6 months to 8 years of age
Preventive health care for your cat does not end with the kitten vaccination series and the other aspects of kitten care, but is a lifelong program intended to help your cat maintain wellness. During the adult years, a comprehensive preventive medical care program for your cat should consist of the following:
YEARLY CHECK-UPS: A yearly physical examination by your veterinarian is the basis for detecting diseases early and preventing medical conditions from developing or worsening. During this check-up, your veterinarian will perform a complete examination of your cat including the ears, eyes, nose, skin, temperature, heart and lung sounds, lymph nodes, teeth, and other body systems. A yearly check-up allows for early disease detection, which is the key to successful preventive medical care.
VACCINATIONS: All cats should receive vaccinations to help fight off or prevent certain infectious diseases. During your cat’s yearly check-up your veterinarian will advise you of any vaccinations that may be due. Based on the most current scientific information available, we recommend the following vaccines and vaccination schedules:
FVRCP (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis/Calicivirus/Panleukopenia): This vaccine is recommended for all cats. After a kitten vaccination series, this “3-in-1” vaccine should be administered at one year of age and then every three years.
Rabies: This vaccine is recommended for all cats. Although rabies vaccination is not required by law in most areas, and the vaccine may induce a cancerous tumor in a very small number (about 0.01 to 0.10%) of cats, rabies is a universally fatal disease and is transmittable to people. We recommend, therefore, that all cats be vaccinated against rabies as early as 12 weeks, one year later, and then every three years thereafter.
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV): This vaccine is recommended for cats that roam outdoors or associate with other cats that roam outdoors. A cat infected with FeLV may not show symptoms for a long time, therefore a blood test to screen for an FeLV infection is recommended before the vaccine is administered. Although this vaccine may induce a cancerous tumor in a very small number (0.01 to 0.10%) of cats, the chances of contracting an FeLV infection for an unvaccinated at-risk cat are higher than that of developing a tumor from the vaccine. We recommend that cats at risk for FeLV infection be vaccinated against FeLV as early as 9 weeks of age and boosters given 3 to 4 weeks later, one year later, and every three years thereafter.
Feline Infectious Peritonitis, Bordetella, Microsporum canis (ringworm), Giardia, FIV, and Chlamydia: For various reasons, we do not recommend these vaccines for general but only for certain special situations.
PROPER DIET: The best diet for your cat is a good, high-quality commercial kitten food until one year of age, then an adult food after that. Once or twice a day feedings are adequate, but many cats prefer to nibble at their food throughout the day rather than consume an entire meal in one sitting. The amount to feed depends on the individual cat and the calorie content of the brand of food (check the food’s label for a feeding guide). To help prevent nutritional imbalances, table scraps and homemade diets are not recommended. Vitamin and mineral supplements are not needed if your cat is receiving a good balanced commercial diet. No single food is the absolute best food, and several foods are quite good. We only recommend feeding diets whose label contains the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) statement of nutritional adequacy.
FELINE LEUKEMIA VIRUS (FeLV) AND FELINE IMMUNODEFICIENCY VIRUS (FIV) TESTING: FeLV and FIV cause incurable and often fatal illness in cats. A cat may be born with one of these viruses if its mother was infected or may acquire an infection from another cat. Cats infected with FeLV or FIV may appear healthy and not show symptoms of illness for months or years. If your cat has previously been tested for FeLV and FIV and has not been outdoors or around other cats since then, routine testing for these viruses may not be necessary. Cats that go outdoors or live in households with other cats that go outdoors should be tested for FeLV and FIV at least yearly. This recommendation includes cats that have been vaccinated for FeLV.
PROFESSIONAL DENTAL CARE: Cats have dental care needs very similar to those of people. In fact, tooth and gum disease is the most common health problem of cats. Most cats will need a professional dental cleaning every one to three years, depending on the individual. Your veterinarian will assess the need for a dental cleaning during your cat’s yearly check-up. A proper and thorough dental cleaning is performed while your cat is asleep under general anesthesia. A careful oral examination is performed, then tartar and plaque are removed from all surfaces of the teeth (including below the gum line) with an ultrasonic scaling instrument, the teeth are polished, and lastly stannous fluoride is applied before he or she wakes up. Unqualified persons who operate outside of a veterinary hospital should not perform dental “cleanings” as this is not only illegal, but a competent dental examination is missed, and cleaning below the gum line as well as polishing the teeth cannot be done.
HOME DENTAL CARE: To help maintain your cat’s dental health between professional dental cleanings, home dental care in the form of daily dental brushing is recommended. Special toothbrushes designed for a cat’s mouth and special animal toothpaste (human toothpaste can make your cat sick if swallowed) are available. Many cats will learn to accept or even enjoy having their teeth brushed if they are accustomed to it early in life. Daily dental brushing can help to extend the time interval between each professional dental cleaning. The beneficial effects of dental brushing can also be enhanced by the use of a “dental” diet such as Prescription Diet Feline t/d.
FLEA AND TICK CONTROL: Fleas and ticks are common external parasites of cats. Allergy to flea bites is the most common allergy of cats. Several effective flea and tick control products are available. Your veterinarian can help you to choose the product best suited for your cat’s situation.