As spring approaches, it will be time for new life, and sometimes people find kittens. So what should you do if you find a kitten (or a cat) and you want to keep it?
First, you must remember not to expose your other cats to the new kitten or cat until he/she has been examined. You should try to have him/her seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Feline Leukemia virus (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) are the most common infectious diseases in cats. The main risk factors are being a male, adulthood and outdoor access. All cats should be tested to determine their status. Depending on the cat's lifestyle, the timing of the testing may vary.
FeLV infection has decreased over the last 20 years most likely due to testing and vaccinating. The prevalence of FIV has not changed since it was discovered in 1986.
Feline Leukemia virus (FeLV) can be spread from mother to offspring, as well as between cats that live together. The viral particles are shed in saliva, urine, nasal secretions, feces and mother's milk. The virus targets the lymphoid organs if the immune system cannot clear the infection. Signs of the disease include fever, enlarged lymph nodes and decreased white blood cell counts.
Feline Immunodeficiency virus is spread primarily from bite wounds, with high concentrations of the virus in the saliva. If the immune system cannot clear the infection, signs can include fever, general malaise, and diarrhea.
So some say that FeLV is a disease of close intimate contact and FIV is a disease of fighting cats.
All cats should be tested to determine whether they are positive or negative. If they are negative, they can be vaccinated depending on their lifestyle. It is recommended that all kittens are vaccinated for FeLV as their lifestyle could change as they get older. Outside adult cats and cats in multiple cat households should be vaccinated for FeLV. Cats who fight should be vaccinated for FIV. The FeLV vaccine will not affect the test results, while the FIV vaccine will turn the test positive (so the decision to vaccinate should be weighed carefully).
A positive test means infection, but not necessarily disease. All positive tests should be confirmed.
A healthy positive cat can be managed for years and remain healthy. He/ she should be kept indoors, separate from other cats, and monitored closely for signs of illness.
In addition to being checked for these common diseases, the new addition should be checked for intestinal parasites, some of which can be transmitted to people. He/she should be vaccinated for rabies, feline panleukopenia virus, feline herpes virus and calicivirus also.
Proper nutrition should be started also.
Enjoy your new addition. Stay healthy and happy.