Cats are susceptible to many contagious diseases, most of which are caused by viruses. Fortunately, vaccines are available to prevent our feline friends from succumbing to several of the worst ones. Georgetown Veterinary Clinic’s series of four Distemper (FVRCP) injections (approximately three weeks apart) provides the necessary immunity for kittens. The vaccine series is usually started at six to eight weeks of age. The FVRCP vaccine is then given as an annual booster for the remainder of the cat’s life.
Your kitten will be vaccinated against rabies when he or she is approximately 4 months old. Virginia state law requires that all cats over 4 months of age have current rabies vaccination status. Your kitten will receive a rabies vaccine booster at his or her one year visit and the vaccine will repeated once every 3 years to maintain the current vaccination status thereafter.
If your kitten will be going outside we also recommend vaccinating against feline viral leukemia (FeLV). The initial vaccine protocol is a series of two injections. The first injection is followed in three to four weeks by the second. An annual booster is given to maintain protection. Viral leukemia in cats is a prevalent, highly transmissible, and potentially life threatening disease. Though recognized since the early 1960’s, current medical technology offers no cure for infected cats. Several effective prophylactic (preventive) vaccines have been developed.
The FVRCP vaccine provides protection against three contagious feline viral diseases. The following is a brief explanation of each:
FELINE VIRAL RHINOTHRACHEITIS (FVR)
Rhinotracheitis is a severe upper respiratory infection caused by a feline type 1 herpes-virus. It is most severe in young kittens and older cats, and is one of the most serious upper respiratory diseases seen in the feline species. The virus is airborne and very contagious for susceptible animals.
Cats with this infection are lethargic, and show signs of respiratory involvement with much sneezing and coughing. There is usually a discharge from the nostrils and the eyes, and a fever is common. Some cats develop pneumonia and occasionally ulcerations in the eyes. Infected cats do not want to eat or drink because the nostrils are plugged and the throat is sore. Dehydration and weight loss are common.
The disease is debilitating and chronic. Many cats require hospitalization, intravenous fluids and intensive care to help them get over the infection. Antibiotics are given to treat secondary bacterial infections. Some cats suffer permanent damage to the eyes and the respiratory system. Fortunately, the vaccine is effective in preventing this disease when administered as recommended.
There are several strains of calicivirus that affect the cat. They can cause a range of diseases, from a mild, nearly asymptomatic infection, to life-threatening pneumonia. Most cases show only evidence of problems in the mouth, nasal passages and the conjunctiva (mucus membranes) of the eyes.
Early signs are loss of appetite, fever and lethargy. Later, sneezing, oral ulcers and discharge from the eyes are seen. The course of the disease in uncomplicated cases is short, and recovery may be expected in seven to ten days. Some of the more virulent strains can cause severe symptoms and may cause rapid death in young kittens and older cats.
The disease is transmitted by direct contact with an infected cat or object (bowl, cage, brush, blanket, etc.) that harbors the virus. The virus can survive eight to ten days in the environment. Carrier cats can pass the virus into the environment for up to one year.
Panleukopenia (also known as feline distemper and infectious feline enteritis) is a highly contagious disease characterized by a short course and high mortality rate. The disease is caused by a parvovirus similar to the parvovirus seen in dogs. It is very resistant and may remain infectious in the environment for up to one year.
The disease is most severe in young kittens, but can affect cats of all ages. The first symptom is loss of appetite, followed by vomiting and diarrhea. A blood count usually shows a lowered number of white blood cells, a clue which helps in diagnosing the infection.
Infected cats usually must be hospitalized with intensive treatment such as intravenous fluids, antibiotic and supportive care. Mortality rate may reach 90% in young kittens under six months, and may approach 50% in older animals. Fortunately, the vaccine is very effective in preventing the disease.
Flea and tick prevention:
No one wants to have six or eight legged parasites hitching a ride on their pets! Not only can fleas and ticks cause skin irritation, inflammation and itching, but they can transmit serious and sometimes fatal diseases to our furry friends, not to mention to us as well. Our friendly staff will work with you to determine the best external parasite prevention plan for you and your kitten now and in the future when he or she is an adult.
Intestinal parasites, commonly known as worms (yuck!), will be addressed during your kitten’s first wellness visit here at GVH. A simple stool sample can divulge whether your kitten has an active parasite infestation and our staff will administer any anthelmintic agents deemed necessary.
Please make an appointment for your kitten’s vaccinations by calling 434 977 4600.