Health and Heredity of the Bengal breed

Your Kitten’s First Visit to the Vet

Once you have had your kitten at home for a couple of days, you should take it to the vet to be examined.  Taking your cat or kitten to the vet doesn't have to be traumatic provided that it is handled and managed well right from the very first encounter. 

Some kittens may have already been to the vet for their first vaccination before you get them but even if the kitten has been to the vet with the breeder it is still important to start your kitten relationship with your vet as positively as possible.

Microchipping

Why micro-chip? The prospect of your kitten getting lost – and maybe losing visible identification – is unbearable. Cat theft is on the increase today as well, so security is becoming an issue for all cat owners. Should your cat be involved in an accident micro-chipping can mean your cat is identified and you are.

Why micro-chip?

The prospect of your kitten getting lost – and maybe losing visible identification – is unbearable. Cat theft is on the increase today as well, so security is becoming an issue for all cat owners. Should your cat be involved in an accident micro-chipping can mean your cat is identified and you are reunited quicker.

How microchipping works

Microchipping, which is the painless insertion of a microchip under the skin on his neck, means that any vet or cat rescue organisation can ‘read’ the chip with a handheld scanner, and your cat can be reunited with you quickly.

Your vet can perform the procedure at any of your routine appointments,and it literally takes just seconds to make your cat identifiable for life. The chip number will be entered into a computer system, and you will be sent a certificate confirming your ownership and address, plus how to amend your details should you move home.

Grooming your cat

Looking after the coat Grooming your cat will soon become a special moment of love and sharing between you and your cat. A beautiful coat is much appreciated by the cat and reflects not only in good health but also the care and attention you give.

Looking after the coat

Grooming your cat will soon become a special moment of love and sharing between you and your cat. A beautiful coat is much appreciated by the cat and reflects not only in good health but also the care and attention you give. Brushing is essential to remove the dead hair remaining in the fur and to avoid your cat swallowing it. Too much licking runs the risk of causing it to ingest too much hair and fur balls forming in the stomach. Fur balls can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, and can damage your cat’s growth. Get your cat used to brushing by finishing a brushing session with a cuddle or a game.

Grooming short haired breeds

A weekly brush is usually sufficient. Before brushing, you can massage against the hair direction with a “toothed“ glove which will eliminate dead hair and stimulate the skin. Brushing is done with a soft brush, preferably with natural bristles, so as not to damage the coat.

Worming

The most common worms that affect cats in Australia are roundworm, hookworm and tapeworm. Worms are a common cause of ill health in pets and can cause signs such as loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea and in severe cases even death.

Kittens should be wormed at 2, 4, 6, 8 and 12 weeks of age, then every 3 months for life with an allwormer, eg.

Flea Control

Fleas are unfortunately an ever present nuisance to our pets. If they exist in the environment they will find a way onto your cat's skin.

Fleas can be prevented easily and effectively with a once a month topical solution. All pets in the household need to be treated. Kittens can be given a topical flea treatment as early as 6-8 weeks of age.

Your cat and vaccinations

Vaccinations are administered from kittenhood with boosters given throughout life. Every cat is different and that is why your veterinarian will advise you on which diseases your cat needs to be protected from based on their environment and lifestyle.

To safeguard your pet from potentially serious and sometimes fatal diseases we recommend vaccinations. Cats are vaccinated against:

  • Feline Enteritis - This is the most common life threatening disease affecting cats. It is a very contagious viral disease with a high death rate especially in cats under 12 months of age. Signs include fever, depression, severe stomach pain, vomiting diarrhoea and dehydration.

  • Feline Respiratory Disease (Cat Flu) - This is a highly contagious disease. Cats of all age are at risk, especially young kittens, Siamese and Burmese cats. Signs include sneezing, nasal discharge, runny eyes, coughing, loss of appetite and tongue ulcers. This can lead to severe dehydration followed by death.

  • Feline Chlamydia - Chlamydia is an organism that causes eye disease, predominantly seen in kittens up to 9 months of age. The signs of infection are discharge from the eyes (sticky eye or conjunctivitis) and nose, fever, coughing, respiratory signs, enlarged lymph nodes, inappetence, weight loss and depression. Chlamydia is found in up to 1/3 of cases of conjunctivitis and is transmitted by close and persistent contact between cats.

  • FIV Feline Immunodeficiency Virus - This blood borne viral infection causes feline AIDS which is potentially fatal. Vaccination is available and will be recommended by our veterinarians if your cat is considered to be at risk. The virus interferes with the immune system and initial symptoms such as fever, sores, lesions and diarrhoea progress to severe chronic infections as the immune system is overcome. There is no treatment or cure for the virus itself.

Your kitten will require a course of three vaccinations:

  • 6 weeks First Vaccination – Temporary

  • 10 Weeks Booster Vaccination

  • 14 Weeks Final Vaccination

One week after the 14 vaccination your kitten can go outside and socialise with other cats.

FIV Vaccination requires a course of 3 vaccinations which can be done at 10, 12 & 14 weeks of age or later in life also. Cats vaccinated for FIV after 6 months will require a blood test prior to vaccination.

Adult cats require an annual vaccination booster for life.

Vaccinations and cats - the diseases and names explained

Chlamydophila, Leukaemia, Panleukopenia are just some of the words you may hear your veterinarian referring to when discussing cat diseases in the community.  With a cross between medical terminology and more common names, it can all get a little confusing. So to help out here is a list of the most commonly discussed cat diseases we vaccinate against and some of the names you will hear used. 

Feline Enteritis also known as Panleukopenia

Onset of this disease is very rapid and can often be fatal. Cats become infected by direct faecal and oral contact as well as indirectly by contaminated objects such as food bowls, bedding, floors and contact by hands. Signs include high temperature, loss of appetite, depression, vomiting and diarrhoea. Vaccination is very effective and has thankfully reduced the incidence of the disease, however enteritis can easily become infectious amongst an unvaccinated and susceptible population.

Feline Leukaemia Virus also abbreviated to FeLV

By attacking the immune system this virus makes cats more susceptible to infection and illness as well as prone to developing certain cancers. Cats become infected by mutual grooming, sharing food and water, mating or from bites from infected cats. Symptoms are non-specific including weight loss, lethargy, and poor health. A blood test can detect if a cat is infected, however there is no treatment for this fatal virus.

Chlamydophila previously known as Chlamydia

Chlamydophila primarily causes conjunctivitis in young kittens and upper respiratory tract disease. Cats become infected by direct contact with other cats. Clinical signs usually develop within a few days to a week after infection and begin as a watery discharge from one or both eyes.

Feline Respiratory Disease - may be referred to as Cat Flu, Herpes Virus, Rhinotracheitis or Calicivirus

Once a cat is infected, flu like signs will be exhibited for a short period of time. The virus however, remains latent within the body and can recur. This is often brought on about by stress. Cats become infected by close contact with other cats. Signs include sneezing, coughing, eye and nose discharge, loss of appetite and sometimes ulcers on the tongue. This can lead to severe dehydration and debilitation which can be fatal.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus also referred to as FIV or Feline AIDs

This blood borne viral infection causes Feline AIDs which is potentially fatal. Even though FIV is related to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), no human has ever been reported to be infected with FIV. Cats become infected with FIV by bite wounds from other cats and can also be transmitted by a mother cat to her kittens across the placenta or through her milk. The virus interferes with the immune system, and initial symptoms such as fever, sores, lesions and diarrhoea progress to severe chronic infections as the immune system is overcome. There is no treatment or cure for the virus itself.

Erythrocyte Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (PK Deficiency) in Felines

Erythrocyte Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (PK Deficiency) is an inherited hemolytic anemia caused by insufficient activity of this regulatory enzyme which results in instability and loss of red blood cells. The anemia is intermittent, the age of onset is variable and clinical signs are also variable. Symptoms of this anemia can include: severe lethargy, weakness, weight loss, jaundice, and abdominal enlargement. This condition is inherited as an autosomal recessive.

Based on a survey of 38 breeds, the mutation responsible for PK deficiency has been found in significant frequency in Abyssinian, Bengal, Domestic Shorthair and Longhair, Egyptian Mau, La Perm, Maine Coon, Norwegian Forest, Savannah, Siberian, Singapura and Somali. Cats of these breeds are at higher risk of having PK deficiency or producing affected offspring; genetic screening for the mutation is recommended. A few breeds showed very low frequency of the mutation (less than 0.2%) and are low risk: Exotic Shorthair, Oriental Shorthair and Persian.

About the test

Until recently, diagnostic testing has only been available in laboratories in the USA. The Molecular Diagnostic Unit can now offer a genetic test to diagnose autosomal-recessive pyruvate kinase deficiency (PK Def) in cats. This genetic test is based on PCR that can reliably distinguish between affected, carrier and normal cats.

Results are reported as:

​Test Result

PK deficiency status

N/N

no copies of PK deficiency, cat is normal

N/K

1 copy of PK deficiency, cat is normal but is a carrier.

K/K

2 copies of PK deficiency, cat is or will be affected. Severity of symptoms cannot be predicted.

Please note: The test detects the normal and mutant PKDef genes found in domestic cats. Hybrid cats (e.g. Bengal and Savannah) may not give accurate results due to Wild cat DNA being present (this is something we are investigating). There is no point in testing Asian Leopard Cats and Servals for PKDef since the mutant gene came from the domestic cat population.


How to choose a kitten?

The appearance of a kitten in a new home

Mastering new home

Behavior of the Bengal breed cats

Health and Heredity of the Bengal breed

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