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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, August 7, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesKITTEN VETERINARY CARE

KITTEN VETERINARY CARE

Kittens, like infants, need a series of vaccinations in order to maintain optimal health. Feline infectious diseases and parasites are prevalent in our environment. Your kitten is at risk even if it does not have direct contact with other cats. Routine vaccinations and deworming can prevent many of these problems.
Your new kitten generally will need a series of two vaccinations 3-4 weeks apart starting around 8 weeks of age. The first vaccination, feline distemper vaccine, is actually a combination vaccine for four different viruses:
1) Feline panleukopenia – a debilitating disease that causes a severe anemia, diarrhea, and bone marrow suppression. This virus is very common in the soil and environment. The vaccine is highly effective in preventing this disease.
2) Feline calcivirus and rhinotracheitis cause severe upper respiratory disease and vaccination decreases the severity of infection and will help prevent a long term carrier state.
3) Feline chlamydia (pneumonitis) causes severe respiratory and ocular infections. Vaccination greatly decreases the severity of the infection.
The feline leukemia vaccine is also highly recommended and is given on the same schedule as the distemper vaccine. Feline leukemia virus is similar to the human AIDS virus, and cats can be carriers of the virus for long periods of time before becoming symptomatic.
Ideally, the kitten should have a blood test for this disease prior to vaccination.
Rabies vaccination is also recommended and is performed after the kitten is 12 weeks of age. The Virgin Islands are considered as free of rabies disease, but the vaccination is required for travel off-island.
Intestinal parasites are very common in young kittens. A fecal examination by the veterinarian will identify any worm eggs (roundworms, hookworms, or tapeworms) and protozoal organisms (giardia or coccidia).
Appropriate treatment for the parasites identified will be prescribed.
Roundworms are transmitted to newborn kittens by their mother and are found in almost all young kittens.
Heartworm disease is often considered a dog illness, but cats are infected as well. The organism, Dirofilaria immitus, is transmitted by mosquitoes so all cats are at risk. Though cats are more resistant than dogs to the infection, no treatment for cats is available so the disease is even more serious than in dogs. Heartworm disease, as well as roundworms and hookworms, can be prevented by administration of a chewable tablet once a month.
Spaying or neutering your kitten is advised prior to six months of age. Neutering male cats decreases roaming, fighting, and urinary marking or spraying. Spaying female cats eliminates behavior associated with the heat cycle, reduces incidence of mammary cancer, and most importantly will prevent future litters and overpopulation.
Currently many kittens are in need of homes. If you can provide for any of these youngsters please contact the Animal Care Center of St. John or Cruz Bay Canines, Cats, & Critters. When these kittens are placed in homes, others can be saved from a life in the bush.
Editor's note: Dr. Laura Palminteri Practices veterinary medicine at Cruz Bay Canines, Cats & Critters on St. John. A 1991 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, she practiced small animal and equine medicine in New York before opening her practice on St. John.

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Kittens, like infants, need a series of vaccinations in order to maintain optimal health. Feline infectious diseases and parasites are prevalent in our environment. Your kitten is at risk even if it does not have direct contact with other cats. Routine vaccinations and deworming can prevent many of these problems.
Your new kitten generally will need a series of two vaccinations 3-4 weeks apart starting around 8 weeks of age. The first vaccination, feline distemper vaccine, is actually a combination vaccine for four different viruses:
1) Feline panleukopenia - a debilitating disease that causes a severe anemia, diarrhea, and bone marrow suppression. This virus is very common in the soil and environment. The vaccine is highly effective in preventing this disease.
2) Feline calcivirus and rhinotracheitis cause severe upper respiratory disease and vaccination decreases the severity of infection and will help prevent a long term carrier state.
3) Feline chlamydia (pneumonitis) causes severe respiratory and ocular infections. Vaccination greatly decreases the severity of the infection.
The feline leukemia vaccine is also highly recommended and is given on the same schedule as the distemper vaccine. Feline leukemia virus is similar to the human AIDS virus, and cats can be carriers of the virus for long periods of time before becoming symptomatic.
Ideally, the kitten should have a blood test for this disease prior to vaccination.
Rabies vaccination is also recommended and is performed after the kitten is 12 weeks of age. The Virgin Islands are considered as free of rabies disease, but the vaccination is required for travel off-island.
Intestinal parasites are very common in young kittens. A fecal examination by the veterinarian will identify any worm eggs (roundworms, hookworms, or tapeworms) and protozoal organisms (giardia or coccidia).
Appropriate treatment for the parasites identified will be prescribed.
Roundworms are transmitted to newborn kittens by their mother and are found in almost all young kittens.
Heartworm disease is often considered a dog illness, but cats are infected as well. The organism, Dirofilaria immitus, is transmitted by mosquitoes so all cats are at risk. Though cats are more resistant than dogs to the infection, no treatment for cats is available so the disease is even more serious than in dogs. Heartworm disease, as well as roundworms and hookworms, can be prevented by administration of a chewable tablet once a month.
Spaying or neutering your kitten is advised prior to six months of age. Neutering male cats decreases roaming, fighting, and urinary marking or spraying. Spaying female cats eliminates behavior associated with the heat cycle, reduces incidence of mammary cancer, and most importantly will prevent future litters and overpopulation.
Currently many kittens are in need of homes. If you can provide for any of these youngsters please contact the Animal Care Center of St. John or Cruz Bay Canines, Cats, & Critters. When these kittens are placed in homes, others can be saved from a life in the bush.
Editor's note: Dr. Laura Palminteri Practices veterinary medicine at Cruz Bay Canines, Cats & Critters on St. John. A 1991 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, she practiced small animal and equine medicine in New York before opening her practice on St. John.