Caring for A Kitten

Congratulations on your new furry family member! Whether this is your first kitten or you’ve done this before, caring for a kitten includes helping your pet adjust to family life and establishing a foundation of care for a long and healthy life.

CARING FOR A KITTEN: VACCINATIONS

Vaccinations protect your pets from serious infections and diseases as well as promote wellness throughout the pet community by avoiding dangerous outbreaks. Essential vaccines cover the most prevalent and highly-infectious conditions.

Essential Vaccines

  • FVRCP – This is a series of vaccinations, administered on a schedule according to the age of your kitten and includes the following vaccines:
    • Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (Feline Herpesvirus) – upper respiratory disease in cats
    • Feline Calicivirus – major cause of upper respiratory infections, especially combined with the feline viral rhinotracheitis
    • Feline Panleukopenia – highly-infectious virus which destroys white blood cells in bone marrow, lymph tissue, intestines and the brain
  • Rabies – acute viral disease of the nervous system transmitted by the bite of an infected animal
  • Feline Leukemia Virus – retrovirus can cause many disease symptoms and malignant tumors and weakens the immune system

Talk to your veterinarian about which vaccinations are right for your pet, when they should be given, and why quality vaccinations make a difference in protection.

CARING FOR A KITTEN: NUTRITION, EXERCISE, ETC.

Nutrition is an important component for the healthy development and overall wellness during the cat’s life. Good nutrition and exercise are essential. Obesity can result in medical conditions like diabetes and kidney disease which can shorten the lifespan of your cat.

Choose a high-quality food formulated for kittens to promote healthy growth and development. Ask your veterinarian about the brand and type of food recommended for your kitten/cat. Nutritional needs change during your pet’s life due to growth and development, the aging process, and management of various medical conditions.

“There is an obesity crisis in adult pets, with excessive calorie intake being one facet of problem. Proper nutrition and annual exams are vital in preventing obesity and managing medical conditions. Food quality and nutrient content influence weight gain. Some pet foods are loaded with cheaper carbohydrates. Lower quality carbs are no better for our pets than they are for us. This is why consideration of proper nutrition and offering quality foods to your pet, as early as possible, is important,” said Dr. Laura Weis.

Cats love climbing. Provide a variety of climbing and scratching posts, small toys like a ball with a bell or catnip-filled mouse. A window perch or outdoor enclosure is great for bird watching and bug chasing.

Potty Time: Place a litter box in a confined area and introduce your kitten to the box. As training is consistently successful and your cat is given the freedom to roam, place the litter box in a permanent space that is easily accessible. Cats are notoriously neat, so clean the litter box daily. Keep the box away from household traffic and any potentially scary noises or other pets or people.

CARING FOR A KITTEN: SPAY/NEUTER

Spaying or neutering your pet can be the difference between life and death. Spaying or neutering is a simple, low-cost procedure that can improve the health and longevity of your pet and decrease the overall cost of care. It also prevents overpopulation of stray/unwanted animals in a community.

Ask the veterinarian about microchipping your pet during the spay/neuter procedure.

CARING FOR A KITTEN/CAT: Make Your Bad Kitty a Good Cat!

Cats can be trained! Cats are smart animals, but they don’t respond to the same training strategies as dogs. Behavior modification strategies work much better for stopping unwanted behaviors like jumping on counters and dining tables or clawing at furniture. And believe it or not, cats can be taught to walk on a leash, obey basic commands and perform tricks.

  •  Water/mist spray bottle training is not recommended because your cat might consider it a game which will reinforce the unwanted behavior, or frighten your cat resulting in aggressive behavior.
  • The discomfort when encountering double-sided tape on counters and furniture can discourage jumping or clawing furniture—and it works when you are not around.
  • Associating behaviors with verbal cues and noises, like using a clicker, along with a reward is effective.
  • Ultimately, praise, redirection, food rewards and focused playtime are the best training methods for cats—be patient and consistent.

If you’re looking for more information about training your cat, Dr. Weis suggests Cat Fancy’s Naughty No More: Change Unwanted Behavior through Positive Reinforcement by Marilyn Krieger, a certified cat behavior consultant. This book is a beginner’s guide with easy steps for training your cat using the clicker method and other positive techniques.

CARING FOR A KITTEN/CAT: A Lifetime of Wellness

Yes, cats are independent. And you may wonder if your cat is an indoor cat, why bother with wellness visits, especially if Miss Kitty makes it challenging to go for a car ride? But cats need preventive veterinary care too. Vet visits should not end after the initial kitten care. Cats are really good at hiding illness, so annual wellness visits are important in catching a potential problem early.

Here are some tips for bringing your cat to Doylestown Veterinary Hospital & Holistic Pet Care:

  • Start training your kitten at an early age (Congratulations, you’ve successfully started this step by providing your kitten with initial care!)
  • Acclimate your kitten/cat to the carrier and the vehicle
  • Make the carrier familiar at home by leaving it in a room where your cat spends time
  • Place familiar soft towels or bedding in the carrier
  • Consider a synthetic feline facial pheromone—ask the staff at Doylestown Veterinary Hospital & Holistic Pet Care about Feliway to help your cat travel easier
  • Be patient and know that giving your kitten/cat the proper care now and regularly throughout its adult years will give you many healthy years together.