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Whether your new
kitten is from a breeder, shelter, neighbor, or simply a stray you've brought into your home, one of the first things you need to do is arrange a
veterinary checkup. This way, if there is a preexisting condition in the kitten, you can alert the breeder or shelter, especially if it's a contagious condition. Many breeder contracts insist on such an exam within two days of acquiring the kitten, so you both have assurance that the kitten is healthy at the time of transfer. And you'll want to know your kitty is starting off with a clean bill of health.
If you have other pets at home, keep your new kitten separated until your veterinarian gives the go-ahead to introduce him. This helps reduce the risk of spreading contagious diseases to your other pets.
Before heading to the veterinarian, gather together any previous health records, including details of vaccinations and
deworming. Write down what you're feeding him in case the veterinarian asks. Also record any questions, possible signs of illness, or problems you're having with your new pet. Otherwise, these seem to fly out of mind's reach once in the exam room. If you have pet health insurance, bring the information for it. Bring a fresh stool sample (not the whole thing; about a tablespoon is ample).
Have the kitten ride to the veterinary clinic in a carrier. It's a good idea not to feed him for at least an hour before leaving, to lessen the chance of carsickness. Bring extra towels and maybe some rinse-free kitten-safe shampoo in case of an accident. Once at the clinic, leave the kitten in his crate until you're in the exam room.
It's common for a
veterinary technician to obtain the health history from you, and to perform the preliminary check-in including weight, temperature, pulse and respiration rate. If you brought a stool sample, the specimen will be checked for evidence of
intestinal parasites. Any abnormalities found during this preliminary check-in will be reported to the veterinarian, who will then perform a full physical examination.
The technician may also draw blood at this time, or it may be done later in the exam. The blood will be tested for
feline leukemia virus (
FeLV) and for feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), both of which can be passed from mother to kitten. Neither disease is curable, and both are contagious to other
cats. Early detection is the best way to inform you about these illnesses, start a dialogue about the best way to help your kitten, and help you protect your other
cats from becoming infected.
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