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C2004-41

Dear Christopher Cat

We are thinking about adopting a cat from the shelter, but we are concerned about the cat bringing an infection home to our other cats. What are the chances of this happening?

Christopher Responds

Very low. Mom says that in her work as a veterinarian, she sees the same low incidence of infectious disease whether cats are adopted from shelters or acquired elsewhere.

Shelters follow strict procedures for cleanliness and disease control, including the quarantine of animals with any signs of illness.

Nevertheless, regardless of where you get your cat, you can select a healthy one by following these suggestions:

Choose a cat with clear eyes and nose. Sneezing, stuffy nose or discharge from the eyes or nose indicate a possible upper respiratory infection, which can spread to other cats.

Before you introduce your new cat to the rest of the family, have your veterinarian do a physical examination to rule out other contagious diseases.

Be sure your new cat’s feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) tests are negative, because these viruses are transmissible to other cats.

This is a great time to visit the shelter and adopt your new family member. November 7 to 13 is National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week, so while you’re there, make a donation.

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