Amesbury Animal Hospital

277 Elm Street
Amesbury, MA 01913

(978)388-3636

www.amesburyah.com

Feline Wellness:

We recommend yearly wellness exams for all our feline patients. For our senior kitties, we sometimes recommend bi-annual exams to monitor any ongoing health issues. Cats are very good at hiding the fact that they are sick, so regular routine examinations allow your veterinarian to assess your cat as they age and potentially catch disease processes before they become more serious. As part of your cat's wellness exam, we also recommend testing a fecal sample for any intestinal parasites. Some parasites can be spread to other animals and humans in the household, leading to potentially devastating diseases.

When your cat comes in for their wellness exam, there are several vaccinations we may recommend depending on if your cat's lifestyle (indoor versus outdoor, exposure to other cats, etc) or age. We will tailor a vaccination protocol specifically for your cat. We also recommend testing all cats for Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). Both diseases can have serious consequences for your cat's health and can be spread to other cats in your household. 

Rabies Vaccine: This vaccine is required by law for all cats. Vaccination helps prevent cats from spreading this disease to humans. It is always fatal and there is no cure. Keeping your cat current with their rabies vaccine status minimizes risk to both you and your cat. We start vaccinating cats at 16 weeks of age and then every 1 to 3 years after that.

Feline Distemper Vaccine (FVRCP or FDRC): This vaccination helps protect cats from three diseases - Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia (commonly known as feline distemper).  Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis is a upper respiratory infection that is airborne and highly contagious among cats. It causes sneezing and coughing with discharge from the eyes and nose. Infected cats may have loss of appetite and a fever. Young kittens and senior cats are more susceptible to this infection and many require hospitalization to recover. Feline Calicivirus is another upper respiratory infection with symptoms similar to feline viral rhinotracheitis. These infections account for 95% of upper respiratory infections in cats. The disease is spread through direct contact with an infected cat or objects, for example a food dish or toy. Feline Panleukopenia is highly contagious and deadly among cats. It is similar to the parvovirus seen in dogs. Symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea, weakness, dehydration, tremors, and loss of coordination. A low white blood cell count is also common. Cats with feline distemper need to be hospitalized and have intensive care. Mortality rate is high. We recommend vaccinating kittens starting at 8 weeks of age, then every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age and then every 1-3 years.

Feline Leukemia Vaccine (FeLV): Feline leukemia is highly contagious and is a major cause of death in cats. It is spread through prolonged contact with bodily fluids such as saliva, urine, tears, and milk. Most cats contract the virus through fighting or as a nursing kitten. Exposed cats may carry the disease for years (not showing symptoms) while spreading the disease to other cats. The virus suppresses the immune system and may cause severe anemia and cancer. Symptoms include but are not limited to: fever, anorexia, weight loss, and anemia. All cats should be tested and all cats that live outdoors, or could potentially be exposed to a cat that goes outside, vaccinated. There is no cure for Feline Leukemia, the symptoms can be treated and supportive care given, but the cat will continue to carry the virus. If your cat tests positive for Feline Leukemia but seems otherwise healthy, it can continue to live a long life. A positive cat should live as an indoor only cat so as not to spread the disease to other cats. We recommend starting to vaccinate at 12 weeks of age, boostering 3-4 weeks later and then annually.