Brightwood Animal Hospital

9640 Old Johnnycake Ridge Rd
Mentor, OH 44060


Kitten Wellness Guide

The Life of Your Cat:

The staff at Brightwood Animal Hospital wants your cat to live a long and healthy life. All you need to do is follow a few easy steps each year of your cat's life and you will have a happy and healthy pet for many years to come!


Yearly Check-up:

Bring your cat in once a year for a Comprehensive Physical Examination. A vaccination schedule will be selected for your pet, which includes Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Panleukopenia, and Calicivirus and Rabies. We will also include a Feline Leukemia vaccination and a fecal examination if needed for your cat.



Flea and tick prevention is recommended if your cat is at risk.


Special Needs:

Keeping your cat healthy includes providing proper nutrition, maintaining regular grooming (hairball control!), and dental care. Please ask any questions you have regarding your pet's needs to ensure a lifetime of wellness.

  • Show your kitten you love it.
  • Keep it healthy!


Kitten Vaccination Schedule

Vaccinations (including a full physical examination each visit):

FVRCP protects against:

  • Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis - a highly contagious respiratory disease.
  • Calicivirus - another serious respiratory infection.
  • Panleukopenia - a viral disease responsible for high death losses.

Your kitten will need the first vaccine at approximately 2 months of age and receive additional booster shots approximately every 3 weeks. A vaccine schedule thereafter will then be tailored for your pet as an adult.

1st _____ (2 months)      2nd _____ (3 months)     3rd _____ (4 months)

Feline Leukemia: This vaccine protects against a serious and common viral disease in cats. There are several forms of the disease, ranging from mild to severe, and in some cases life-threatening. The vaccine is highly recommended for cats that go outside or have contact with outdoor cats. Your kitten will need to be tested for the virus and upon confirmation of a negative test result, a series of two vaccines will be needed if appropriate for your kitten. The feline leukemia vaccine is boostered annually thereafter.

Test result ______     1st_______ (3 months)    2nd_______(4 months)

Rabies: This is a fatal viral disease of the central nervous system. Since rabies poses a serious public health threat-(transmissible to humans)-it is essential that your cat be vaccinated.  Your kitten will need one vaccine at 4 months of age and will be current for one year. The rabies vaccine is boostered every 3 years thereafter (in Ohio).

1st_______ (4 months)


Feline Leukemia Virus

What is it?

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) is an important infectious disease of cats. This virus causes a leukemia (cancer of white blood cells) plus many other fatal diseases.

How is it transmitted?

The main means of transmitting the virus is through catfights. Cats that live in close, direct contact (sharing food/water bowls, grooming each other) with an infected cat are also at risk, though less frequently by this means, for contracting FeLV. Additionally, kittens may contract the virus from an infected mother through the placenta.

How is it diagnosed?

Diagnosis is made through a simple blood test. Cats should be tested for FeLV under the following circumstances:

  • When they are about to be adopted, regardless of age
  • They should be tested before being introduced into a multiple-cat household to prevent exposing resident cats.
  • They should be tested before entering any household, regardless if other cats are present or not, as infection will have future health ramifications and additional cats may join the household at a later date.
  • Whenever they are sick, regardless of negative results of previous FeLV tests and FeLV vaccination status
  • When there is a history of unsupervised outdoor activity
  • When they have been potentially exposed, such as through a bite wound inflicted by a cat of unknown infection status regardless of vaccine history
  • FeLV vaccination status. Such cats should be tested a minimum of 28 days after exposure
  • When cats are about to be vaccinated against FeLV:
    • FeLV vaccination does not affect capacity to infect other cats or the development of disease in a cat with pre-existing infection. Vaccination of an infected cat may be associated with adverse events.
    • Cats infected prior to FeLV vaccination may appear to be a vaccine failure

Is there any treatment?

It is possible to treat the various disease states that may accompany FeLV infection, however, there is no cure to rid the cat of FeLV. In general, 80% of all persistently FeLV positive cats succumb within three years. Some cats, though, may live for many years unaffected by the virus. . It is recommended to restrict a leukemia positive cat indoors so that transmission to other cats outside the home is avoided

How is it prevented?

A vaccine is available to protect cats from FeLV. The vaccine is strongly recommended for cats that are exposed to open populations of cats (i.e. outdoor cats). If your cat stays indoors at all times and is not in contact with another cat that goes outdoors, the vaccine is generally not recommended.


Injection Site Sarcomas

In the early 1990’s, veterinary researchers identified a disturbing phenomenon. A relationship was discovered between FeLV vaccine and the development of a very aggressive tumor type called a sarcoma at the injection site. The true incidence of cats developing injection site sarcomas associated with FeLV vaccination is approximately 1 in 10,000. If your cat is at risk for contracting FeLV, the benefits of vaccination will far outweigh the risk of developing a sarcoma (i.e. it is more likely for an at-risk cat to contract FeLV than to develop a sarcoma). Thus, at this time, we recommend that FeLV vaccination be reserved for cats that are at risk for exposure to the virus


Feline Immunodeficiency Virus

What is it?

The Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is an important infectious disease of cats. It is likened to the human AIDS virus (HIV) due to similarities between the two types of viruses. However, the viruses are species specific, meaning humans cannot contract FIV and cats cannot contract HIV.

How is it transmitted?

FIV is transmitted primarily through bite wounds from other cats that usually occur during fights. Other interactions of cats, such as sharing food and water bowls or grooming each other, have not shown to be significant in transmission. If a mother cat is infected with FIV at the time she is pregnant or nursing, she can pass the virus to her kittens.

How is it diagnosed?

Diagnosis is made through a simple blood test. Cats should be tested for FIV under the following circumstances:

  • When they are about to be adopted, regardless of age
  • Whenever they are sick, regardless of negative results of previous FIV tests.
  • When there is a history of unsupervised outdoor activity

When they have been potentially exposed, such as through a bite wound inflicted by a cat of unknown infection status. Such cats should be tested a minimum of 60 days after exposure

Is there any treatment?

There is no treatment available to cure the cat of FIV infection. However, a cat that tests positive does not necessarily need to be euthanized if it is not ill. As long as it does not fight with other cats in the household, transmission is unlikely to occur. It is recommended to restrict an FIV positive cat indoors so that transmission to other cats outside the home is avoided. The long-term prognosis is guarded, however, many infected cats can experience years of good health.

How is it prevented?

There is currently a vaccine available to protect cats against FIV. However, adequate protection against disease contraction has not been demonstrated. Additionally, a vaccinated cat cannot be distinguished from a truly infected cat making interpretation of future testing confusing. Until researchers are able to develop this vaccine more fully, we are not recommending the FIV vaccine. It may be considered, however, if your pet is at high risk for infection.


Intestinal Worms

Intestinal parasites are common in kittens. Kittens can become infected with parasites from the mother or through the stool of an infected cat. A microscopic examination of your pet’s stool sample (fecal) will help to determine if any intestinal parasites are present. Your kitten may receive deworming medication, depending on the results of a fecal, whether there is a history of deworming, or if the kitten’s previous environment lends suspicion to infection with worms. Ideally, we like to observe two consecutive negative fecal examinations before declaring that a pet is free of parasites. Please plan to bring your pet’s stool sample to each kitten appointment so that we can keep your kitten healthy.


Spaying Females and Neutering Males


If your pet is not going to be used for breeding purposes, we recommend sterilization surgery for many reasons, both behavioral and medical.

A spayed or neutered pet:

  • is less likely to mark territory indoors and outdoors with urine.
  • will have a better disposition and be less likely to fight with other cats.
  • is less likely to run away or roam in search of a mate (resulting in loss of pet, hit by car, etc.).
  • prevents unwanted pregnancies.
  • is healthier, reducing the risk of uterine infections, tumors of the reproductive system, and conditions related to hormonal imbalances.

There are no negative side effects associated with spaying and neutering. Your pet will develop normally and experience a long, healthy life. Surgery itself will not cause your pet to gain weight, but your pet's metabolic needs will be decreased by 30% due to the removal of hormones. So, feed your pet accordingly.


Traditional spaying and neutering is done at 6 months of age, but may be performed earlier (i.e. 4 months of age). The sooner you have your pet's surgery, the more benefits they will receive.


Scratching !!!

One of the most aggravating cat problems perceived by us is scratching. It is important to understand that this is normal cat behavior. Contrary to popular belief, cats are not sharpening their claws when they engage in this behavior. Rather, this is your cat's way of marking territory. Scratching not only leaves a visible sign, but also a scent that is released from tiny glands between the toes. It is difficult to get a cat to stop scratching completely, but you can teach your new kitten to scratch appropriate areas or objects.

A scratching post is vital to getting your pet's behavior under control. You may need more than one, and they should be placed in your cat's favorite scratching places (i.e. beside couch, next to drapes, etc.). Next, you will need to make the post(s) attractive to your pet. Try rubbing them with a blanket your cat sleeps on. You can also rub catnip or use a catnip spray on the post(s) to entice your cat. When your cat scratches appropriately on a post, be sure to reward him with attention or a treat.

If you catch your cat scratching on something other than a post, do not yell or hit him. Violent reactions usually scare most cats and may make him aggressive. Instead, distract your cat, such as by clapping your hands. Then put him near a scratching post.

If you are unsuccessful in training your new kitten to a scratching post, the front claws may be surgically removed. It is best to have this surgery performed at the same time as spay or neuter. Declawing may be performed at any age, but it is least stressful on a young kitten and the recovery period tends to be shorter.

The Litter Box

Training your new kitten to a litter box is one of the easiest parts of owning a cat. Cats naturally prefer to eliminate in soft, sandy material, so most cats use a litter box by choice. Be sure to keep the box in a quiet area that your cat can assess at all times, and remember to keep it clean. For very young kittens you may need to confine them in a smaller room, rather than the whole house, to get them to use the box each time. For kittens under 4 months of age, it is best to use non-clumping litter. Young kittens (less than 4 months) have been known to ingest clumping litter, which can result in intestinal impactions and serious illness.


Fleas !

Kittens may acquire fleas from their mother, other animals, or the environment. A kitten infested with fleas will scratch and bite himself frequently. He may develop hair loss or scabs. As few as seven fleas on a young kitten can cause anemia and a very sick kitten! Additionally, the ingestion of a flea while the pet bites the skin can result in a tapeworm infection. These parasites may be observed in your pet's hair coat.  Flea "dirt" or feces may be noticed on the skin. While treating fleas is very easy, it is best for your pet to prevent fleas before they become a problem.

What Products are Available at Brightwood?

  • Vectra – A once a month topical product that kills fleas within 6 hours. This product is safe for kittens as young as 8 weeks of age.
  • Revolution - A once a month topical product that kills fleas within 24 hours. This product is also effective against several other types of parasites. Revolution is safe for kittens as young as 6 weeks of age and is ideal for pets with outdoor access.



What is AVID ?

  • AVID stands for American Veterinary Identification Devices.
  • AVID is a tiny microchip (computer chip) that is injected under the skin of your pet.
  • Each chip is marked with a personal identification code that can be read with a hand-held scanner
  • Should your pet ever become lost, animal shelters and veterinary hospitals all over the country are equipped with scanners to detect microchips.
  • Once injected, the chip remains there for the life of your pet and poses no health risks.
  • The chip can be administered at any time, but the ideal time is during your pet's surgery (spay or neuter) while under anesthesia.
  • For a small, one-time fee, you register your pet and identification number with a national database.


Dental Care

A kitten is born without teeth. Primary (“baby” or deciduous) feline dentition consists of 26 teeth. All primary teeth should be lost or very loose by 6 months of age and the secondary or adult teeth should then be present. The adult cat has 30 permanent teeth. The most common cause of adult tooth loss is periodontal disease, which is an inflammation and infection of the tissues surrounding the tooth. Advanced periodontal disease not only affects the oral cavity, but it can also lead to infection of the heart, kidneys, and liver.

Good dental care is essential to extend your pet’s life span and assure a good quality life. Just like us, our pets need regular dental care at home. It is best to begin home care when you kitten is between 8 and 12 weeks old, however, it is never too late to start. Here are a few tips:

  • Regular brushing of the teeth. Gradually introduce the toothbrush or finger toothbrush to your kitten a few minutes each day to the outer surface of the teeth. Gently roll the lips back to expose the teeth rather than forcing the jaw open. Use toothpaste made especially for pets. Never use human toothpaste as this can be toxic to your pet. As your kitten becomes an adult you can then brush the teeth weekly or whatever your schedule will allow.
  • There are also special oral sprays to decrease the bacterial count in the mouth as well as products that can be placed in the drinking water to help control dental disease.


  • Annual examination by a veterinarian of your pet’s oral cavity will allow us to make additional recommendations as your pet ages.

Questions? Problems? Concerns?

Please give us a call if you need help with your new kitten. Our staff is well trained and qualified to answer your questions and address your concerns. Let us help you raise a happy and healthy kitten!

by William M. Fraser, D.V.M.

Brightwood Animal Hospital serves Mentor, Concord, Painesville and the surrounding communities.

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