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Caring For Your Cat

Bringing home a new kitten is an exciting time for everyone involved. Your kitten should be examined when he/she is 6-8 weeks old or within 2 weeks of adoption.

All kittens or newly adopted cats should be tested for feline leukemia and FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus).

There are 3 sets of vaccinations kittens receive at 6-8 weeks, 12 weeks, and 16 weeks. One protects against distemper and 3 respiratory viruses. This is given at least 2 times for a kitten. The rabies vaccine is given between 12-16 weeks of age. If your cat is going outside, the feline leukemia virus vaccine is strongly recommended as the vaccine is almost 90% protective against this fatal disease.

Feline leukemia is a devastating disease that often results in death. Although not as prevalent as it once was, vaccinating your cat against it, even if he / she is an indoor-only cat, is the best means of protection. Therefore, especially if your cat goes outside, it is strongly recommended to vaccinate him/ her! The initial feline leukemia vaccine can be given as early as 10 weeks of age and is followed by a booster vaccine 3 weeks later. Once your cat has received all his/her vaccinations, he/she will be on a yearly exam and vaccination schedule.

The annual exam is extremely important in cats as subtle signs of disease may be present. Cats are very good at hiding illnesses!

Your cat is considered geriatric at the age of 7 and yearly bloodwork is recommended after the age of 10. Early detection of diseases, although not reversible, can be managed to prolong the life of your cat.
Signs of disease include:
  • An increase in drinking along with an increase in the amount of urine produced

  • Increased appetite or decreased appetite

  • Inappropriate urination or defecation

  • Change in behavior

  • Change in sleeping habits

  • Increased vocalization

  • Bad breath

Caring For Your Bunny

Bringing home a new bunny is an exciting time for everyone involved.Bunnies make wonderful pets and, with proper care and nutrition, can live for 10-12
years! Choosing a bunny is very important as they tend to have a variety of personalities. Bunnies do not completely develop their personality until they are about a year old; therefore, adopting a rescued bun will allow you to be a better judge of their character and how they will interact with you and your family.

Here are some tips to keep your bun happy and healthy.

Housing and Exercise:
  • Your bunny should be housed in a 1-2 level hutch without wire flooring (bunnies don’t have pads on their feet and the wire can cause sores to develop).

  • A litter box can be placed in the cage to encourage the bun to use the box…however, this takes lots of patience (they do not train as easily as cats!).

  • You will also need a water dish (a heavy ceramic one is preferred to a
    water bottle), a bowl for pellets, and a hay rack.

  • Bunnies need supervised time outside of their cage – 1-2 hours a day is usually sufficient. Unsupervised buns can get into lots of trouble!! Bunnies are also easily trained to wear cat harnesses with a leash attached.

  • It is critical to supply your bunny with an appropriate diet!!

  • Timothy Hay should be available at all times…this provides excellent fiber and helps keep the digestive tract moving as well as helps to maintain healthy teeth (which grow continuously in rabbits).

  • ¼ cup pellets per day is sufficient and Timothy Hay pellets are the best kind…bunnies do not need a “pellet mixture” …this can lead to finicky and overweight buns.

  • Oxbow Hay products ( are an excellent choice for your bun’s diet and and they produce high quality Timothy Hay and pellets.

  • Treats are a great way to reward your bun…in limited quantities – papaya tablets (Oxbow), raviolos (Vitakraft), and yogurt drops (Vitacraft) are favorites and can be a good way to train your bun to return to his/her cage…just shake the container before you give them a treat and they will rapidly associate the sound with “treat time”.

  • Fresh vegetables are also an important part of your rabbit’s diet. Small amounts of carrots (1-3 baby carrots), broccoli (1-3 small pieces), green beans (1-3 chopped), and a handful of mixed greens twice daily is ideal.

  • Fresh fruit is more of a treat and should be limited to very small amounts (1-3 1” pieces) every few days.

  • Vegetables that are high in calcium (spinach, alfalfa) should only be fed on occasion, if at all. Rabbits produce lots of calcium crystals in their urine and increased dietary calcium can result in urinary sludging, bladder stones, and scalding around their bottoms.

Additional Tips:
  • Bunnies like to chew!! If they are going to be in the house, close supervision along with “rabbit-proofing” is necessary. Electrical cords are a favorite chew item as are wooden furniture legs and books. Contrary to what you may think, bunnies can get on furniture and climb quite well…thus, the fabric on your favorite chair/ sofa can also be at risk!

  • It is a good idea to have your bun spayed or neutered…female bunnies can become very aggressive as they reach puberty and can develop uterine cancer later in life; male bunnies will begin to spray when they reach puberty. These surgeries are usually done between the ages of 4-6 months.

  • Rabbits are very susceptible to a condition referred to as “GI stasis” that occurs when their gut motility decreases due to a number of reasons (nutrition is generally the underlying cause however). The major sign of stasis is a bun with decreased amount and size of fecal pellets (or no fecal pellets), not eating, and huddling in the corner of the hutch. This is a life-threatening emergency and requires immediate veterinary care!

  • Have your veterinarian check your bunny’s teeth…if they do not fit together properly, they will require trimming every few months.

  • Rabbits practice what is known as “cecotrophy” which involves ingestion of cecotropes (a softer fecal pellet contained in a mucus membrane) that ferment in the rabbit’s stomach and provide additional nutrition.

Another excellent resource is The House Rabbit Society website which covers all of this information in greater depth!
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