As long as kittens consume their mother's milk, they will be well protected from infections by all the antibodies it contains. This protection only diminishes when they start to eat solid food from the age of six weeks.
Precautions for Kittens
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Kittens must now develop their own defences against viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. Thankfully most pathogens are harmless, though kittens won't be able to able to shake off some virus carriers so easily. Hence, protective vaccinations at around eight weeks in age are recommended.
Cat colds & feline leukopenia
The vaccine against cat colds and feline leukopenia primarily counts in these cases. Even purely domestic cats can be infected by humans, e.g. through shoes worn indoors and outdoors. The dogged parvovirus triggers uncontrollable diarrhoea for puppies. The herpes and caliciviruses are responsible for cat colds, though they can be avoided thanks to vaccination.
Purely domestic cats are relatively safe, but those that mix with a wider crowd should be vaccinated against leucosis. This viral disease can emerge only several years after infection. The consequences are tumours, constantly recurring infections or swollen lymph nodes. Your vet carrying out a blood test should show whether your cat was infected – by another animal.
The rabies vaccine and protection against worms are further preventive measures. The mother should be dewormed during the pregnancy, since her worms are transmitted to her young. In order to be on the safe side, kittens should be dewormed a week before each vaccination.
Sterilisation: yes or no?
Once the first weeks are finally over more or less to everyone's satisfaction, it's time to ask the question of whether to opt for sterilisation now. A male that marks in your home with its urine makes the decision easy for you. Sterilisation is primarily recommended for female cats too if you wish to avoid unwanted offspring. A positive side-effect is that the danger of tumours is reduced. There's no need to fear negative consequences.
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