The importance of Desexing

We strongly recommend desexing all animals that are not required for breeding. The main benefits of desexing are preventing unwanted litters, reducing undesirable behaviours such as urine spraying and roaming in males and reducing the risk of health problems later in life. These health problems include mammary tumours, ovarian and uterine tumours and uterine infections. The health benefits of desexing are maximised if undertaken before females first oestrus

We recommend desexing at 5-6 months age.

Kitten Care: Intestinal Worming

Cats are susceptible to roundworm, hookworm and tapeworm infections. They can become infected through contact with other cats, the environment generally or, most commonly in kittens, from their mother at birth. We recommend using a good quality allwormer product such as Drontal.

Kittens should be treated:

  • Every 2 weeks until 3 mtgs age
  • Then monthly until 6 months age
  • Then every 3 months for life

Intestinal worms can also infect humans especially children so we strongly recommend ongoing intestinal worm control.

Kitten Care: Vaccinations

Vaccination is an important way of preventing disease in your kitten. We recommend that all cats are vaccinated against feline rhinotracheitis virus, feline calicivirus and feline panleukopaenia.

Kittens require an initial course of 3 injections:

  • Initial kitten F3 (Due at 8 weeks)
  • Second kitten F3 (Due at 12 weeks)
  • Third kitten F3 (Due at 16 weeks)

After the initial course, we recommend that your cat comes in for an annual booster vaccination to ensure ongoing protection.

Kitten Care: Diet

Kittens can be weaned from 3 to 6 weeks of age by gradually introducing solid food. We recommend that you use a good quality ‘complete and balanced’ diet such as Hills Science Diet. A ‘complete’ food is one that gives your kitten all the nutrition it needs so that you do not need to feed any other type of food. A ‘balanced’ diet means that all of the ingredients are in the proper ratios for your kittens health. The benefits of a good quality diet are faeces that are normal consistency and reduced amount compared to the cheaper brands.

Kittens should never be fed a meat only diet as this can cause serious nutritional disease. We recommend that you feed your kitten twice daily until 6 months age.

Information on Pestivirus

What is Pestivirus?

Pestivirus is an extremely common virus in cattle herds, and it can cause a range of disease syndromes including reproductive failure, birth of abnormal calves, respiratory and diarrhoeal disease. Cows first exposed to the virus and infected during early pregnancy may abort, have deformed calves, or give birth to calves that appear normal but act as infectious carriers – these persistently infected (PI) animals perpetuate the disease within the herd.

What is a PI?

A persistently infected animal, or “PI” is one that was exposed to the virus while in the uterus, at a stage when the developing immune system mistakenly assumes the virus is a normal part of the animal (between about 1 and 4 months of pregnancy), this means the calf doesn’t develop a normal immune response and the virus continues to live on in the PI undetected, reproducing and shedding in huge amounts for the entire life of the animal. These animals later develop the clinical signs of Mucosal disease which causes chronic, antibiotic non-responsive diarrhea and ultimately death.

‘Classic’ PI calves are poor-doers and:

  • Are responsible for most of the production-limiting outcomes of pestivirus
  • A reservoir for year to year re-infection
  • Often carry the infection between properties

Transiently infected animals will also shed virus, but for only a limited period of time, about 2 weeks.

Testing

Serology: Blood testing
Serology tests for antibodies produced by the animal as a result of Pestivirus infection. It can take up to 2 weeks from initial infection for antibodies to be produced, and these will remain for years after the virus has been eliminated.

A seropositive result means the cow has been infected at some time, but does not reveal whether it is currently infected with or shedding virus.

A seronegative result means the cow has never been infected with the virus.

NOTE: A PI animal will also be seronegative – because the immune system thinks the virus is a normal part of the animal’s body, antibodies are never produced.

Virology: Ear-notch testing

Virology detects the presence of the virus itself. The small vessels in the ear notch are analysed for the presence of virus particles. Samples are sent to a pestivirus-specific lab in Western Australia.

The lab will reports results as:

  • Strong positives – extremely likely to be exposed to virus CULL or can retest in 2 weeks to be sure they are not transiently infected.
  • Weak Positives – may be low shedding PIs or transiently infected retest in 2+ weeks to determine persistent from transiently infected.
  • Negatives – not currently infected with the virus, but may have been in the past (in that case will be blood test positive)

Management

Management is centered on location and removal of PI animals, combined with a vaccination programme for the rest of the herd, and there are various approaches which can be taken to achieve this aim. If pestivirus is a problem in your herd, or you would like further information on Pestivirus–please feel free to contact us at the clinic.