My hypothetical kittens already have the sniffles.
September 8, 2010 1:55 PM   Subscribe

The Mr and I are seriously considering getting a pair of kittens. We've worked out most of the logistics that this would entail to have the happiest and healthiest cats possible, but he did raise one question that hadn't been a concern with my last cat. His daughter lives in a house with 3 cats. At least one of these cats is indoor/outdoor, our cats would be strictly indoor. When his daughter comes to our house on the weekends, are we putting our cats at any risk of disease?
posted by Zophi to Pets & Animals (12 answers total)
If you keep your cats properly vaccinated, the risk of disease should be minimal.
posted by dersins at 2:00 PM on September 8, 2010

I think it's highly unlikely. Most indoor cats should get almost the same series of vaccinations as outdoor ones, with the only difference being that indoor cats don't necessarily need vaccinations against feline leukemia. But feline leukemia is a retrovirus, meaning that it tends to not be stable outside the body for very long, and I don't think that it's possible to spread it without direct cat-on-cat contact (or at least direct cat-on-infected-food-dish contact).
posted by kataclysm at 2:02 PM on September 8, 2010

If you aren't planning to do regular flea/tick treatment, be on the lookout for such critters when the outdoor cat visits.
posted by thirteenkiller at 2:07 PM on September 8, 2010

If they have their shots, they should be fine.

Keep in mind that "strictly indoor" won't necessarily work that way, anyway -- mine manage to slip out once in a blue moon, even though I'm careful to keep the doors closed, and they also love to sit by the screen door and "chat" with the strays outside. They're vaccinated, and so far they've come to no harm from occasional contact with the outside world. It's definitely best to keep them up-to-date on their shots!
posted by vorfeed at 2:10 PM on September 8, 2010

Last winter, I spent a bit of time one afternoon around some pretty scruffy outdoor-only barn cats. Upon returning home, my indoor-only cat must have gotten something off my coat or whatever because she strangely developed a bit of a cold -- mostly just sneezing and her eyes were a little watery, but she was eating and about as active as usual. It lasted about a week. So, I imagine there may be that chance of passing a kitty cold virus, but I imagine that your kitties should be safe from the more serious diseases from their vaccinations.
posted by sk932 at 2:30 PM on September 8, 2010

FYI in terms of fleas, your vet may try to get you to buy flea treatments because "the fleas can get inside." This is highly unlikely and you will probably be just fine without it. I have had indoor cats for 12 years and never gotten a single flea. However, if there does happen to be an outbreak at your daughter's other house, then you might want to keep an eye out; they could migrate on her body or clothes.

In terms of everything else, commenters above are right on about vaccinations and such. Pretty much the same for both kinds of cats.

Now, if outdoor cat ever comes to visit you, or if you ever plan on boarding your kittens in a big place, do make sure they're 100% vaccinated, for your peace of mind. Also keep up with their rabies shots; you can do it at the vet, but there are also usually free clinics near you if money becomes tight. Just call around or check with your local ASPCA. Yay cats! I think you should retroactively post kitten pics when they get home!
posted by Fui Non Sum at 2:38 PM on September 8, 2010

I am assuming that the cats visit with the daughter? Are the cats vaccinated, healthy? If not, they should be vaccinated (as your kittens should be), but this is not something that is a dealbreaker for you getting kittens is it? That might be a bit extreme.

Which raises a point about whether totally indoor cats have a fully developed immune system if their exposure to nasties is zero?
posted by GeeEmm at 2:46 PM on September 8, 2010

I had several cats at one point. The vet asked if I wanted to get the 'outdoor' shots, or 'indoor' shots. I've always gotten the 'outdoor' shots, because you just NEVER KNOW.
posted by Heretical at 2:58 PM on September 8, 2010

My cats are strictly indoor and get fleas every summer - so YMMV.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:25 PM on September 8, 2010

Ditto Heretical. My cats are Houdinis and on more than one occasion I've woken up in the morning to find one sitting outside the back door rather than inside. Disconcerting, but whatever. We treat for fleas and ticks and keep them up to date on their shots and they have never been ill.

Go for it!
posted by That's Numberwang! at 5:14 PM on September 8, 2010

Thanks! That's what I thought, but already being overprotective of our hypothetical kittens, we wanted to double-check.

Now, to find the right kittens!
posted by Zophi at 6:06 PM on September 8, 2010

It's good that vaccinations and fleas have been addressed, however I have to add a possible downside.

There is a virus for which there is no effective vaccine: Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). Be forewarned, it is scary. Why? Because there's also no test for it, and if a cat develops FIP: "Unfortunately, there is no known cure or effective treatment for FIP at this time. Some treatments may induce short-term remissions in a small percentage of cats; however, FIP is a fatal disease." I recenty lost a cat to it; he had been an indoor cat with his previous owner, but she abandoned him to the streets. I adopted him through an association that cares for street cats; they'd known his owner and so knew he'd been up-to-date on his vaccines. She'd abandoned him that way because she figured they'd take care of him... sigh.

The good news, however, is: "In multiple cat environments, keeping cats as healthy as possible and minimizing exposure to infectious agents decreases the likelihood of cats developing FIP. Litter boxes should be kept clean and located away from food and water dishes. Litter should be cleansed of feces daily, and the box should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected regularly. Newly acquired cats and any cats that are suspected of being infected should be separated from other cats. Preventing overcrowding, keeping cats current on vaccinations, and providing proper nutrition can also help decrease the occurrence of FIP in groups of cats." That said. I had my cat for a year before he developed FIP. He and my other cat were in contact all that time. The only way you know if a cat catches FIP, is if/when they develop it... and die. They can be coronavirus carriers and never develop it, which is both good (for that cat) and bad, for any other cats who may catch it, carry it, and then develop FIP. In short, if at all possible, the cats should use their own litter boxes.
posted by fraula at 1:00 AM on September 9, 2010

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