Kitten Care

Kitten careA new kitten will provide you with a lot of fun and will develop into a great companion. But, although cats are often independent in many ways, there are still several things to consider to ensure your pet is healthy and happy. A cat which has had the appropriate preventative health care program is likely to save you money on treating unnecessary illness and time spent gently handling and playing with your cat will result in a friendly, well-adjusted pet.

Nutrition

The nutritional requirements of cats are different to those of dogs as they are obligate carnivores in need of specific amino acids.

Kittens should be allowed to suckle from their mother until at least eight weeks of age. They should not be weaned prior to this as it can impact negatively on their behavioural development.

You should feed your new kitten a good quality commercial kitten diet, for example Hills Science Diet or Advance kitten food. They will initially require four feeds per day reducing to two feeds a day as they approach six months of age. The calcium content of these diets precludes the need to offer milk but lactose free cat milk may be offered as a treat. It is also important to slowly introduce different foods to kittens so they do not grow into overly picky eaters as adults. This should include some cooked and raw meat and raw chicken necks or wings.

The ideal diet for the adult cat is a combination of fresh meat, to simulate a natural diet, and canned food, to increase the amount of water consumed. A small amount of dry food is allowable to insure that all nutrients are being supplied. Raw chicken wings should be fed to prevent the development of dental disease.

Fresh water must be available at all times. Several different sources of water will encourage your cat to drink more.

Housing

Your new kitten should be kept inside for the first couple of weeks so that it learns to identify your house as home. Time outside has been found to have several health and behavioural benefits as the cat will usually experience more exercise and stimulation. All cats should be kept inside at night, however, to minimise the impact to wild life and reduce inter cat aggression.

Cats and kittens do not like being kept confined near soiled litter trays or having their food dishes near their litter tray as they are very clean animals. It is also important to keep their food and water dishes clean.

Keep a scratching post in a prominent area and encourage the kitten to scratch it by playing with them and dangling toys around the post.

Very young kittens and old cats may require a source of heating in winter but it is usually unnecessary for healthy adult cats. All kittens and cat do love places to hide such as boxes and beds.

House Training

All animal training should be based on ignoring the incorrect behaviour and rewarding the good. Providing a clean litter tray in an initially restricted environment, eg. a laundry, should allow your kitten to find the toilet without any confusion or getting lost. It is soon possible to allow the kitten access to the rest of the house and intermittently return them to the litter tray to remind them to toilet. If you catch them using the tray you should praise them in a positive voice to let them know they’ve done the right thing. The litter must be changed twice daily as the kitten will develop an aversion to using a dirty tray and may start to eliminate in alternative locations.

Exercise

Kittens and cats should be provided with frequent play sessions with toys, balls, paper and boxes. Do not use your hands as toys for kittens to pounce on and bite. If you find your kitten is biting or playing too hard a shrill cry (like a litter mate would make) should be made and the play session ceased. Exercise and play is not only a means of preventing health problems such as diabetes but also helps to form a good bond and relationship between pet and owner.

Worming

Roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms frequently infect kittens and can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, weight loss and anaemia. We can provide you with effective worming preparations which should be administered to your kitten at week four, six, eight, ten and twelve and then every three months for life.

Vaccination

Kittens should be vaccinated to prevent them from the cat flu viruses and feline infectious enteritis. The vaccines are administered at eight, twelve and sixteen weeks and then every one to three years. Kittens who will have access to the outdoors throughout their life and may be at risk of being bitten by other cats are advised to have a Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) vaccine course at the same time intervals.

To book your kitten in for vaccination or a check-up contact Quirindi Veterinary Clinic.

Fleas

These external parasites are not only unpleasant for the animal but are a major cause of skin disease and can transmit disease. They can be very effectively treated with a monthly veterinary spot on product such as Advantage or Revolution. Supermarket products are very often ineffective as they contain permethrin based compounds which fleas are often resistant to and which can, in fact, cause a toxicity to cats. All in-contact animals must be treated with good quality products to address the fleas. 

Desexing

The stray cat population is one of the most serious results of irresponsible pet ownership. A failure of people to neuter their cats has resulted in thousands of cats being destroyed every year which is not only an awful waste of life but causes unnecessary distress to those vets and shelter workers involved. 

Desexing should be performed when your cat is between five and six months of age. Castration will decrease the odour of your male cat’s urine, decrease the likelihood of urine spraying, fighting and wandering. Spaying female cats prevents the unusual and often irritating behaviour of oestrus, pregnancy and they development of breast cancer in older cats. 

To book your cat in for desexing contact Quirindi Veterinary Clinic.

Grooming

Cats are very capable of keeping their coats clean and, thus, do not need bathing. Short haired cats can be intermittently brushed particularly when moulting; however, long haired cats must be brushed daily. It is important to introduce brushing to your kitten at an early age so they learn to enjoy and accept the process.

Dental Care

A large number of pet cats develop dental disease due to the accumulation of bacteria and calculus on their teeth. This is likely to occur in domestic cats because their diet has moved away from the consumption of whole carcasses which occurs in the wild. Feeding of raw bones such as chicken wings can assist this, as can feeding of special dental biscuits such as Hill’s Prescription t/d biscuits.

To book your cat in for a dental check-up contact Quirindi Veterinary Clinic.

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