wash their hands immediately.
Tapeworm in Cats
Tapeworms are long, flat worms that attach themselves to your cat's intestines. A tapeworm body consists of multiple parts, or segments, each with its own reproductive organs. Tapeworm infections are usually diagnosed by finding segments-which appear as small white worms that may look like grains of rice or seeds-on the rear end of your cat, in your cat's feces, or where your cat lives and sleeps.
There are several different species of tapeworms that may infect your cat, each with stage(s) in a different intermediate (in-between) host, which the cat eats. Some use fleas as the intermediate host; others use small rodents, such as mice and squirrels, as intermediate hosts.
How will tapeworms affect my cat?
Cats rarely show any signs associated with tapeworm infection. Occasionally infection with uncommon tapeworms results in disease, however.
How do I prevent my cat from getting tapeworms?
Try to keep your cat from coming in contact with intermediate hosts that contain tapeworm larvae. Because fleas are an intermediate host for the most common kind of tapeworm, flea control is an essential prevention measure.
If you think your cat is infected with tapeworms, call your veterinarian for an appointment to get an accurate diagnosis and safe, effective treatment options.
Can humans be harmed by tapeworms?
Certain tapeworms found in dogs or cats may cause serious disease in humans. Fortunately, these tapeworms (Echinococcus species) are uncommon in the United States and are readily treated by prescriptions available from your veterinarian. There are rare reports of Dipylidium (a common tapeworm in pets) infections in children, but these infections are not associated with significant disease.
Hookworm in Cats
Similar to tapeworms and roundworms, hookworms are intestinal parasites that live in the digestive system of your cat (or dogs). The hookworm attaches to the lining of the intestinal wall and feeds on your cat's blood. Its eggs are ejected into the digestive tract and pass into the environment through your cat's feces.
Larvae (young hookworms) that hatch from hookworm eggs live in the soil and can infect your cat simply through contact with and penetration of the skin and through eating the hookworm larvae. It is common for hookworms to infect the host through a cat's belly or feet as well as to be ingested during the cat's routine licking (cleaning.)
How will hookworms affect my cat?
Hookworms will cause bleeding into the intestinal tract resulting in internal blood loss. They may cause death in young kittens. Blood transfusions may be necessary to keep young animals alive long enough for medications that kill the worms to take effect. Adult cats may also suffer blood loss from hookworms and can have diarrhea and show weight loss.
If you think your cat is infected with hookworms, call your veterinarian to schedule an appointment for evaluation, diagnosis, and safe, effective treatment.
How do I prevent my cat from getting hookworms?
Similar to steps for prevention of other intestinal parasites, it is essential to keep your cat's surroundings clean and prevent the cat from being in contaminated areas, if possible.
Kittens should be treated for hookworms every 2 weeks between 3 and 9 weeks of age, followed by administration of a monthly treatment. Fecal examinations should be conducted 2 to 4 times during the first year of life and 1 to 2 times per year in adults. Nursing mothers should be treated along with their kittens.
Several heartworm medications also treat hookworms. Consult your veterinarian for safe and effective prevention and treatment options.
Can humans be harmed by hookworms?
Some hookworms of cats can infect humans by penetrating the skin. This is most likely to occur when walking barefoot on the beach or other areas where pets deposit feces. Infection usually results in an itching sensation at the point where the larvae enter the skin and visible tracks on the skin. The condition is easily treated but can cause mild to extreme discomfort in the affected person.
External Parasites of Kittens and Cats
Fleas on Cats
Fleas are the most common external parasite found on cats (and dogs). (Parasites are "freeloaders" that live in or on another creature.) Although fleas are more likely to be a problem during warm-weather months, they can also cause problems during cooler seasons due to their ability to continue their life cycle indoors.
How will fleas affect my cat?
You will probably first notice the effects of fleas when your cat repeatedly nibbles at and licks its haircoat and skin. On occasion you may actually see tiny brown fleas moving quickly through your cat's haircoat. Cats are very skilled groomers, however, and may remove fleas so well that you do not see them. Your cat's constant nibbling and licking may lead to noticeable patches of hair loss, tiny crusts (called miliary dermatitis by your veterinarian), and reddened, irritated skin. Fleas may also cause skin allergies and can transmit other parasites, such as tapeworms, to your cat.
How do I check my cat for fleas?
Adult fleas are usually more difficult to find on cats than on dogs. One of the best methods for checking your cat for fleas is to look for flea dirt (actually flea feces) in your cat's haircoat.
To check for flea dirt, briskly comb or rub a section of the hair on your cat's back while your cat is sitting or lying on a white piece of paper. If your cat has fleas, black flecks that look like dirt (as a result, we use the term "flea dirt) will fall onto the paper. If you transfer these black flecks to a damp piece of paper, in a short time they will appear red or rust-colored (see Figure 1). The red color results because blood sucked from your cat is passed in the flea's waste matter. If the dirt specks do not turn red, then they are probably "regular" dirt.
How do I prevent my cat from getting fleas?
To control fleas, you must stop them from reproducing. Carpets, pet bedding, furniture, and other indoor areas where your cat spends much time will contain the highest number of developing fleas. Frequent vacuuming of these areas and frequent washing of pet bedding can greatly reduce the number of developing fleas inside your home.
Fleas also develop in shady, protected outdoor areas, although the outdoor areas are usually of less concern to pet owners who only have cats and do not have dogs. Most flea problems can be managed by treating and preventing fleas right on your cat. Remember that dogs and cats can share fleas, so be sure that dogs in your house are treated, too. It is important to remember that flea problems may be different from pet to pet or between households, and each problem may require a special method of control.
Steps to Take
See your veterinarian for advice on your specific situation. Your veterinarian can recommend safe and effective products for controlling fleas and can determine exactly what you need. Your veterinarian can also determine whether you should consult with a pest control specialist about treating your home and yard.
Ticks on Cats
Ticks are a common pest for animals that are outside for any period of time and are found throughout the United States. Tick species tend to vary in different geographic regions so check with your veterinarian about the common tick in your area. Typically, ticks are most prevalent during the warmer months, with peaks in the spring and fall, but this may vary depending on the tick species in question. Environmental conditions may extend the peak season.
Ticks bury their heads in the skin of your cat and gorge themselves on blood, causing mild irritation; however, ticks may also carry several debilitating diseases that pose a serious threat to animals and humans.
How will ticks affect my cat?
Ticks rarely cause clinical signs unless a disease has been transmitted. Symptoms of infection may include the following:
3. Loss of appetite
4. Lethargy or depression
How do I prevent my cat from getting ticks?
Most ticks, approximately the size of a pinhead prior to feeding, are not spotted until they become engorged with your cat's blood. Regardless of how long the tick has been feeding on your pet, you should remove it immediately with tweezers while wearing gloves. Any contact with the tick's blood can transmit infection. Ask your veterinarian for proper tick removal methods because simply pulling the tick off of your animal can leave the mouth, head, or other body parts attached to your cat.
If you live in areas that contain heavy populations of ticks, check your cat often and consult your veterinarian for the latest methods of control.
Ear Mites in Cats
Ear mites are tiny mites that live on the surface of ear canal skin of cats (or dogs). They are barely visible to the human eye. An infestation produces tiny black specks, similar to coffee grounds. Ear mites can multiply quickly prior to detection.
How will ear mites affect my cat?
The mite infestation is usually detected because the cat displays irritation in the ear by scratching. The ear may become red and inflamed, and skin diseases may result from the ear mite infestation.
How do I prevent my cat from getting ear mites?
It's important to check your cat's ears if it is scratching them often or if the ears appear red and inflamed. Ear mites are transmitted through social interaction with other infested cats, so all pets should be checked regularly at home and by your veterinarian for possible ear mite infestation. Ear mites are treatable with a number of products currently on the market. Because the infestation is easily transmitted between animals, all animals in the household (both cats and dogs) should be treated for ear mites. Consult your veterinarian for a definitive diagnosis and treatment options.
Can humans be harmed by ear mites?
Ear mites are not generally considered a risk to humans.
Spaying or Neutering Your New Kitten
Watkins Glen Veterinary Hospital recommends that all female kittens be spayed (ovariohysterectomy) and all male kittens be neutered (orchiectomy).
At Watkins Glen Veterinary Hospital we make every effort to ensure the safety of your pet during anesthesia and surgery. We recommend pre-operative blood tests that provide insight into your kitten's health and enable us to screen for pre-existing disorders that may be undetectable on routine physical examination. These tests may be performed in our clinic prior to or on the day of surgery. During surgery your pet is placed on a thermal blanket to support body temperature, and a technician monitors your pet with a pulse oximeter, blood pressure monitor, thermal blanket and EKG to ensure their safety while under general anesthesia.
Neutering the Male Cat
Neutering a male cat is an excellent step to help your young man grow into a loving, well adapted household citizen. The main reason to neuter a male cat is to reduce the incidence of objectionable behaviors that are normal in the feline world but unacceptable in the human world.
Roaming: More than 90% will reduce this behavior with neutering. Approximately 60% reduce this behavior right away
Fighting: More than 90% will reduce this behavior with neutering Approximately 60% reduce this behavior right away
Urine marking: More than 90% will reduce this behavior with neutering. Approximately 80% reduce this behavior right away.
What is Done During Surgery
The feline neuter is one of the simplest surgical procedures performed in veterinary medicine. The cat is fasted overnight so that anesthesia is given on an empty stomach. The scrotum is opened with a small incision and the testicles are brought out. The cords are either pulled free and tied to each other or a small suture is used to tie the cords and the testicle is cut free. The skin incision on the scrotum is small enough so as not to require stitches of any kind.
There is minimal recovery with this procedure. Some clinics discharge kittens the same day as surgery. There should be no bleeding or swelling. It is a good idea not to bathe the kitten until the incisions have healed for 10 to 14 days from the time of surgery.
Spaying the Female Cat
Spaying your cat is an important part of basic cat health care. Spaying at a young age prevents mammary cancer and spaying at any age prevents unwanted kittens, noisy heat cycles, and possibly even urine marking in the house.
What is Done During Surgery:
Spaying is an ovariohysterectomy, which means that both the ovaries and the uterus are removed. Once in the abdomen, the veterinarian uses absorbable suture material to tie off the blood vessels that supply the ovaries and uterus, and those tissues are removed. The abdomen is closed with absorbable suture material, and the skin is closed with sutures buried underneath the skin.
What can I expect regarding recovery period/incision care?
During the recovery period, it is not unusual to notice swelling at the incision site. Cats often react this way to internal sutures and this kind of swelling is common and resolves spontaneously. Such swellings are firm and there is no fluid drainage or bleeding from the incision. They generally resolve in 3 to 4 weeks. Any fluid drainage from the incision is abnormal and if possible the cat should be rechecked by the veterinarian who performed the spay.
What if she is in heat at the time of spay?
Some female cats are disruptive when they are in heat, yowling and carrying on, and they are spayed to end the heat quickly. Other cats are spayed in heat randomly when the owner does not realize that the cat is in heat. In either case the spay is slightly more difficult due to the engorgement of the tissues and larger blood vessels. Spaying in heat does not carry a significant risk to the cat but, since extra surgery time is frequently required, an extra charge may be incurred.
What if she is pregnant at the time of spay?
Spaying can be performed at any time during the course of pregnancy. Often, the owner is unaware that the cat is pregnant. Due to extra work and surgery time, most veterinarians will charge an extra fee for spaying a pregnant animal. We encourage spaying of strays or newly adopted female cats regardless of pregnancy. There are simply too many kittens without homes as it is.
Will spaying affect her personality?
The female cat spends at least half the year with her reproductive tract dormant (cats only cycle seasonally, primarily in the spring and summer). This means that, behaviorally speaking, she acts spayed most of the time and no personality change should be noted. This said, it is important to realize that a cycling cat can be extremely solicitous of affection. This kind of playful, flirtatious behavior will stop with spaying.
How long after having kittens can she be spayed?
The mammary (breast) development that comes with nursing can make the spay surgery more difficult. Ideally, a month after weaning allows for regression of this tissue and spaying can proceed. Unfortunately, it is possible for a female cat to become pregnant during this waiting period if her owner is not careful.
At what age can my cat be spayed?
The traditional age for spaying is six months; however, this practice has enabled kittens to be adopted from the shelters unspayed. Often the new owner fails to return for spaying and the result is further contribution to the pet over-population problem. The last 20 years has brought us a great deal of research into "early" spaying and we now know that there is no problem with spaying as early as 8 weeks of age.
Will she get fat and lazy after spaying?
Estrogens have a natural appetite suppressing effect and the loss of estrogens may lead to an increased appetite. Further, sterilization surgery has been shown to slow a cat's metabolism. Depending on the cat's age and activity level at the time of surgery, a diet change to a "lite" diet may be in order.
Can she still come into heat after spaying?
Without ovaries, she should be unable to come into heat. Occasionally, a remnant of ovarian tissue is left behind by mistake. This can lead to some annoying behaviors as the female cat comes into heat (though she would be unable to get pregnant if her uterus has been removed as is customary with spaying). Special testing or even surgical exploration may be needed to determine if there is an ovarian remnant.