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Get your new kitten or cat checked out with a veterinarian and establish a schedule for his immunizations. Kittens need to be inoculated at the age 9 weeks with a three-in-one vaccine that protects against Feline calicivirus and feline herpesvirus 1, which are responsible for the feline upper respiratory tract disease (cat flu) and the feline leukaemia virus. The same vaccination is repeated at 9 and 12 weeks. At one year three months, they are due for a booster dose. Every year the booster dose should be repeated, for keeping your kitten healthy and protect them from infectious diseases.
There is also vaccination for feline infectious enteritis. The rabies and Corona vaccines are separate and given at three months. All vaccines need an annual booster.
Kittens are vulnerable to many viral diseases. Symptoms of sickness to look out for are loss of appetite i.e any marked change in their dietary habits, reluctance to move about or go outside, unusual lethargy or aggressiveness, weight loss, lameness or difficulty in moving. Make a note of the symptoms and furnish all the details to the vet so that he can make an accurate diagnosis. Some of the common infectious diseases are
Upper respiratory tract infections (Cat Flu):
These infections of the nose and throat are commonly caused by one of the two viruses Feline calicivirus (FCV) and feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR). The symptoms are discharge of mucus from eyes or nose, excessive salivation, tongue ulcers, loss of appetite, lethargy followed by fever and sneezing. Symptoms and effects of FVR is more severe than FCV. Survival is rare among kittens and older cats infected by FVR. Cats who survive may become partially or totally blind or become carriers of the disease, infectious to other cats.
The main complication of FCV include pneumonia. Isolation and immediate veterinary interventionis needed for both the diseases. These highly infectious diseases can spread through close contact between cats during shows, in catteries et. The best option is to take preventive vaccinations against them.
Feline leukemia virus:
This highly infectious and almost fatal disease is caused by a group of viruses known as retro viruses. Although the virus may be present in the blood, faeces, mucus and saliva of cats, it is mainly spread through saliva. Symptoms include chronic weight loss, fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, difficulty in breathing etc but these may occur only after months and years after infection. Most commonly the only visible symptom after infection will be slight listlessness which may very well go unnoticed. There is preventive vaccination for the disease, but once infected, the vaccination is of no use and there is no drugs available for treatment. Isolation is needed for preventing the spread of the disease to other cats.
This virus causing Feline enteritis or Panleukopaenia can damage a number of tissues including intestines and bone marrow and can survive outside a cats body for up to one year. Symptoms include diarrohea ( sometimes bloody), vomiting, high fever, pain if touched etc. There is a vaccination against the disease for kittens. The highly contagious disease which strikes quickly and even lead to death but those cats which survive get lifelong immunity.
Rabies is spread by the bite or through the saliva of an infected animal. The disease develops so fast in cats that paralysis may be the only noticeable symptom. Prevention is only by a highly effective vaccine which may be given as early as three months for kittens. Once infested rabies is fatal and the extreme danger is transmission to humans.
Feline corona virus infection (Infectious Peritonitis) and Feline immunodeficiency virus infection are the other major infectious diseases in cats. There is no preventive vaccination for the latter and the main route of transmission of the virus is through the saliva injected from infected to uninfected cats through fight induced bite wounds. Neutering cats to curb the fighting instinct and keeping them indoors and restricting access to unhealthy cats may help to reduce the risk of infection.
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