Q: We found a cute kitten, Frosty. Since we’ve never had a cat before, we don’t know much about their care. For example, do kittens need vaccinations? Frosty will stay indoors.
A: Yes, all kittens need vaccinations, even if they will live indoors exclusively. So, make an appointment with your veterinarian.
Your veterinarian will vaccinate Frosty to protect against distemper—a disease that causes profound loss of energy and appetite, diarrhea and vomiting—and upper respiratory infections. These diseases are so contagious that a kitten can become infected without having direct contact with another cat.
Even indoor cats are susceptible to rabies, and your veterinarian will test Frosty to ensure that your kitten is free of the feline leukemia and immunodeficiency viruses. Many veterinarians also recommend vaccinating kittens for feline leukemia.
In addition, your vet will test Frosty for intestinal parasites and recommend ways to control them, since they can infect indoor cats.
Finally, you’ll want your vet to sterilize Frosty to prevent unwanted cat breeding behaviors. At the same time, your vet can implant a microchip to provide permanent identification, in case Frosty ever escapes from your home.
Choose a veterinarian you respect and enjoy seeing, because you and Frosty will build a lifetime relationship with this professional, your other family doctor.
Editor’s Note: Like humans, our feline friends require timely vaccinations and booster shots to keep them safe from diseases such as rabies and feline distemper. Here’s more information on critical feline vaccines and their schedules.
Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org