Many people wonder how we feel about vaccines and wonder if we vaccinate our kittens before going to new homes.
Basically, we are conservative when it comes to vaccines. We feel that most vets are over vaccinating and do too many at once.
In the past, we generally have not vaccinated our kittens before they go to new homes (with the exception of Rabies, as required by state law and if they are old enough to receive the vaccine). Recently we have re-evaluated the use of vaccines. We have found that older viruses have become stronger in the past few years and if a cat does catch these viruses, they are not as easily fought off as they used to be. We stopped vaccinating for core vaccines quite a number of years ago, and our program has been mostly healthy since that time. However, newer vaccines may be out that are more effective, and have less risks. We are in the process of trying the newer versions of core vaccines and will update here if we find that they are useful in our program. It may be a necessary evil in light of the stronger viruses out there circulating now. We have not yet had the chance to make a decision on whether or not they will be better for our program, or won't work for our program.
The main reason we have chosen to not vaccinate over the years is because of health reasons. In the past we have tried many different options. We have waited to vaccinate at 12 weeks old, we have vaccinated as early as 4 weeks old, we have vaccinated at 8 weeks and at 12 weeks, we have tried many combinations of ages and both intranasal and injectable vaccines. Of all the combinations and types of vaccines we have tried, we have found that simply not vaccinating our kittens at all proved to be the healthiest option for our kittens. Prior to our decision to not vaccinate, when we were vaccinating, we had healthy litters go from being perfectly healthy, to sneezing that took a long time to resolve, and even worse, some kittens had side effects like actually getting the disease for which they were vaccinate for, and as bad as even death from vaccine reactions.
We had researched the pros and cons to vaccinations and had reached the conclusion that a kitten with a immature immune system should not be subjected to foreign antibodies via an unnatural route.
Further, of the three 'core' vaccines recommended, two of them are "colds" which usually resolve with no significant harm to the cat. Only one of the core vaccines is usually fatal, but that particular disease is almost eradicated from the United States anyway, and a cat that is kept strictly indoors as a pet is not at any great risk of contracting that disease. On top of that, the first two core vaccines mentioned, do not keep the cat from catching the disease, they are only supposed to limit the severity of the disease when the cat does get it. As we reevaluate the newer core vaccines, we will update on whether or not we choose to continue using them and if they are more successful in preventing disease. The older vaccines were an utter failure.
Some vaccines are not very effective and can be very dangerous. FIP is a dangerous vaccine and not very effective. FIV is a very dangerous vaccine because once a cat is vaccinated with it, the cat will test positive for FIV for the rest of it's life. This means that is somehow your cat gets outside and ends up in a shelter, most likely it will be euthanized immediately because the shelter will think your cat has FIV.
Given all the pros and cons of vaccines, we recommend a few things:
1.)Wait at least a week or until the new kitten has settled in and feels at home and is not under stress from the move.
2.)To not give more than one vaccine at a time so the immune system does not need to work as hard to develop antibodies to so many different viruses at once.
3.)To vaccine only for panleukopenia and rabies and nothing experimental and proven not to work like FIP, FIV, bordetella etc, or anything that is generally not lethal like rhinotracheitis and calicivirus <--- note: this has changed recently in light of the stronger versions of these diseases circulating.
4.)Be informed about all vaccines before going to the vets and have reasons why you should not vaccinate if you choose not. Most vets will recommend lots of vaccines. It is your job to be informed about the best care for your kitty! Don't leave it up to the vets.
5.)Never vaccinate at the same time of any surgery, or if the kitten is sick.
6.)After initial kitten shots, to only give the kitten/cat vaccines every three years (or longer) instead of every year
Provided on this page are is some good articles for you about vaccines to help you make an informed decision on weather or not you should vaccinate your kitten. (please see "SUPPLEMENTAL VACCINE INFORMATION" below). Please realize it is a risk both ways, weather or not you choose to vaccinate your kitten. You must make a decision based on what you believe is less risky given your circumstances.
For cats being shipped out of the United States, we may vaccinate them before leaving here if the country of import requires such vaccines to be given. If the country does not require them, we usually will not give anything not required. We take everything on a case by case basis.
Final note: Because it is a risk both to vaccinate AND to not vaccinate, Pocket Leopards will NOT be held responsible for any sickness the cat may get from either not vaccinating or from vaccinating. Please make an INFORMED decision based on your own circumstances and what you feel is best for your kitten/cat.
Vaccinating with FIP and/or FIV will render our health guarantee null and void and you will be in breach of our contract with you.
NOTE: An update. After a trial period with the newest core vaccines, I have decided to continue vaccinating with 3 way core vaccines which are vaccines for panleukopenia (feline distemper), feline calicivirus, feline herpesvirus type I (rhinotracheitis) and Rabies ( if they are old enough for Rabies). I like to wait longer on the rabies. Most kittens go home before they are old enough for rabies vaccine. At any rate, I will continue to monitor the progress with these core vaccines and everything continues to go well I will continue them. If not, I will reevaluate them and post another update. If you have any concerns, please feel free to contact me.
BENGAL DIET At Pocket Leopards Cattery, we feed a raw meat diet that we make ourselves. This section is to educate you on the diet that bengals need, and gives insight on the different foods that people feed cats and why a dry food or commercial food diet is not the best choice for your bengal cat. All my kittens are fed a 100% raw meat diet. For a copy of a raw meat recipe click on the file above.
First and foremost because of health. I have found that cats are less likely to suffer from common cat illnesses like coccidia, worms, URI's, and IBD/IBS. Fat cats will quickly lose weight and underweight cats will gain weight. Your cats won't be fat though they will be lean and muscular like a cat should be! (note: This diet is NOT A CURE ALL.) An unexpected side effect of this diet was that the bowel movements were less, harder, and small and they do not stink! That's right, NO SMELL AT ALL!!!
Also the fur became shinier, softer and more beautiful.
And lastly it is less expensive than feeding high quality commercial diets. You will not only save on the food but you will save on litter too because you will be buying litter much less often because it takes a long time to stink up the litter as long as you scoop on a regular basis. If you buy 4 lbs. of chicken thighs for $4.00 and then spend another couple of dollars on heart/liver and the few other little things, your only spending $6.00 for 4 cats for about 4 days worth of food. How long does it take for 4 adult cats to eat $4.00 worth of premium cat food (canned and dry)? Now add to that having to buy a heck of a lot less litter and you will see the savings. Now on top of that subtract all the money you spend taking your cat to the vet because of all those pesky illnesses that cats tend to get. Now I'm not saying you'll never have to take your cat to the vet but it has been in my personal experience that cats are so healthy on this diet that it is rare that they have to go to the vet for illnesses. Your adult cats may not take to this diet willingly. In that case you will have to mix a little in with their canned food and slowly decrease the canned and increase the raw diet until they are only eating raw. After they get used to it they will never want to go back! They love it!!
At first your cats will most likely eat a whole lot more than normal because they are trying to make up for the nutrients that they have not been getting on a commercial diet. After about 2 weeks - 1 month they will start to even out in the amount they eat unless they are still growing or pregnant/lactating. In a matter of days to weeks you should see improvement in the consistency of their bowel movements, and in the texture of their fur.
My cats are currently on a raw meat diet and an alternative diet that contains no grains and no chemically denatured meat. If you simply don't have the time or desire to make your own raw meat recipe for your bengal kitten and cat, then you can now buy premade raw diet designed for cats at just about every pet store, and even at some higher end grocery stores.
NOTE: Because of Covid 19 and the fear of interruption of meat supply chains, we have decided to put all of our kittens on a combo of raw meat and dry food diet. That way they are used to eating both/either if a supply chain for food is interrupted. This is not the ideal diet for our cats but we would rather be safe than sorry.
Many people understandably worry about how breeding animals and kittens are kept in catteries. Here is how our cattery is different from a lot of catteries: 1.)Our cats are never housed in small cages or in cages on a permanent basis. We occasionally utilize the use of spacious three story cages, only in times where a cat or kitten needs to be isolated because of illness, or when litters are very small and not able to roam about yet. Our use of cages are kept to an absolute minimum and even when we do utilize cages, we will never put our cats in very small cages.
-Minimum space for our cages is 36 x 22 x 51 Inches, and this size is only for short periods of time if we need to disinfect floors we will stick our kittens inside just until the floors dry, or to keep them from being underfoot for other small tasks in the kitten room.
-Minimum space for litters of very tiny kittens who are still to young to leave the nest, along with each momma cat is (two)36" x 22" x 51" three tier cages placed side by side with a hole that goes through from one cage to the other (totaling 72" x 44" x 102" OR 6 ft x 3.6 ft x 8.5 ft OR 183.60 cubic square feet. Note: since a lot of the space is vertical space, I calculated cubic foot as well. Cats can utilize vertical space as much, if not more, than floor space. Cats actually prefer vertical space. ). That way momma has room to get away from her babies when she feels like it. Please note, we do not utilize cages at all if possible. We try to keep the very small kittens in a separate indoor area, away from the older kittens, but occasionally we have too many litters at once and will need to utilize cages. If need be, we sometimes combine small litters when they are very young, so that we have less litters in separate areas, that way many times we can completely eliminate the use of cages. Please realize that tiny kittens should not be kept free roaming in the main kitten area for several reasons. The main reason being that the older kittens will try and nurse momma cat and steal all the milk from the tiny babies. They could also injure the tiny babies by trying to play rough with them. In addition, small kittens who are not litterbox trained yet are almost impossible to litter box train if they are free roaming. They must be in a more confined space in order to learn good litter box habits. Once they are litterbox trained around 6 weeks old, they are moved to the main kitten room to roam freely with the rest of the older kittens.
- We keep our breeding studs and breeding queens in large enclosures, attached to indoor areas, outside. We aim to keep our queens with the studs as long as possible and only move queens inside to the queening areas right before labor and delivery. That way our studs almost always have female companions, and our queens are able to roam freely about in enclosures, for longer periods of time before being more confined for labor and delivery and young kitten rearing.
- Our older kittens (once they are wandering from the nest box and litter box trained, around the age of 6 weeks old) are moved from the queening areas, into the kitten room, to roam freely in our kitten room where they have access to toys, cat trees, and a cat wheel. They receive attention daily and are played with daily (from birth they are handled daily). They are never caged unless we need to isolate because of illness or for very short periods of time to clean/disinfect the kitten room. Because we raise them in more of a "home environment/setting" there is not as much transition from them leaving our cattery and going into a new home. Kittens that are reared completely in cages, are not equipped to make the transition from a cage, to a home environment. They become too "institutionalized" to fare well in a home environment. If you are looking for a kitten as a pet, you would do well to avoid getting a kitten from a cattery that keeps kittens in cages their entire life up to the point of going home with you.
2.)We have a small program that focuses on health and socialization. We have less breeding cats than most catteries. We only have two studs, and anywhere from 2 to 4 breeding queens at any given time. With so few cats, we can focus our attention on health and socialization of the kittens.
Fewer litters at any given time means that there is less potential for disease transmission between litters. Less kittens means less overcrowding. Overcrowding can lead to stress and lowered immune systems. Fewer kittens and fewer litters means that we are not as cramped for space as other catteries so we do not have to utilize cages as often, and when we do utilize cages, the cages are larger than can be used in a cramped, full cattery, with many breeding cats and litters of kittens all of the time.
Less kittens also means that we have more time to spend with each kitten, therefore more time for socialization.