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Old 10-14-2008, 10:16 PM
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Thumbs up Cats 101 : Getting Your First Cat - Part 2 The First Veterinary Visit

Lesson 2: The First Veterinary Visit

By Franny Syufy, About.com

Your new cat's first veterinarian visit is of supreme importance. You'll want to assure yourself of his good health, and get his vaccinations and testing for FIV and FeLV (if not already done by the adopting agency). Also, unless this has already been performed, you need to set up an appointment for a spay or neuter of your new cat. Prepare in advance for the possible question, "Do you want a declaw with that neuter?"

The Vaccination Conundrum
If you adopted your cat from a shelter or rescue organization, he may already have received vaccinations. If your cat was a "door step" adoptee, he'll need vaccinations. However, if you bought a cat from a breeder they may have had you sign an agreement to avoid certain vaccines. Bottom line is, discuss it with your veterinarian. There are certain vaccinations that should notbe skipped.

Spay or Neuter

Compelling Reasons for Early Spay and Neuter
If you adopted a kitten 12 weeks or older, he is a candidate for an early spay or neuter. There are several reasons why this will benefit your kitten healthwise and behaviorally. Ask your veterinarian if he or she practices early spay and neuter; if not, ask for a referral to someone who does.

The Importance of Spay and Neuter
If you are not convinced of the urgency of spay and neuter, read some of the articles referenced here. The procedures not only forestall potential health and behavioral problems in cats, but help relieve the already critical cat population crisis. Did you know that one unspayed female cat and her offspring could result in 80 million births over 10 years?

A Note About Declawing

Do Your Homework First
Some veterinarians will offer declawing as a routine accompanyment to spay or neuter. Their reasoning is that "since you'll probably eventually want to declaw, there is less stress on the cat by performing both surgeries under one anesthesia." Declawing is irrevocable. Don't subscribe to it without doing your homework. We'll discuss this later in detail, but I wanted to give you a "heads-up" now.

Testing for FIV and FeLV

Living with an FIV Positive Cat
I can attest from personal experience that living with an FIV+ cat is heartbreaking. Although FIV is not an automatic death sentence, if your new cat tests positive, you'll need to make some hard decisions. If you have no other cats in the household (and I assume you don't because this class is for first-time cat owners), you could still share many rewarding years with your cat. Bless you, if you make that decision!

More About FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus)

FIV is an immune deficiency disease, and is not spread by casual contact, although it can be transmitted to kittens in the womb by a positive mother. Normally, it is spread through "saliva to blood," i.e., deep biting wounds. These resources will give you loads of information about FIV, the testing procedures, and management of the disease.

Feline Leukemia Virus
FeLV is not as "benign" a disease as FIV. It passes from one cat to another through mutual grooming, sharing food, and other casual contact. Unless you are in a position to provide permanent separate quarters for an FeLV+ cat, he or she should be your only cat. (Or you could adopt other FeLV+ cats, if you can afford their vet care.)
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