Cats are not small dogs.
This might seem like an obvious statement, but many people, including some veterinarians, treat them as such. Their diseases, diet, handling and so forth are unique to cats and that needs to be considered by your veterinarian. The easiest way to find a practice that understands these issues is to find one that is certified as a cat friendly practice. The American Association of Feline Practitioners contains a search tool on their website to find a cat friendly practice. These practices also display a sign of their certifications that looks like the one at Arbor Pointe Veterinary Hospital, as seen below.
Make your kitten’s carrier into a safe haven.
Of course your kitten (and later your cat) will not want to get in the carrier if it always ends in a car ride and sometimes a veterinary visit. Instead of viewing the carrier as a dreaded thing to avoid, make it a safe, comfortable place during transportation.
There are many ways to make your cat feel safe in the carrier. Give your kitten treats inside of the carrier. When he or she is done playing with a favorite toy, place it in the carrier. Make it a sleeping place by placing a bed inside. Always keep the carrier door open so that your kitten can come and go at will. Finally, consider using Feliway spray, a pheromone that is calming to most cats. What kind of carrier should you use? I prefer the rigid plastic type that has quick releases to remove the top. Many cats get their entire exam inside of their “safe place” with the exception of being taken out for a weigh-in!
Vaccinations vary depending on where you live and your kitten’s life style. I recommend that all kittens receive immunization against the respiratory complex: panleukopenia, rhino and calici virus. Rabies, and feline leukemia are two other diseases for which I recommend vaccination.
Many people feel that since there cat will live indoors, chances of exposure are low, and they are right. However, many infections, especially the respiratory diseases, can be caught even by indoor cats. Rabies is a health concern for mammals including humans, and most state laws require a current vaccine against rabies. Feline leukemia is one of the hardest diseases to catch. It requires an exchange of body liquids which might happen from sharing a litter box or getting in a fight and being bitten. I recommend that even indoor cats get a leukemia series as a kitten. That way, should you need to board your cat, or you decide to get another cat with an unknown leukemia status, you can boost your cat without going through the series of vaccines.
Spay and Neuter
You probably are not going to leave your kitten for a spay or neuter on the first visit. Chances are good that the veterinarian you choose will eventually be the one to do so. The most important and overlooked aspect of spay and neuter is to make sure that adequate pain control will be used. Simbadol is the only approved cat opioid, and lasts for 24 hours. Ask your veterinarian if they use it prior to making the spay or neuter appointment. You can bring your cat back for a second and even third injection of Simbadol after the surgery if needed. See the post on “Assessing post operative pain in cats” to determine if your cat is in pain. NSAID’s such as Onsior or Metacam are also appropriate for the relief of pain and inflammation post-operatively. Both of these products can be used alongside Simbadol.
Cat friendly practices: http://www.catvets.com/cat-owners/find-vets-and-practices
Feliway Spray: http://www.feliway.com/us/What-causes-cat-stress-or-anxiety/Visiting-the-veterinarian.