Please Note: We will be closed Monday, May 30th for Memorial Day.


This pack is designed to provide information you may need when raising your new kitten.

Kitten Pack

Welcome to Eastown Veterinary Clinic!

Welcome and thank you for choosing Eastown Veterinary Clinic. At Eastown Veterinary Clinic we offer a new level of full-service veterinary medicine. Our staff seeks to provide a friendly and positive atmosphere for you and your pets during each visit. We are proud to be AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) accredited, which means we have a higher standard for veterinary care than other clinics. Please click here to view our services.

First Visit: 8-11 weeks old

• Wellness Exam
• Distemper
• Fecal
• Leukemia Vaccine
• Leukemia/FIV Test
• Heartworm Prevention/De-wormer

Second Visit: 12-14 weeks old (3-4 weeks later)

• Wellness Exam
• Distemper
• Leukemia Vaccine
• Recombinant Rabies
• Fecal
• Heartworm Prevention/De-wormer

Third Visit: 15-18 weeks old (3-4 weeks later)

• Wellness Exam
• Distemper
• Fecal*
• Heartworm Prevention/De-wormer
• Discuss Spay/Neuter/Declaw
• Pre-anesthetic blood work

6 Months old

• Spay/Neuter
• Microchip

*this may depend on results of previous stool samples

Spaying your cat is an important part of basic cat health care. Spaying at a young age prevents mammary cancer and spaying at any age prevents unwanted kittens, noisy heat cycles, and possibly even urine marking in the house. The following is a list of frequently asked questions gleaned from years of veterinary practice as well as from answering questions online. We have found that even though the cat spay is a routine and a commonly performed procedure, many pet owners still have questions. Hopefully, this FAQ will be helpful.

How long will my cat stay in the hospital?

Our hospital prefers to keep surgery cases overnight so that they can have “bed rest” in a properly confined area. We believe that this first night of confinement helps the incision in healing. Some hospitals and most spay clinics will release the cat on the same day as surgery so that she may be observed at home in case of problems. Either way is legitimate and largely depends on the preference and philosophy of the doctor in charge of setting policy.

Will he/she have stitches?

Some veterinarians always place skin stitches. Some veterinarians never place skin stitches and prefer to close the incision with “buried” stitches that are internal. The spay incision is closed in several layers (the abdominal muscles, the tissue under the skin, and the skin itself may all be closed separately).

What can I expect regarding recovery period/incision care?

One of the advantages of keeping cats overnight after spaying is that they usually go bouncing out of the hospital as if nothing has happened. Some cats will not eat for the first day or so but if she does not seem back to normal by the day following discharge, we would like to know about it.

Cats discharged on the same day as surgery may experience more soreness if not confined to a small area. Food and water are generally withheld until the next day or late that night and she should be kept quiet and not allowed outside. Cats should not be discharged while still groggy in any way from anesthesia as they are a danger to themselves and to their human handlers.

Later in the recovery period, it is not unusual to notice swelling at the incision site. Cats often react this way to internal sutures and this kind of swelling is common and resolves spontaneously. Such swellings are firm and there is no fluid drainage or bleeding from the incision. They generally resolve in 3 to 4 weeks.

Any fluid drainage from the incision is abnormal and if possible the cat should be rechecked by the veterinarian who performed the spay.

What’s the difference between spaying in a hospital versus spaying in a low cost spay clinic?

This question may have a very regional answer depending on what sort of low cost facilities are available in a given area. Most areas have some sort of low cost spay/neuter option (consult your local animal shelter for more information). There are some general principles that tend to hold true.

Low cost spay/neuter facilities operate on a tight budget in order to provide a low cost service and still be able to pay for supplies and staff. This means they use cheaper materials for suture and anesthesia, often have limited hours, and may not have state of the art monitoring equipment or capabilities in case of emergency. Probably most important is the fact that in order to stay in business, a low cost clinic must perform a high volume of surgeries each day. This limits the individual attention a patient can receive if an “assembly line” approach is used. Often these are the situations where only the ovaries are removed and the uterus is left behind so as to save time or where the entire spay is performed through a tiny incision only a half inch or so long so as to save time closing (and sacrifice inspection of the abdomen for bleeding). Most of the time, the end result is the same: a spayed happy female cat and, of course, cost can be an important factor. It is a good idea to know what one is paying for, however. It may be a good idea to have a tour of your local spay/neuter facility and see what they have to offer.

A full service hospital tends to have more nursing care anesthesia throughout the procedure, fluid support, all day (sometimes all night) patient observation, safer anesthetics, less reactive suture materials, and most importantly individual attention to each patient. As a prominent member of the surgery board once said, “Speed is not a legitimate goal in surgery. Doing a careful, meticulous job is the real goal.”

It should be noted that many full service hospitals have some low cost options. Sometimes there are special arrangements for rescue or shelter dogs, people with multiple pets, senior citizens or even an annual special. Check with your vet to see if you qualify for any special programs.

Will spaying affect her personality?

The female cat spends at least half the year with her reproductive tract dormant (cats only cycle seasonally, primarily in the spring and summer). This means that, behaviorally speaking, she acts spayed most of the time and no personality change should be noted. This said, it is important to realize that a cycling cat can be extremely solicitous of affection. This kind of playful, flirtatious behavior will stop with spaying.

How long after having kittens can she be spayed?

The mammary (breast) development that comes with nursing can make the spay surgery more difficult. Ideally, a month after weaning allows for regression of this tissue and spaying can proceed. Unfortunately, it is possible for a female cat to become pregnant during this waiting period if her owner is not careful.

At what age can my cat be spayed?

The traditional age for spaying is six months; however, this practice has enabled kittens to be adopted from the shelters unspayed. Often the new owner fails to return for spaying and the result is further contribution to the pet over-population problem. The last 20 years has brought us a great deal of research into “early” spaying and we now know that there is no problem with spaying as early as 8 weeks of age.
Our hospital finds such tiny tissues difficult to manipulate and we like to spay our female patients when they are 5-6 months of age.

Will she get fat and lazy after spaying?

Estrogens have a natural appetite suppressing effect and the loss of estrogens may lead to an increased appetite. Further, sterilization surgery has been shown to slow a cat’s metabolism. Depending on the cat’s age and activity level at the time of surgery calorie intake should be matched to activity level. ¼ cup twice a day is a good start.

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Why Neutering is a Good Idea?

Neutering a male cat is an excellent step to help your young man grow into a loving, well-adapted household citizen. The main reason to neuter a male cat is to reduce the incidence of objectionable behaviors that are normal in the feline world but unacceptable in the human world.

ROAMING: More than 90% will reduce this behavior with neutering. Approximately 60% reduce this behavior right away

FIGHTING: More than 90% will reduce this behavior with neutering Approximately 60% reduce this behavior right away

URINE MARKING: More than 90% will reduce this behavior with neutering. Approximately 80% reduce this behavior right away.

Early Neuter?

A common animal shelter practice has been to adopt a young kitten with the new owner paying a neuter deposit to be refunded when the kitten is neutered at the traditional age of six months. The problem has been that new owners do not return and young cats are not neutered. Early neutering allows for kittens to be neutered prior to adoption. There has been some controversy over this practice as it flies in the face of tradition but all research to date has shown no negative consequences to early neutering. My hospital supports early neutering but to wait until 5-6 months of age before neutering so that the tissues are not too difficult to manipulate.

Some myths have been:
Early neutering is more likely to prevent objectionable behaviors than is neutering at a later age. This has not borne out. Neutering at any age is associated with the same statistics as listed above.

Kittens neutered early will be stunted or small. This is not true though early neutered kittens will not develop a more masculine.

Early neutered kittens will have a narrowed urethra that will predispose them to blockage with feline lower urinary tract disease. Early neutering does not seem to be a significant factor in this syndrome.


There is minimal recovery with this procedure. There should be no bleeding or swelling. It is a good idea not to bathe the kitten until the incisions have healed 10 to 14 days from the time of surgery.

Declawing and Its Alternatives

Declawing has probably become the most controversial of all the elective surgical procedures commonly performed by veterinarians. While it is normal for cats to scratch things (to mark territory as well as to condition their claws) this behavior can destroy the bond between an owner and feline friend. Cats, especially adolescent cats, have a tendency to play rough, scratching their owners or other pets in play, sometimes violently. Claws serve to mark territory and assist in communicating territorial messages to other cats though this behavior can be undesirable when it is directed against furniture. The declaw surgery represents a permanent solution to these problems; however, it is popularly held that a number of adverse conditions result from declawing, and that it is a form of mutilation. Pet owners need to sort out the facts from the rumors surrounding this procedure, as well as understanding all of the options involved.


Scratching is a natural behavior of cats, which makes it difficult to modify. The usual goal is to transfer the cat’s scratching instinct to a scratching post; it is virtually impossible to control the desire to scratch completely. In general, this kind of training requires a great deal of time at home. Training tips include:

• Cats seem to prefer to scratch upholstery with a vertical drag to the fabric. Furniture can be upholstered in an unacceptable fabric and a scratching post can be swathed in an appropriate fabric (rather than the usual carpet).

• Furniture can be made unacceptable by using plastic or even aluminum foil to cover the target pieces. Spray-on antiperspirants can be sprayed on the furniture as a repellent. Double stick tape can be used on furniture to create an undesirable scratching area.

• Treats or catnip can be used to attract the cat to the scratching post.

• The cat can be punished for furniture scratching attempts but it is important that the cat not connect the punishment with the person administering it (otherwise the cat will simply learn not to scratch while that person is watching). Yelling, spanking, or shaking a can with pennies in it is too directly associated with the person rather than the act of scratching. A water squirt bottle is better but only if the cat does not see where the squirt comes from. Booby traps can be set up using balloons. If mouse traps are used, it is vital that they be turned upside-down so that the cat cannot possibly catch a foot in the trap. Stacked traps can be set up so that they pop upward when tripped, making a surprising noise. In this way, punishment can still be carried out when the owner is not at home.

Many owners are not excited about putting mousetraps up against their living room furniture, upholstering in aluminum foil, or decorating sofas and chairs with balloons. It is easy to see why a surgical solution would be attractive.

Nail Trimming

For some cats, simply keeping the nails short is adequate control but many people do not know how to trim their cat’s nails. In fact, the non-pigmented nail of the cat makes it easy to see where not to cut.

Soft Paws

This is another popular method of controlling a scratching problem. Blunt acrylic nail caps are glued onto the cat’s claws. The idea is that the blunt nail will not be sharp enough to cause damage. The veterinary staff will place the first set but typically after that the owner has the option of placing the caps at home.

What to Expect / Possible Complications

• The nail caps will wear off but not at the same time. After a couple of weeks some of the nails will be capped and others will not be

• The nail caps must be replaced as the nail grows out.

• Some cats are not in the least discouraged from scratching by these caps and are able to simply scratch larger holes in the upholstery.

Declaw: The Resco Clipper Method

This is probably the most common method used by veterinarians to declaw cats as it is associated with the fastest surgery time. It involves the use of a sterile nail trimmer to cut through the bone of the third digit of the toe. The cat loses the part of the bone from which the claw grows. The incision is either sewn closed with suture material or closed in surgical glue.

What to Expect / Possible Complications

• Two nights in the hospital are required for this procedure (one night with bandages and one without).

• Some spotting of blood is normal from the toes during the first few days at home (beware of that with white carpeting).

• Shredded paper or pelleted recycled newspaper litter (such as Yesterday’s News®) is recommended for 10 days after surgery. Conventional clay or sand litters can impact the tiny incisions and cause infections.

• Pain medication is a good idea, especially for larger or older cats. The amount of weight carried on the feet (the size of the cat) is the biggest factor in post-operative pain.

• Occasionally not enough of the third bone is removed and the claw regrows. When this occurs, infection is generally inevitable and the remaining bone must be removed.

• If the ungula crest of the nail (the area from which the claw grows) is not removed, the claw may be able to partly grow back and a second surgery will be needed.

Declaw: The Disarticulation Method

This procedure is a bit more difficult to master as it involves the delicate disconnection of all the tiny ligaments holding the third bone in place. The entire third bone is removed.

What to Expect / Possible Complications

• Because the entire third bone is removed, there is a zero possibility of the claw growing back; however, the cut ligaments allow for a subtle drop in the way the foot is held. Most owners do not notice this change in posture.

• Two nights in the hospital are required for this procedure (one night with bandages and one without).

• Some spotting of blood from the toes is normal during the first few days at home (beware of this with white carpeting).

• Shredded paper or pelleted recycled newspaper litter (such as Yesterday’s News®) is recommended for 10 days after surgery. Conventional clay or sand litters can impact the tiny incisions and cause infections.

• Pain medication is a good idea, especially for larger or older cats. The amount of weight carried on the feet (the size of the cat) is the biggest factor in post-operative pain.

This is the method Eastown Veterinary Clinic chooses to use: The Laser Declaw
Recently, the laser declaw has received a great deal of attention. In this surgery, a laser rather than a scalpel blade is used to disarticulate the third toe bone. Advantages of laser surgery include virtually no bleeding during surgery or afterwards, less post-operative pain, and in many cases, no bandages.

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 Myths and Rumors:

After declawing, a cat is likely to become fearful or experience behavior changes impairing an affectionate relationship with its owner. Numerous scientific studies have been unable to document any behavior changes post-declaw. In fact, in one survey 70% of owners of declawed cats reported an improved relationship with their cat after the procedure.

A declawed cat has lost its ability to defend itself and should not be allowed outside. This one is true. Without claws, a cat has indeed lost an important part of his defense system. I feel strongly that declawed cats should be housed indoors only.

Declawed cats are more likely to bite since they can no longer claw. Declawed cats do not seem to realize they have no claws. They will continue to scratch ineffectively as if they did not know the difference. Studies have shown no increased biting tendency after declawing.

The post-operative period involves tremendous pain. The declawed cat will indeed have sore feet after surgery. The larger the cat, the more discomfort there is and reluctance to bear weight. Pain relievers are often prescribed. However, this recovery period should not last longer than a week or so. Healing should be complete by two weeks. Pain after this recovery period is not normal or expected in any way and if a declawed cat seems to be uncomfortable or lame, a recheck appointment is definitely needed.

A declawed cat will not use a litter box again. It is important that litter not get impacted in the declaw incisions during the recovery period. Shredded paper is the usual recommendation during recovery and some cats simply will not use shredded paper. The recycled newspaper litters are an excellent alternative. The only litter problem one might expect would be lack of acceptance of a new litter during the recovery period. Declawed cats do not lose their litter box instinct.

 Tendonectomy: A Surgical Alternative to Declawing

This surgical procedure is gaining popularity with owners who are concerned about the recovery period with a conventional declaw. Here, a ligament is cut on the underside of each toe to prevent grasping motions. The claws remain but the cat cannot extend them.

What to Expect / Possible Complications

• Because the incisions needed for this procedure are so small, the recovery is minimal. No bandages, no special litter, no blood spotting. There are usually no stitches to remove and the tiny incisions are closed in surgical glue.

• Because the cat can no longer make grasping motions, the claws will naturally grow in a circular manner into the foot pads causing pain and infection unless the owner is able to trim the nails on a regular basis. (The tendonectomy patient will require life-long regular nail-clipping).

The most important thing in making a claw management decision is making a decision that you are happy with.
There are positives and negatives with each procedure.

Your cat really isn’t asking for anything more than you would when it comes to a bathroom. All that’s required for most cats is that the bathroom be clean, quiet and offer no surprises. That sounds simple, but the failure to use a litter box is the top behavior complaint of cat lovers, sending countless cats to shelters every year. Before you even consider such a drastic step, you need to try to work things out with your cat if you have a litter box problem. The first step in solving such a problem is to make sure it’s not a medical condition — and that means a trip to your veterinarian for a complete workup. Urinary tract infections and diseases such as diabetes make consistent litter box use impossible for even the most well-intentioned cat. You cannot hope to get your cat using the box again until any health issues have been resolved.

If your cat checks out fine, you need to start working to make sure that everything about the box is to your cat’s liking. The second rule of solving a litter box problem: If the cat isn’t happy, no one will be happy.

Here’s what to look for:

• Cleanliness. Cats are fastidious animals, and if the litter box is dirty, they look elsewhere for a place to go. Clean the box frequently — twice a day at least — and make sure it’s completely scrubbed clean and aired out on a weekly basis. Having an additional litter box may help, too.

• Box type and filler. Many choices people make to suit their own tastes conflict with the cat’s sense of what’s agreeable. A covered box may seem more pleasing to you, but your cat may think it’s pretty rank inside, or scary. Likewise, scented litters may make you think the box smells fine, but your cat may disagree — not only is the box dirty, he reasons, but it’s got this extra “clean” odor he can’t abide. Start with the basics: a large box with unscented clumping-style litter.

• Location. Your cat’s box should be away from his food and water, in a place he can get to easily and feel safe in. Consider a location from a cat’s point of view: Choose a quiet spot where he can see what’s coming at him. A cat doesn’t want any surprises while he’s in the box. You should also experiment with additional boxes in your house, especially if you have more than one cat. The rule of thumb: One box per cat, plus one.

Make the area where your cat has had mistakes less attractive by cleaning it thoroughly with a pet-odor neutralizer (available from pet-supply retailers). Discourage reuse by covering the area with foil, plastic sheeting or plastic carpet runners with the points up.

If changing things around doesn’t clear up the problem in a healthy cat, you may need to retrain him by keeping your pet in a small area such as a guest bathroom for a couple of weeks.

Make sure that the area you choose has no good options besides the litter box — no carpet, no pile of dirty laundry. Block off the bathtub or keep an inch of water in it to discourage its use as a place to go. After your cat is reliably using the litter box, let him slowly expand his territory again. As long as you keep up your end of the bargain and keep the litter box clean and safe, you have a good chance the good behavior will become permanent.

If you just can’t seem to get the problem resolved, ask your veterinarian for a referral to a veterinary behaviorist. These veterinarians are skilled in behavioral problem-solving and are able to prescribe medications that may make the difference during the retraining period.

The trend toward keeping cats indoors is generally a good one, but many cat lovers resist because they know instinctively that an indoor life probably wouldn’t be what a cat would choose for himself. After all, who would want to be kept cooped up when the wide world offers so much in the way of sights, smells and sounds?

Cabin fever may be the bane of an indoor cat’s existence, but you really don’t have to open the front door to provide your cat with a more interesting life. In fact, by just looking at your home from a cat’s point of view and adding a few environmental enrichments, your cat can be both safe and happy indoors. Here are five easy ways to get going:

• Think vertical. Cats love to climb, so give them the opportunity. Cat trees mounted floor-to-ceiling, wrapped with sisal rope and studded with platforms for perching, will give your cat the opportunity to look down on the rest of the world. This is especially satisfying if there are dogs in the household, because what cat wouldn’t like to look down on the dog?
The best example of creating an overhead world for cats is the famous “Cats’ House” in the San Diego area. Bob Walker and Frances Mooney put in a series of cat trees that connect to an overhead network of catwalks. The installation even cuts through walls with special cat-sized portals. Take a look at the possibilities on the couple’s Web site,, or pick up one of their books, including “The Cats’ House” and “Cats Into Everything” (Andrews McMeel Publishing).

• Add toys. The cat with the most toys wins. Every indoor cat should have toys for batting around, toys for chasing, toys for hiding in and toys for interactive play. And don’t forget that some of those toys ought to have catnip in them. While not all cats can enjoy the fragrant herb, those who do find it blissful in the extreme. If your cat is a catnip junkie, indulge him frequently. Rub fresh catnip onto cat trees or scratching posts, or stuff it into toys. It’s perfectly safe for your cat to enjoy the buzz.
Some of the most enjoyable toys for both people and cats are the interactive ones. Every cat lover should have a “kitty tease” toy, typically a flexible rod with a line that ends in something furry or feathery to engage a cat’s prey drive. Other interactive toys include gloves with goodies dangling from the fingertips, or laser pointers that offer cats a spot of light to chase. (Just be careful not to aim the beam in your cat’s eyes.)

• Provide rooms with views. No matter how big your house, your indoor cat will know every one of its sights and sounds within just a few days. Provide a little visual stimulation by putting a bird feeder outside a window fitted with a cat-sized ledge for comfortable viewing.
Be aware, though, that a view of the world isn’t always going to work for your cat. If your yard is attracting other cats from the neighborhood, your own cat may become frustrated by seeing them, and he can even turn that frustration into attacks on people in the house. Blocking visiting cats from your yard or discouraging them with sprinklers may solve the problem. Otherwise, you may have to make certain windows off-limits to your own cat. If a window view isn’t going to work, try a TV. A handful of companies offer DVDs for cats. Pop one of these in and your cat can be entertained with a lively mix of feline-friendly images and sounds, including those of birds and rodents.

• Go green. Cats love nibbling on plants. Any decent feline reference book will provide a list of which plants should not be in a pet-friendly house, or visit the Animal Poison Control Center ( for information on dangerous plants.
After you get the unsafe plants out of the way, protect your decorative houseplants by hanging them up or otherwise putting them out of reach. Keep cats from digging in your decorative pots by putting a layer of small, rough stones over the dirt. You can then add a collection of accessible plants for your cat to nibble on, such as grass shoots, or to enjoy rubbing, such as catnip, valerian or rosemary.

• Give face time. Of course, one of the best things you can do for your indoor cat is spend time with him. Playing, grooming, petting or just plain hanging out — it’s all good. Your cat loves you and loves spending time with you.

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We’re proud to serve Grand Rapids, MI and the surrounding communities.

As a community-focused veterinarian in Grand Rapids, MI, we offer a new level of full-service veterinary medicine at our facility on Lake Drive. We strive to offer excellence and earn the title as your favorite veterinarian in Grand Rapids.


1350 Lake Drive SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49506
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