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(07) 5441 3333
18 Lamington Tce Nambour

Caring For Your New Kitten

CONGRATULATIONS on becoming the proud owner of your new kitten!!

Owning a kitten (or as we like to think, being owned by a cat!) is an extremely rewarding experience. New kittens provide hours of entertainment, give endless love to their owners, get up to lots of mischief, and require a lot of responsible care.

These notes will give you the information you need to make some good decisions for your kitten’s health and the following pages outline specific areas of health care, including Vaccination Protocols, Nutrition, Dental Care, Skin Care, Parasite Control and Basic Training (yes training for cats).

Remember that a pet is for life so setting some early ground rules and learning how to provide the best care for your pet will ensure that he or she has a long happy healthy life.

If you are unsure of anything, or have further questions, please ask the vets or nurses at the clinic.

THE FIRST FEW DAYS & NIGHTS IN A NEW HOME

Being taken away from their mum and siblings, going for a car ride, being introduced to a brand new environment and lots of new people, maybe having different food offered, is all potentially very stressful for a young kitten.

In order to minimize this and to make introduction to the new home easy, it is a good idea to be well prepared and to set some ground rules early.

Firstly, when you collect your new kitten from the breeder or pet shop ask them what type of food the kitten has been eating, whether it has been wormed and vaccinated and if so, what with and when.

Have a sleeping area prepared. Decide where you want the kitten to feel most at home and create a warm, soft and welcoming environment for your kitten to spend its first few days at home. Always remember that having full run of a house is a daunting and sometimes scary experience for a young kitten that most likely hasn’t experienced that much space before.

Many kittens will cry at night when they first come into their new home. Be aware that when you get up to them in the middle of the night and pick them up or play with them, you are reinforcing this behaviour. Make sure that wherever you choose as a sleeping place is warm, dry and sheltered as your kitten is used to sleeping with its Mum and siblings.

NUTRITION

Nutrition is such an important topic and so very important to get right from an early age. Many other health issues are influenced by diet and many health problems can be avoided by a good quality, correctly fed diet. Some cats can have a tendency to be very fussy so starting off correctly as a young kitten will avoid frustration later on.

A good quality diet is extremely important during the growing months of a kitten’s life. Cats are carnivores (whereas dogs are omnivores) and many supermarket brand cat foods are cereal based rather than meat based.

Nutrition is such an important topic and so very important to get right from an early age. Many other health issues are influenced by diet and many health problems can be avoided by a good quality, correctly fed diet. Some cats can have a tendency to be very fussy so starting off correctly as a young kitten will avoid frustration later on.

A good quality diet is extremely important during the growing months of a kitten’s life. Cats are carnivores (whereas dogs are omnivores) and many supermarket brand cat foods are cereal based rather than meat based.

There are many feeding regimes proposed to be the best. The general rule is this:
Feed suitable amounts of a fresh, high quality, BALANCED diet with ample fresh clean water. Commercial diets range from Home Brand supermarket varieties to more reliable named Supermarket brands to pre-packed meat style logs and vacuum packed meats to Super Premium varieties. Most home formulated diets consisting of meat, vegetables, table scraps etc. are not sufficiently well balanced to meet the needs of a growing kitten and can sometimes be dangerously low in minerals like calcium which are important for normal bone growth and development. Be very wary of vacuum packed cat meats which often contain preservatives and additives that may be harmful to the kitten.

Many people advise feeding cereal and milk as a morning meal. This is quite filling, but does not provide very many nutrients and sometimes milk can cause diarrhoea therefore it is better to replace this with dry kitten biscuits soaked in a little warm water to soften them.

For ease of use and convenience for you, the owner, and to ensure the diet is complete and balanced, we recommend the use of a premium brand dry and canned foods. These premium diets provide all the required vitamins and minerals and the correct level of protein for growth. The overall general health and the condition of the teeth, skin and coat and intestinal tract always seems to be far superior in kittens and adult cats that are fed these diets from a young age. Premium foods are also highly digestible so the added bonus of these highly nutritious diets is less litter tray cleaning to be done!!

Ask us which diet would best suit your kitten.

Should you feed your kitten milk?
Once a kitten is weaned from mum there is no nutritional need for milk and in fact it sometimes causes gastrointestinal upsets. Once weaned we recommend that you supply your kitten with plenty of fresh clean water and avoid adding any milk into their diet.

How often should you feed your kitten?
Whilst your kitten is quite young (6 – 12 weeks of age) it is best to feed three times daily until your kitten reaches about 3 months of age and then reduce this to twice daily.

It is a good idea to regularly monitor your kitten’s body weight and condition throughout their growth as adjustments to the amount of food they eat will need to be made as they grow. This can be done for you by our nurses and they can show you what to watch out for with your kitten’s weight and condition so you can assess them at home as well. You can bring your kitten or adult cat in at any time, free of charge, to our clinic to be weighed and have their body condition checked.

Intestinal Worms

All kittens should be wormed for intestinal worms (roundworm, hookworm, whipworm and tapeworm) from 2 weeks of age. They should be wormed fortnightly until 3 months of age then monthly till 6 months of age and then every 3 months thereafter for life. In high risk areas, kittens can be wormed weekly till 6 weeks of age then follow the schedule below.

As some cats and kitten can be difficult to tablet, there are a number of varieties of intestinal worming products commercially available including tablets, worming pastes or top-spot applications to give your kitten the optimal protection.

WORMING PROGRAMME

0-6 weeks of age in high risk areas – Worm weekly with Milbemax Tablets.
2-12 weeks of age in low risk areas – Worm fortnightly with Milbemax Tablets.
12 weeks - 6 months – Worm monthly with Milbemax Tablets.
6 months on - Worm every 3 months with Milbemax Tablets.

Tapeworms are one of the most common intestinal parasites that affect cats and kittens.

There are two main types of tapeworm:

• Type 1 can infect cats and kittens when they swallow fleas as the larvae of the tapeworm live inside the flea.

• Type 2 can infect cats and kittens when they hunt and eat small lizards and geckos.

It can take as little as two weeks for your cat and kitten to become infested with tapeworm so always ensure the worming product you use contains effective worming against ALL of the intestinal worms.

If you are unsure whether the product you use cover all of these intestinal worms please contact us and check.<7p>

FLEAS

Fleas are an extremely common parasite of dogs and cats and cause anything from irritation and discomfort to severe allergic dermatitis and sometimes anaemia. They can also be responsible for transmitting tapeworm. Flea control needs to be considered in 2 categories:
1. On your cat and
2. In their Environment.

There are many different products available for flea control including powders, rinses, shampoos, oral tablets, topical spot-on’s etc. Be very careful that the product you choose is suitable for kittens under 4 months of age – many products aren’t and could result in disastrous toxic effects if used on very young kittens. Be aware that some products are only for dogs and can be fatal if given to a cat.

Flea collars & powders are generally not very effective methods of flea control. Similarly, shampoos and rinses may kill the fleas on the cat at the time of rinsing/shampooing, but provide little, if any, residual effect or protection which as a result, does not break the environmental flea life-cycle.

The product we recommend will depend on the age of your kitten and the type of environment they live in. Ask us which is best for your new kitten.

Be sure to treat all the animals in the household, dogs included or else the environmental cycle will be impossible to break!

For more information on how you can achieve good flea control, ask us for our information sheet on “How to Achieve Good Flea Control”.

TICKS

Ticks cause skin irritation, blood loss in severe infestations and sometimes allergic skin disease. In this area we also see the very dangerous paralysis tick, Ixodes holocyclus. Whilst the higher risk time is in the warmer months, we regularly see cases of tick paralysis in this area even in the winter so do not be complacent just because it is cooler weather.

Tick paralysis can be quickly fatal, especially for kittens. No control product guarantees 100% efficacy against paralysis ticks and Frontline Spray is the only registered tick control product for cats, however the Frontline Plus Spot On is routinely used. Regular searching for ticks on your kitten is essential and should be made part of your daily routine.

A simple procedure to effective tick searching on your new kitten is to start at the head and work your way down over their entire body, paying special attention to inside ears, between toes, in any skin folds, under collars.

We recommend the use of Frontline Spray every three weeks or Frontline Plus Topical Applications every fortnight. Check with our nurses for the age that your kitten can start on this product.

Tick Collars and Advantix Topical Applications that can be safely used on dogs are TOXIC to cats and should NEVER be used on cats or kittens.

VACCINATING YOUR KITTEN

All kittens need to be vaccinated against the three major contagious feline viral diseases
1. Feline Calicivirus
2. Feline Herpes Virus
3. Feline Enteritis

When your kitten is due for a vaccination, they will be given a full physical health check by the veterinarian to ensure their health. This is a good opportunity to ask any questions you may have regarding your kitten’s health, training, feeding or general care. In order to be effective, a series of three initial vaccinations is given four weeks apart. Ideally, they are given at 6 to 8 weeks, 10 to 12 weeks and 14 to 16 weeks of age, but this schedule may vary depending on your kitten’s individual needs.

Be aware that kitten is not fully protected by the vaccine until approximately 10 days after the final booster is given.

Once your kitten has completed the initial course of vaccines, a regular schedule can be formed for life. Cats still require annual boosters in order for these vaccinations to remain effective. Your cat’s level of risk needs to be established before deciding on a vaccination regime for them during their adult years.

All reputable boarding kennels and catteries will not allow your cat to board with them unless they are fully vaccinated against the three core Feline Infectious Diseases (Feline Calicivirus, Feline Herpes Virus (both cause Cat Flu) and Feline Enteritis.)

As one year of a cat’s life is equivalent to about 6 human years of ageing, a yearly health check is very important to make sure everything is okay. A lot can change with their health in 6 years! A 7 year old cat is essentially the equivalent of a 42 year old human! This is why a yearly health check is really important – hopefully to get the “all clear” but if there is a problem, we can pick it up early and early detection usually means we can fix or manage the problem as effectively as possible.

Our clinic will individually assess each kitten’s risk situation to determine what vaccinations are required and how often they should be boosted.

Additional vaccinations may be necessary for your kitten depending on their individual situation such as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (also known as Feline Aids), Feline Chlamydia & Feline Leukaemia Virus.

DESEXING YOUR KITTEN

Both males and females should be desexed from 4-5 months of age. The major advantage to desexing is the reduction in unwanted kittens ending up dumped in animal refuges or being euthanased each year.

Female kittens usually have their first “season” between 4 and 6 months of age and will cycle on and off continuously until mated. During this time the female cat will become very vocal and restless and will attract male cats from far and wide! Desexing a female cat prior to her first season significantly reduces the risk of her developing mammary cancer at a later age, and completely eliminates the risk of unwanted kittens being conceived. Desexing the female involves a full General Anaesthetic and abdominal surgery to remove the ovaries and uterus.

For males, desexing eliminates the risk of developing testicular cancers, greatly reduces the risk of the cat developing prostate cancer and benign enlargement of the prostate gland, reduces wandering and other territorial behaviours like urine marking and fighting etc. The procedure for males also involves a full General Anaesthetic. Two small incisions are made over the surface of the scrotal sack and the testes are removed.

Both male and female cats will spend the full day in our hospital. If performed at around 5 months of age, it is less expensive and recovery seems to be much faster.

Desexing Myths:
1. “If I desex my cat, it’s personality will change”
The only aspect of behaviour that is likely to change following desexing is a reduction in aggression and dominance related behaviours.
2. “My cat will get fat if I desex it”
We hear this time and time again and it is simply not true. The only reason your cat will get fat is if you feed it too much and/or exercise it too little! We will help you monitor your pet’s body condition and regulate the amount to feed.
3. “It will take away his “manliness”!
Hmmm, mostly a comment from the male owner!!! Remember that responsible pet ownership requires having a well behaved, well cared for cat that doesn’t desire to wander the neighbourhood creating unwanted kittens that end up in shelters or worse, dumped or on death row.

TOYS AND BEHAVIOUR

It is important to provide stimulating play for your kitten, especially during the first week in their new home. Kittens are extremely curious and you will need to be very careful about picking up all small objects such as string, hair ties and bobby pins, twist-ties and plastic etc. If swallowed, these can cause life threatening damage to your kitten’s stomach and intestine. Toys should be sturdy enough so that they cannot be broken or swallowed. Our staff can advise you in choosing the safest toys for your kitten.

LITTER BOXES AND TOILET TRAINING

The choice of litter type for your new kitten can be a daunting one! There are so many varieties available:
• Sand
• Clay
• Clumping and Non-Clumping
• Recycled Paper
• Crystals
• Soil
And the list goes on……

Some helpful questions to ask the breeder/pet shop prior to bringing your new kitten home to help you get it right first time and avoid any accidents are:
1. What type of litter has my kitten been used to using up to now?
2. What shape and size litter tray has my kitten been used to using up to now?

There are also lots of choices for litter trays or boxes. Be sure that the sides of the chosen box are not too tall for your kitten to access them and one sign that this might be the case is if your kitten is soiling just outside the box, often in spilled litter. Some litter boxes come with one side that is lower than the others which can be a good choice for a kitten. Then there are the cats that prefer a fully enclosed litter box. The possibilities are so varied that it is a good idea to have more than one option available for your kitten and let them decide.

Just remember it’s your kitten’s opinion that counts most - if they don’t like it, they won’t use it!

IDENTIFICATION

We are frequently presented with a “lost” cat which we are asked if we recognize. How easy it would be if every cat had some form of permanent identification which could easily and reliably trace to its owner. Microchipping is the answer!

Microchipping is now mandatory (state law) for all kittens by the age of 12 weeks. This involves implanting a small microchip (about the size of a grain of rice) under the skin between the kitten’s shoulder blades. When read with a special scanner, a unique number is seen which is linked to an Australia wide computer data base. All of your contact details are on the data base. As a result, if your cat goes missing anywhere in Australia, you can be found via the microchip details.

A collar and identification tag is also a good idea. We stock Bow Wow tags and PawPrint tags which are engraved with your cat’s name and your contact details.

Remember, most cats that end up on “death row” at the pound have no form of identification that can reunite them with their owners.

COUNCIL REGISTRATION

All cats must be registered every year and wear a council-issued registration tag. This assists council to reunite cats with the owners should they become separated. Kittens should be registered at 3 months of age or within 14 days of acquiring a new cat. Registration is free for kittens under 6 months of age. Discounted fees apply to desexed and microchipped cats. For more information go to www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au and look for “Animal Regulations” under the “Laws & Permits” tab

PET INSURANCE

We highly recommend pet health insurance for your kitten. These days the advances in technology for pet health care is amazing and in many cases equivalent to that of human medicine. Good quality veterinary care is expensive and the advances we are seeing in diagnostic technologies for pet’s means that the cost of pet health care is increasing.

There are many excellent insurance plans to cover the costs associated with accidents and illnesses with your pet and having pet health insurance means that the most that you will pay for any accident or illness is generally the policy’s excess which in a lot of cases is around $100.

The earlier you take out pet insurance the better as any pre-existing illnesses your pet suffers prior to becoming insured will not be covered.

CATS AND WILDLIFE

Cats have different personalities as different as you or I. Some cats are born hunters while others prefer a day lazing around at home and chilling out on the couch!

Cats allowed to roam outside (particularly at night) are responsible for approximately 33% of the deaths in our native wildlife populations each year.

Many of these species are fast becoming extinct and it is important that your cat does not contribute to destruction of wildlife. We recommend desexing, keeping your cat indoors (especially at night) or having an outdoor cat enclosure and using bells on their collars.

SUMMARY

All of our qualified staff at Lamington Terrace Veterinary Surgery are here to help with any questions or queries you have about your new kitten.

You can also find us on Facebook by searching for Lamington Terrace Veterinary Surgery.

Thank you for trusting us to help care for your new four-legged family member!