* Our waiting room is closed, please stay in your car. All services will be done curbside.
Westborough, MA 01581
Feline Pediatric Health & Wellness Plan
Congratulations on adopting your new Kitten and welcome to the Healthy Paws Family!
At Healthy Paws, we have developed our Health and Wellness Plan for Kittens with a primary goal in mind- to keep your kitten healthy through this important phase of rapid growth and build a solid foundation for maintaining optimal health throughout your kitten’s life.
What are the basic components of the Feline Pediatric Health Plan?
History & Physical exams- usually 3 pediatric exams
Immunizations- kitten booster series
Internal and external parasite control- intestinal, heartworm, flea, tick & mite control
Laboratory screening tests / preoperative blood screening
Zoonotic disease (conditions that can spread to humans)
Spay / neuter / microchip discussion
Behavior consultation / basic training
Management of congenital disease- problems some kittens are born with
Exercise / play recommendations
Dental care- starting the discussion of home care
We have carefully developed our program to provide the most current & complete medical care for new kittens to put them on the path for a healthy full life with you. We will continue to modify the program as superior screening tests, vaccines, or medications are available. Please look at our Feline Pediatric Health Plan in detail- we are happy to answer any additional questions you may have. We believe you will agree the program provides the best preventative health care for your newest family member.
Core vaccinations- FVRCP, Rabies
Non-Core vaccinations- Feline Leukemia (FeLV)
Triple Snap test- Tests for FeLv, FIV (Feline AIDS) and Heartworm
Fecal screen for parasites
Why Vaccination for your Kitten are Vital
There are many very serious and highly contagious diseases that your kitten can contract if not properly protected. Fortunately, safe and effective vaccines have been developed for most of these diseases. Similar to human babies, kittens require a series of vaccines (boosters) given during the first 4 months of life-when maternal antibody protection is wearing off and the kittens’s own immune system is maturing. By following recommended vaccination protocols, you are giving your cat a solid core immunity that will protect from infectious diseases throughout their lifetime.
Vaccines are typically given in conjunction with the pediatric wellness exams at 8 weeks, 12 weeks, and 16 weeks of age. Depending on the size of your cat and the number of vaccines to be given, your doctor may recommend splitting the vaccines over two sessions.
What are we vaccinating against?
Core vaccines are those that are recommended for all cats and include Rabies, Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia (FVRCP)
Non-Core vaccines also protect against serious diseases but may not be appropriate for all Cats based on individual lifestyle (outdoor or indoor). Non-core vaccines include FeLv (Feline Leukemia).
Lifestyle Vaccines are those that protect again contagious diseases encountered in certain situations. For cats, the only “lifestyle” vaccination is the Feline Leukemia vaccine.
At Healthy Paws, your doctor will discuss whether or not a non-core vaccine is appropriate for your cat and develop a vaccine strategy for each individual patient.
Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis - FVR is very contagious and can cause severe disease, including death from pneumonia in young kittens. Initial signs of FVR include coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, conjuntivitis, and sometimes fever (up to 106) and loss of appetite. These usually resolve within four to seven days, but secondary bacterial infections can cause the persistence of clinical signs for weeks.
Calicivirus - A common viral disease that affects cats, is characterized by upper respiratory symptoms, pneumonia, oral ulceration (sores in the mouth).
Panleukopenia (feline distemper) - A severe, highly contagious viral disease of cats, kittens, raccoons, and mink. The panleukopenia virus tends to invade cells which are rapidly growing such as those of the digestive system, bone marrow (which makes blood cells), lymph tissue, and developing nervous system. Common symptoms are diarrhea, vomiting, low white blood cell count, seizures and/or death.
Rabies - A fatal viral disease that can affect any warm-blooded mammal including humans. There is no cure for rabies. Infected pets must be euthanized and all exposed persons must receive a series of painful rabies vaccinations. Common wildlife vectors include raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, & woodchucks.
Feline Leukemia - A retrovirus that is only spread through direct contact and exchange of blood and saliva with an infected cat. Indoor only cats at no significant risk of exposure, so we do not recommend vaccination. However, if your cat starts to venture outdoors, it is imperative to get them vaccinated against this deadly virus that causes cancer after infection.
Protecting the health of your kitten and your family…
At each pediatric visit, we will check for the following:
Intestinal parasites via fecal (stool) exam
Fleas, ticks, and other skin parasites
Ringworm (fungal infection)
How do we test a stool sample?
Stool samples can be tested in-house or at our reference laboratory. Typically we send fecal samples out to the lab and receive results by the following morning. In special circumstances we may run fecal tests in-house at our facility. To do this we mix a small amount of stool with a sugar solution that causes the parasite eggs to separate from the rest of the fecal material, float up, and stick to a glass slide which we then look at under the microscope. Each type of parasite has a unique egg size and shape. Eggs are microscopic and can be missed if the worms are not shedding eggs the day the sample is collected.
Yikes, I see actual worms in the stool!
Sometimes kittens do pass adult worms- especially after a deworming. Roundworms look like spaghetti, and tapeworms look like small flat tan grains of rice. Call us if you ever see worms on your dog’s hind end or in feces!
In cases of chronic diarrhea & weight loss in kittens that have negative fecal tests, we may recommend additional testing for more rare parasitic diseases.
Flea & Tick Prevention
Topical monthly coverage - Revolution® (containing selamectin) - this active ingredient prevents heartworm disease. As well as redistributes into the skin from the bloodstream and kills adult fleas, American dog ticks, and ear mites, and prevents flea eggs from hatching.
Topical 12 week coverage - Bravecto® (containing fluralaner) - exterminates parasites that reside on the skin or in the fur of the kitty including fleas and ticks.
Collar 8 month coverage - Seresto® (containing imidacloprid and flumethrin)
Healthy Paws currently recommends Revolution by Pfizer for flea and tick and heartworm prevention in outdoor cats. Revolution is approved for kittens 8 weeks and older and is applied directly to the skin in between the shoulder blades. The compound absorbs but is contained in the lipid layer of the skin where it slowly releases over the next month.
Flea and tick preventative is recommended for indoor cats with flea infestation or if you feel they are at risk living with another animal that goes outside.
Heartworm Disease, Prevention & Testing
Yes, Cats do get Heartworm disease. Heartworms affect cats differently than dogs, but the disease they cause is equally serious.
Transmission of heartworm disease occurs through mosquitoes. A cat contracts heartworm disease when a mosquito carrying microscopic-size heartworm larvae bites a cat. The larvae enter through the bite wound where they develop in the tissues. The immature worms then enter a blood vessel and are carried to the arteries in the lungs where they cause an inflammatory reaction. Most worms die at this stage, causing even more inflammation. The worms that progress to the adult stage may live undetected for a couple of years. But, when the adult worms die, the inflammation can be severe enough to cause death. The respiratory signs associated with these reactions are called Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (H.A.R.D.). Chronic signs of feline heartworm disease include difficulty breathing, coughing or gagging, heavy or fast breathing and vomiting. More acute signs can be anorexia or weight loss, lethargy, seizures, fainting and loss of coordination. Many cats with heartworm infection may exhibit no signs of disease.
Prevention is easy, safe and effective. Healthy paws generally prescribes Revolution which is a topical medication containing selamectin. When consistently given monthly throughout the year, Revolution is 100% effective. We start outdoor kittens on heartworm prevention at their first pediatric visit, but testing is usually first done at the 10-12 week visit.
Testing for heartworm disease is recommended at the kitten’s 10-12 week pediatric visit if you are planning on them being outdoor cats. If proper prevention is demonstrated testing would not be necessary to perform again unless they are showing signs of unexplained respiratory issues.
Spay and Neutering
All Cats should be Spayed or Neutered by 6 months of age.
No unwanted pregnancies- there are plenty of healthy kittens looking for home. Sadly, thousands of unwanted cats and kittens are killed each year in the shelters due to overcrowding and financial restraints.
Eliminate the risk of pyometra- a life-threatening uterine infection in intact females
Reduce the risk of developing mammary (breast) cancer- increased risk with each estrus cycle.
Decrease/eliminate spraying and marking behavior
Decrease inter-cat fighting and aggression
Decrease risk if Feline AIDS and Feline Leukemia transmission (highest prevalence among intact male cats that are more likely to fight and be bitten)
Risks - no significant risks have been identified for cats other than the inherent risks of anesthesia and surgery. We take every step to minimize any potential risk and monitor vitals on every patient during the surgical procedure.
Age of Kitten
FVRCP #1 booster
(Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia)
FVRCP #2 booster
Heartworm test for outdoor cats.
FVRCP #3 (final) booster
Spay surgery for female cats; neuter for male cats
Feline Adult Wellness Exam
FeLv #1 *recommended for all outdoor cats
(Feline Leukemia vax)
Repeat fecal test if initial test was positive
Start monthly flea & tick control
Strategic deworming (final)
Treat for the following:
Intestinal parasites (strategic deworming)
Prescribe more intensive treatment for any identified parasitic infestation
Prescribe topical Flea/Tick prevention based on age and if cat goes outdoors
HPVC - Feline Pediatric Wellness Program Schedule
Feline Adult Health & Wellness Plan
At Healthy Paws, your cat’s health is our main focus. We have developed our Health and Wellness Plan for Adult Cats using the most updated clinical information and recommendations of specialists as well as the standards of treatment set forth by the Feline board of practitioners. Our goal is to give you more healthy and quality years with your feline companion… after all, we are routinely seeing feline pets living into their upper teens and a few patients are over 20 years old and still enjoying life!
What are the basic components of the Adult Feline Health Plan?
years 1 -12 yrs - Annual Examination Appointment:
Complete physical examination
Appropriate vaccinations or checking vaccine titer levels
For cats who venture outdoors, additional items include:
Fecal parasite screen- check a stool sample for microscopic eggs of intestinal worms
Tick / Flea / Heartworm prevention
At 4 years - Baseline blood work- CBC, Chemistry screen– similar to your physician running baseline blood work on you when you turn 35. In future years, as your pet’s chances of developing problems increases, we have a baseline to refer back to. If your cat stays healthy with no problems, then the next “screening blood work” would be at 8 years of age.
At 12 years cats become “Senior Feline Citizens” and transition to our senior wellness program.
Dental care is very important for cats. Cats can have cavities and broken teeth just like people.
We recommend brushing your cat’s teeth daily with a pet safe toothpaste like C.E.T brand.
Every year at your cat’s annual exam we will perform a visual exam of the mouth and teeth.
If we feel there are problems that may need a more through dental assessment and treatment plan (Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment COHAT) we will discuss the need for dental cleaning and x-rays under anesthesia.
*Vaccination titers: For clients concerned about over vaccination, there is an option to test the level of protective antibody against Panleukopenia virus in the blood. If the level is high enough to be considered “protective”, then the vaccination booster is postponed until the next year where client again have the option to check titers or give the booster. Ask the doctor for more information if you are interested in titer testing.
Age of Cat
FVRCP - 3 yr vaccine
Rabies - 3 yr vaccine
FVRCP - 3 yr vaccine
Rabies - 3 yr vaccine
Boosters as needed
FeLV *every 2 yrs
FeLV *every 2 yrs
HPVC - Adult Feline Wellness Program Schedule- Vaccination Schedule
Feline Senior Health & Wellness Plan
At Healthy Paws, we have developed our Health and Wellness Plan for Senior Cats with a primary goal in mind- giving your cat the best quality of life for as long as possible. At 12 years, cats become “Senior Feline Citizens” and transition to our senior wellness program.
The basic components of the Senior Feline Health Plan:
Semi-Annual Physical Exams
Senior Laboratory Screening (blood & urine sample)
Appropriate vaccinations or vaccination titer testing
For cats that go outdoors, these additional “lifestyle” items are added:
Fecal parasite screen- check a stool sample for microscopic eggs of intestinal worms- esp in mousers!
Topical Tick/Flea/Heartworm prevention- a few choices…..
Senior Wellness Blood Work
CBC (Blood Count)
Thyroid Level Urinalysis
Core vaccinations: FVRCP & Rabies
Lifestyle Vaccines: Feline Leukemia
Routine Wellness for cats going outdoors
Flea and Tick Preventative
Oral Exam to evaluate:
1. Caries (Cavities)
2. Fractured Teeth
3. Periodontal Disease
*For more information about vaccines speak with a technician or see our Adult Wellness Program
Senior Wellness Blood work and Urinalysis
Once your pet is a senior pet we recommend annual blood work and a urinalysis to monitor for changes that might give us early warning of treatable disease—after all, 1 cat year is equal to 7 human years and a lot can happen in 7 years! Early diagnosis and treatment will extend and improve your pet’s quality of life and allow you to enjoy your relationship with your pet well into their senior years. Why would you wait? Ask us for more information- we are happy to discuss all the benefits of annual lab screening for senior pets or see pamphlet for more detailed information
Complete Blood Count (CBC) - Blood test to evaluate the number and type of red, white, and clotting cells. Abnormal values can be associated with bacterial or viral infection, anemias, clotting diseases, and certain types of cancers.
Chemistry Profile (Chemistry) - Blood tests to evaluate the function of many internal organs. Abnormalities can indicate systemic disorders including diabetes, kidney or liver disease, and electrolyte abnormalities.
Thyroid Level (T4) - Blood test to measure the amount of circulating thyroid hormone. Deficiency is common in cats resulting in lethargy, weight gain, and dermatological problems. Increased levels are common in senior cats resulting in weight loss, increased appetite and thirst, and heart problems.
Urinalysis (U/A) - Urine samples provide valuable information about kidney function as well as screening for infections, tumors, or bladder stones.
Common Problems that Senior Felines Face
There are many health problems associated with old age, so it’s important to keep an eye on your cat’s eating and drinking habits, attitude, and activity level. Even subtle changes can be associated with an underlying health issue, so it’s important to report any abnormal activity to your veterinarian. Here are some common things to watch out for:
Indications of Disease in Senior Pets:
Change in Appetite - A change in your cat’s appetite (an increase or decrease) can be the result of several different problems. If your cat is suffering from dental problems, they will most likely eat less and start to lose weight, simply because it hurts to eat. Metabolic diseases, such as diabetes, kidney, liver and thyroid diseases can also affect your pet’s appetite. Simple blood tests can screen for these diseases if they are suspected to be the cause of your cat’s change in appetite.
Weight Loss - Any gradual or sudden loss of weight can be caused by any number of ailments. Some of the most common causes of sudden weight loss in older cats includes hyperthyroidism, neoplasia (cancer), kidney, liver, and heart disease. A common cancer seen in cats is GI lymphoma.
Frequent Drinking and Urination - Increased drinking and urination are also symptoms of common metabolic diseases, such as diabetes and Cushing’s disease. Increased drinking can also occur as the result of a bladder infection, fever, or chronic renal (kidney) disease. Blood and/or urine tests can screen for these diseases.
Lumps and Bumps - It is common to find new lumps and bumps on your senior feline. Always let your doctor know if you’ve found any new lumps or bumps on your pet so that the doctor can determine whether she wants to do further testing to determine exactly what the lump is.
Arthritis - If you notice that your cat is slowing down or having trouble getting up or laying down, he may be suffering from arthritis. Arthritis is very common in senior pets. When arthritis is suspected, x-rays are usually recommended in order to assess the severity and to rule out other problems, such as tumors. Tick diseases can make your pet’s arthritis worse. Obesity also makes arthritis worse, so it’s important to monitor your senior’s diet and keep them at a healthy weight. There are different options for treating arthritis, which depend on your cat’s age and the severity of the disease.
Heart Disease - Heart disease is another common problem that older pets face. If you notice that your pet gets winded easily, heart disease may be the cause. As part of your cat’s semi-annual exam, the vet will listen to your cat’s heart and check for heart murmurs. Medication can be prescribed to help your cat deal with its heart condition.
Chronic and progressive vomiting, diarrhea and /or weight loss - These are fairly common symptoms can be seen with a variety of diseases including inflammatory bowel disease, GI lymphoma, hyperthyroidism, liver disease, & kidney disease.
HPVC - Senior Feline Wellness Program