or Connect
TheCatSite.com › Forums › Our Feline Companions › Cat Health › Preventing Disease in Kittens
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Preventing Disease in Kittens

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
I have a question for all the people who rescue/foster pregnant cats, wether through a rescue or on your own.

When our stray mom cat's babies were old enough, we took her to a low cost clinic/shelter to be spayed. I think the babies were about 8 1/2 weeks old.
Shortly after that, two of her kittens became very ill and died. I don't know what killed them for sure, but the vet and I finally decided it was distemper.
She had two babies that had already been adopted out, and her third baby was just lucky and never got sick.
I realized when I took her third baby to get neutered (at the same place) that she most likely picked up some bug or parasite from the shelter and passed it on the babies. At the time, none of them had any vaccinations.
I was at the vets yesterday and they agreed that's most likely what happened. She even mentioned that they try not to bring in rescue pupies to the hospital, regardless of vaccination status because they're just too susceptable to illness.

So I guess I'm wondering, would it have been better to wait on her spay until her babies were older and either adopted out and/or vaccinated?
We would have had no problem keeping her in "the cat room" till the babies were older.

Thanks for everyone's help,

post #2 of 3
For me, it's vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate. Everyone older than 4 weeks of age is vaccinated on intake. Even pregnant cats are vaccinated with a killed vaccine. Kittens 5 weeks and up are vaccinated every 2 weeks with a modified live FVRCP until 12 weeks of age, then they get a final shot at 16 weeks. The reason it's important to vaccinate so frequently is that from 6-12 weeks, there is a period where the kitten is losing the immunity he got from his mother but still hasn't developed his own yet. His whole immune system is changing but there is a little window somewhere in there where he has almost no immune system at all. That's why 8-10 week olds are so vulnerable. So the way to minimize the effect of this is to just keep stimulating the immune system with vaccines. It's not perfect and it does have its own set of risks, but having dealt with distemper myself in kittens I thought were properly vaccinated, I've learned that you almost can't be too careful when they're that small. Distemper is so contagious and so deadly that it's really scary.

Hopefully this will cause the vet to re-evaluate their cleaning protocol. Distemper is a hardy virus that is easily transmitted on hands and clothes and surfaces but it is susceptible to bleach, Kennelsol, and a few other disinfectants. If there was a hole in their cleaning protocol, hopefully they can find it and fix it. Obviously it won't be possible to prevent 100% of disease transmission but there are steps that can be taken to minimize risks.

In terms of the kittens, really the thing to do would have been to have them vaccinated with a modified live vaccine (not killed - a single killed vaccine is not enough to give kittens immunity; they need the second shot before that happens which leaves them vulnerable for an extra 2+ weeks) at 5-6 weeks of age. Since the virus is so insidious and you can bring it home just by touching an object that had been touched by someone who had contact with an infected cat, vaccination is really your only defense. Everything else just reduces the risk of coming in contact with the virus.
post #3 of 3
I foster cats and kittens. My first foster was Festus' Mom, who I found. She and the babies seemed healthy, until at 8-10 weeks I began fostering Garfield and his brother Odie. Odie died within days of coming into my home and mixing with Festus' litter. It was distemper. Luckily, Fest and her litter were up on their vaccinations, and got a very mild case. Garfield and his Mom survived with intense vet care. Later, Festus' sister Mattie died of FIP.

My foster kittens would go to another multicat home on days they went to the vet. I believe they were exposed to germs there, including the one that causes FIP.

Since then, I try to take the kittens and cats to the vet directly myself. However, when they go to adoption shows, they are still exposed to multiple cats. And once the Moms are spayed, and turned loose in my house, they are exposed to my cats, who have a history of distemper, and the FIP bug (I think it is called coronavirus). I don't let foster kittens loose in my house, they stay closed in a separate bedroom due to my paranoia.

I believe kittens should be vaccinated. The vet should endeavor to keep their facilities clean, and prevent passing illnesses from one animal to another. My cats stay in their carriers, or sit on the vet table. They are not free to roam the room. (As much as possible with a cat!)

When we spay the Moms, we often do not put them back with their babies. It means the Moms may be separated from the kittens at 8 weeks, or the Moms wait until 10 weeks to be spayed.

I don't think rescue animals are necessarily more susceptible to illness. However, many people who foster take such large numbers of animals that they can't keep them locked away for 2-3 months like I do. And maybe they didn't have a history of illnesses. But once you are hit with kittens dying, it makes you so careful. My rescue doesn't even let people pet and hold the kittens unless they are planning to adopt. They are paranoid of the kittens picking up an illness. Me too!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Cat Health
TheCatSite.com › Forums › Our Feline Companions › Cat Health › Preventing Disease in Kittens