Kittens make wonderful companions and a new kitten is a source of pleasure and joy. Here are a few tips for the care of your kitten.

Feeding

Try to find out what the kitten was being fed before you got him and start him on a similar diet for the first few days while he is settling in.

Any time you change your kitten’s diet do it gradually, as sudden changes can cause stomach upsets or diarrhoea.

The kitten’s diet should be based on a good quality commercial kitten food because they are balanced and contain all the vitamins and nutrients that your kitten needs. Check that the food your kitten is eating is labeled”balanced” or “complete.” The kitten may become fussy if fed only on a particular brand or flavour, so alternate their food regularly. If you base his diet on the commercial kitten foods, you can add other types of food to give him variety.

Always provide fresh, clean drinking water.

Kittens do not need milk, and milk will often cause diarrhoea.  Most cats are actually mildly lactose intolerant.

Kittens aged six to twelve weeks should be fed four times a day. As a rough guide they should be allowed to eat as much as they feel inclined to at each meal. From twelve to sixteen weeks they should be fed three times a day and then twice a day from 16 weeks onwards.

Life Plan

Life Plan is a program designed to tailor your pet’s yearly health check ups and vaccinations to their age and breed. Pets, like us, have a higher likelihood of certain illnesses at different ages. As your pet becomes older we will concentrate on different health issues with a strong emphasis on preventative health care.

When your pet is due for a health check, a reminder letter will be sent in the mail. This letter will contain a series of questions that may help us detect both behavioural and medical problems early. This will help us institute preventative health care programs before these conditions become severe. Certain tests, such as blood or urine tests, will be recommended for specific age groups. Please bring the reminder, previous vaccination certificate and health check up reports when you come in (if you can find them).

With kittens we focus on preventative health issues such as parasite control and behavioural issues and toilet training.

As your pet gets older, we will ask you to bring in urine samples and may recommend blood tests or other tests, to determine if problems are starting to develop.

What are the benefits of Life Plan?

Questions on your pet’s behaviour and the utilisation of specific tests will allow us to recognise any health problems much earlier. The early recognition of problems will ensure that your pet’s health is optimised.

The major benefits of Life Plan include maximising the information that we can gain at each annual health check and minimising the impact of illnesses in your pet through early detection and implementation of preventative health strategies.

Our aim is “Healthier Pets for Life!”

Vaccinations

Vaccinations protect your cat against diseases that otherwise cause serious illness or death. We recommend three vaccinations, each one month apart, starting from the age of 6 weeks.

The diseases we vaccinate for are:

Feline Enteritis: This disease can cause severe fever, depression, loss of appetite, rapid and severe weight loss, dehydration, vomiting or diarrhoea.

Feline Respiratory Disease (“Cat Flu”): This disease affects cats of all ages but young kittens are the most severely affected. The signs of Cat Flu include sneezing, discharges from the nose and eyes, ulcers on the tongue and in the mouth and coughing.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (“FIV”): This disease affects the cat’s immune system and can result in Feline AIDS. A course of vaccinations can protect many cats. 3 vaccinations are needed.

To keep your cat protected from these diseases regular booster vaccinations are required. The frequency of the booster vaccinations depend on the vaccines used as well as you and your cat’s needs and circumstances.

Intestinal Worms

Roundworm is the major problem worm in young kittens. Kittens should be wormed against roundworm at two weeks of age and then every two weeks until 12 weeks of age. Then they are wormed monthly until 6 months of age.

Cats over six months need to be wormed four times a year. Use an “all wormer” preparation such as such as Milbemax or Profender. These “all wormers” treat for roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms. When purchasing worm medications read the label carefully as many do not treat for tapeworms.

Revolution and Advocate (monthly “spot on” preparations) are also available to cover most worms (except tapeworm).

Please ask us which worm preparation is most suited to your kitten. It is important to dose correctly for weight.

Toilet Training

• Avoid Noxious Treatment: Scolding, hitting or rubbing the cat’s nose in its urine or faeces after it has eliminated in an undesirable location is notoriously ineffective at house-training. Often it makes matters worse because the cat becomes more anxious.

• Reward Elimination in the Correct Place: Take the cat to the area you want it to go (either place him in the litter tray or in the garden if he is to be an outside cat). When you see the cat eliminating in the correct place wait until he has finished and then praise him. Place the litter tray in an area where your cat is least likely to be disturbed and keep the litter fresh.

Car Travel

Get your kitten used to the car when he is small. Take him on short rides initially with someone else to soothe the kitten while you are driving.

We recommend that all cats be restrained in a cat carrier or basket for safety reasons.

No food should be given to the kitten for about two hours before the trip.

Spending some time making the car a “happy place to be” by feeding the kitten in the stationary car and playing with him in the car can help reduce anxiety. Once the kitten is happy and relaxed eating and playing in the stationary car then progress to going on very short trips that end with some pleasurable experience.

During the trip remember only to praise him when he is bright and happy. If you pat and cuddle him when he is nervous it will encourage the nervous behaviour.

Teeth

Kittens get their baby teeth (deciduous teeth) between two and eight weeks of age. From two to six months of age they shed their deciduous teeth and their permanent teeth erupt. They have all their permanent teeth by seven to eight months of age.

As cats get older they often get severe dental problems, such as gum infections and rotten teeth. The best way to prevent this is to brush the cat’s teeth.

Feeding raw bones from an early age can help to discourage dental plaque from building up. Cats have evolved to eat bones and hard substances, but with anything hard that enters the mouth, there is always a slight risk of it getting stuck or causing other problems.

In mature cats, special dry foods are available that help with preventing dental plaque formation

Important Points in Prevention of Dental Disease

• Feed food that will help the teeth to stay clean. Raw meat may be fed if it is given in one large piece that will force pets to use their teeth to chew. Cats without digestive system problems can also be fed raw chicken wings and necks to keep their teeth clean.

• Brush your pet’s teeth regularly. This is best done daily with special enzymatic cat toothpaste. DO NOT USE HUMAN TOOTH PASTES.

Flea Control

Life Cycle of the Flea

Fleas are small, brown or black wingless insects with flattened bodies. These blood-sucking insects cause considerable irritation and distress to infested pets. Severe infestation may lead to anaemia from blood loss. Fleas spread the common tapeworm in dogs and cats. Flea bites also cause skin disorders on both pets and people.

After taking a blood meal, fleas drop off the animal and deposit their eggs in cracks, crevices and carpeting. A single breeding pair of fleas may produce 20,000 fleas in three months. Eggs hatch after two to 12 days into larvae that feed in the environment. Larvae moult twice and then spin a cocoon for anywhere from a week to a year.

Most (95%) of the life cycle is spent away from the pet in the environment. This is why control of the flea in the environment is essential for proper flea control.

Control of Fleas

Most flea powders are suitable for young kittens and there are special kitten flea rinses, eg. Fido’s Free Itch Rinse Concentrate, and collars available. Please read the labels carefully to ensure that your product is safe to use in kittens.

Other products (which are highly recommended by our hospital are applied to the skin once a month to kill fleas. They are called Revolution & Advocate.

Always take great care before applying any insecticide to a young kitten. Many flea control products are unsuitable for animals under three months of age. Dog insecticides should not be used in cats unless the label specifically says so. Keep the insecticides away from children and always read the safety directions carefully before application.

Grooming

Kittens that have long hair or thick coats should begin being groomed as early as six to eight weeks of age. Long haired cats often need to be brushed daily.

Brushing kittens before you feed them will make them look forward to grooming sessions. It’s best to place the kitten on a chair or table and then brush from the top of the head to the tip of the tail, not forgetting the chest and face. Be gentle and don’t pull at knots or the kitten will learn to dislike grooming.

Long haired cats can develop hair balls if they ingest a lot of hair during their daily grooming. Please ask us about how to prevent hair balls in your pet if you have a long haired cat.

Nail clipping for your kitten is a quick and easy task that is often forgotten. When ignored, ingrown nails can occur which is extremely painful for your pet. Old cats and dogs that don’t wear down their nails by walking on hard surfaces appear to be most susceptible to overgrown nails.

• We offer nail clipping to all pets, from birds and rabbits to dogs and cats.

• Clipping can be done by a groomer while your pet is being pampered in our grooming parlour. Alternatively, you can make an appointment for a vet or nurse to clip the nails at a small fee. The final option is to give nail clipping a try yourself by purchasing a pair of nail clippers from our clinic.

Identification

State legislation requires your kitten to be microchipped before registration. A microchip is a permanent invisible identification that is achieved by just one small injection. In addition to this your kitten should always have some form of identification on.

The minimum required is a pet tag with his/her name on it and your telephone number.

Registration

Stonnington city council requires cats over three months of age to be registered. Registering before 6 months of age may entitle you to up to a year of free registration. It is cheaper to register desexed pets. In this area you can contact the Animal control officer of Stonnington Council on 82901333 for more information. All pets must now be microchipped to be registered.

Desexing

We recommend that cats be desexed at approximately six months of age. Female cats are spayed, which is the surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus (ovariohysterectomy). Male cats are neutered which is the surgical removal of both testicles (castration). These operations are done under a full general anaesthetic.

Pets that have been desexed use their food more efficiently, which means they only need to eat 90% of the food they ate before they were desexed. If you cut down the food a little and adopt a common-sense approach to feeding they will not become fat!

The Reasons we Recommend Desexing

Males

Females

Stops unwanted kittens. Stops unwanted kittens.
Less roaming, wandering and aggression. Fewer stray and unwanted pets.
Fewer stray and abandoned pets. No “seasons”, with problems of confinement.
Much less chance of urine spraying. Much less chance of breast cancer.
Less destruction of native birds and fauna. Eliminated womb infections.
No problems caused by pregnancy and birth.

Environmental Enrichment

It is important to make the home environment as interesting as possible for your kitten. Toys should be rotated regularly, so that they are exciting when they come out again. Treat balls or Kitty Kongs can be filled with food (or a meal) and will keep your cat occupied for hours. Cats will also find their own toys in anything from paper bags to bottle tops to christmas decorations

Scratching posts should be provided to focus your kittens’ attention on a specific area of the house, to avoid having your expensive lounge suite clawed and remodeled to your cats’ desire! Posts should be tall enough for you cat to stretch up on its’ hind legs and should have both a horizontal and a vertical scratching surface. Do not replace the scratching post when it gets ‘messy’ or your cat may turn its attention elsewhere.

Cats need grass to chew. Catnip and cat grass seeds can be purchased from your local pet shop (or our clinic).

Environmental enrichment will help to reduce the risk of destructive and nuisance behaviour.

Pet Insurance

A variety of pet insurances are available for your puppy. Insurance can help cover the cost of unexpected veterinary visits and provide the best possible care for your pet when the need arises. Refer to the different insurance companies and their policies to find out which suits you and your pet’s needs.

Other Issues or Problems

 

Staff at our hospital would be pleased to answer questions, even on small issues. Dealing with small problems as they occur will help you kitten have a great start in life. Owning a kitten is a very rewarding experience; we are here to help you enjoy it!

“Tips For Feline Fun” Seminar

 

Every 4-6 weeks or so (numbers permitting) our staff will be running a seminar on environmental enrichment for cats and prevention strategies for problem behaviours. We will also focus on how to train cats to do tricks for food rewards (yes it is possible!!).

If you are interested in attending one of these seminars, please contact the clinic as spaces are limited. Cost is $15.00 per person including GST and will include a light supper. We discuss ∙ normal behaviour in cats and how to interpret body language, ∙ alert you to the signs of common feline behavioural problems and how to correct them ∙ discuss social responsibility of owning a cat ∙ demonstrate handling and training techniques ∙ discuss environmental enrichment.. More information here.