Cat and Kitten Care
Rabies is a fatal disease of the nervous system. It is caused by a virus that can infect all warm-blooded animals, including humans. The virus attacks the brain and spinal cord, causing severe nervous system dysfunction and eventually death. The most common way to contract rabies is through a bite from an infected animal. When a rabid animal bites, rabies virus in its saliva passes through the broken skin of the victim. Rabid cats can also transmit rabies through their scratches if they have saliva on their paws.
In Alberta, the most common victims of rabies are wild animals. Skunks have the highest rate of infection although bats, coyotes, foxes, and raccoons are also very susceptible. Cats, dogs, cattle and horses usually contract rabies through encounters with rabid wildlife. We use a special rabies vaccine manufactured by Merial called Purevax. It is the safest known vaccine for cats.
First dose given at 12 -16 weeks of age
Next dose given 1 year after first dose
Subsequent doses given every year
Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis
Just as with the common cold in humans, the virus that causes this upper respiratory tract infection is easily transmitted from one cat to another, so vaccination is imperative if your pet will come in contact with other cats. Its symptoms may take the form of moderate fever, loss of appetite, sneezing, eye and nasal discharges, and coughing. Kittens are particularly affected, but this disease can be dangerous in any unprotected cat as effective treatment is limited. Even if a cat recovers, it can remain a carrier for life.
This virus is another major cause of upper respiratory tract infection in cats. Widespread and highly contagious, its symptoms of fever, ulcers and blisters on the tongue, and pneumonia (inflammation of the lungs) can range from mild to severe, depending on which strain of the virus is present. Treatment of this disease can be difficult. Even if your cat does recover, he or she can continue to infect other animals, as well as experience chronic sneezing, runny eyes, and severe gum disease. Vaccination is tremendously important.
Panleukopenia is a parvovirus infection that is primarily transmitted by the fecal–oral route. Sometimes known as feline distemper, this disease is caused by a virus so resistant it can survive over a year outside a cat’s body. Because most cats will be exposed to it during their lifetimes and infection rates in unprotected cats can run as high as 90–100%, vaccination against this usually fatal disease is absolutely essential. Symptoms range from lethargy, listlessness, fever, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Every 3–4 weeks from 6–8 weeks of age to 16–18 weeks of age
Next dose 1 year later
Subsequent dose 1–2 years
Infection with the feline leukemia virus can result in many serious health problems for your cat — everything from cancerous conditions such as lymphoma to a wide range of secondary infections caused by the destruction of the immune system. It is the leading cause of death in North American cats. After initial exposure to the virus, a cat may show no symptoms for months, if not years, yet all the while infect others. Testing is available to determine the FeLV status of your cat. If he or she has not yet been infected, but is likely to come in contact with cats that are, vaccination against this fatal disease is highly recommended.
First dose at 9–12 weeks of age
Next dose 3 weeks later
Subsequent dose annually
Up-to-date vaccination records are important, especially if you board or travel with your pet. We recommend keeping these records handy in order to avoid any last minute confusion.