It is nice to see you sharing the link to the IRIS website. I discovered it several years ago and frequently suggest it to others. As a pet owner who talks to other pet owners ... I have found that when a pet is first diagnosed with CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease), one of the first concerns is how serious/advanced is it. It doesn't help that many vets still call it "Chronic Renal FAILURE" which strikes terror into the hearts of most pet owners. I'm a cat person and know that many cats can live for years with CKD with supportive care. On the IRIS website under the "IRIS Guidelines: IRIS Staging of CKD", I like the links for the Posters and/or Cards at a Glance ... both of which give an easy to see summary of the staging system. I like to listen to vet CE talks and it appears that nearly all the specialists are using the IRIS Staging system now.
Have you seen the videos on the Cornell Univ website on "Cat Owner's Guide to Kidney Disease"? It is a series of 5 short videos:
1) How is Kidney Disease Diagnosed? 2) Understanding Kidney Disease 3) Dietary and Drug Therapy 4) Diuresis and Hospitalization 5) Subcutaneous Fluid Therapy
For those who would like to go into Vaccinations more deeply, here are a few more online resources. They are written for vets but most of the information is understandable for pet owners wanting more detailed info.
1) 2006 American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) Feline Vaccination Guidelines
2) Vaccines & Vaccinations: A Reference Website for Veterinarians
This is a personal website by Dr Richard Ford, one of the co-authors of the AAFP Feline Vaccination Guidelines (and also the AAHA Canine Guidelines). He summarizes the 2006 Guidelines in a series of tables as well as gives updated info in footnotes and a Q&A section. There are also links to the AAFP Guidelines (also given above). http://www.dvmvac.com
3) World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) 2010 Guidelines for the Vaccination of Dogs and Cats
This was just published in June 2010. One of the three co-authors is Dr Ron Schultz of the Univ of Wisconsin. Dr Schultz is one of the leading veterinary Immunologists and is a co-author also of the AAFP Feline Guidelines and the AAHA Canine Guidelines. http://www.wsava.org/PDF/Misc/VaccinationGuidelines2010.pdf
4) American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) 2006 Canine Vaccination Guidelines
This is a little off topic ... but for those wanting to learn more about dog vaccinations, this is a link to the AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines. Dr Ford's website (given above) also contains summary tables for these Canine Guidelines.
Cats cycle on average every 14 to 21 days but it can vary widely. In general, they are affected by the amount of daylight hours, so that they have fewer heats during the winter months with shorter daylight hours, then increase in frequency as the days get longer. But, again, it can vary widely in individual cats. A cat's first heat can occur anytime between 4 and 12 months of age.
All of the above info comes from a CD on Feline Reproduction produced by the Winn Feline Foundation and done by Dr Susan Little, ABVP, a Feline specialist (and former cat breeder with expertise in feline reproduction).
I got a new kitten last fall and thought I could wait until after the holidays and get her spayed when she was 7 months old in January ... figuring that since it was winter, she would be less likely to go into heat. I was wrong and she went into heat on Christmas day. My second mistake was thinking there would be at least two weeks before she went into heat again ... but, alas, she went back into heat ten days after finishing her first heat (even in mid-winter with short days). I got her spayed quickly after her second heat.
There are various opinions, even among vets, on the age of spay. Some (especially those working with shelters) advocate "early spay and neuter". By "early" they generally mean between 3 and 6 months. Some have a minimum weight that they want (e.g. 2-3 lbs) before they will do a spay. I know many people who say that cats that are spayed at 3-4 months recover from the surgery very quickly with apparently less discomfort than older cats.
There are other vets (probably the majority) that prefer to wait until a cat is at least 6 months old to do a spay. I think it makes surgery a bit easier for the vet when they are a bit larger and they can use anesthesia protocols that they are more familiar with. With the early spays, vets need to make some alterations to their choice and use of anesthesia, etc. It is always best to do what your vet is most comfortable with.
Most experts do feel that it is very beneficial to spay a cat BEFORE her first heat. According to the page on Mammary Cancer on the Veterinary Partners website (a great place to go for veterinary info for pet owners) ... spaying before 6 months of age will reduce the risk of mammary cancer in later life by 91%. Spaying before one year of age will reduce the risk of mammary cancer by 86% ... and spaying before 2 years of age will reduce the risk by 11%. After 2 years of age, there is no reduction in risk of mammary cancer later in life.
So, depending on what your vet is comfortable with, spaying as early as possible is best.