Our advice for caring for your new kitten
Congratulations on your new arrival! We hope that you and your new pet will have many healthy years of fun ahead of you. Here are some tips to help you both get started.
Don't forget the two main areas of kitten socialisation.
A vaccination regime can start from 9 weeks of age and end from 12 weeks. During this time it is very important that they remain in a disease free environment. Once the initial vaccination course is complete, your cat should visit us yearly to have a booster vaccination and health check which will ensure that your pet remains protected against the most common viral causes of disease.
For indoor cats we recommend the cat flu vaccine which protects against Feline Calicivirus, Feline Herpesvirus type 1 and Feline Panleucopaenia virus. If your cat is going to be outdoors regularly then we would advise additionally vaccinating him/her against Feline Leukaemia Virus. All of the above can be administered as one injection.
Parasitic worms can be harmful to animals and may also pose a serious health risk to people.
Almost all kittens have roundworms present from about 2 weeks of age which can cause lethargy, bloating, diarrhoea and weight loss. Possible disease effects in humans include blindness and epilepsy, although this is rare. Children are most vulnerable.
We advise worming your new kitten every 2 weeks until they are 12 weeks of age, then monthly until 6 months of age.
Worms may also infect adult cats. Digging in your garden and during hunting trips, roundworms, tapeworms (transmitted by fleas), whipworm and hookworm may all cause problems.
We recommend using a broad spectrum wormer every 3-4 months throughout your pets’ adult life in order to reduce their worm burden. If your cat is a successful hunter then monthly worming is recommended.
Fleas are tiny wingless insects which feed on blood from your pet. Their bite is very irritating to pets and may also allow the transmission of tapeworms. Adult fleas on your pet represent only 5% of the total flea population. The other 95% consists of the immature stages of the flea life cycle which infest your pets’ environment bedding, carpets, furniture, car seats etc. They are most active in warm temperatures summer months and houses with central heating.
Regular vacuuming and washing your pet’s bedding can help, but as the larvae are mobile and tend to move away from light, remember to vacuum everywhere.
We advise using a regular “spot-on” treatment on the back of your pets’ neck. This provides continuous protection for your pet from fleas and kills the adult flea within 24-48hrs of feeding from your pet.
Remember that cat and dog fleas can jump from one species to the other so all furry household members should be treated!
Microchipping is a means of permanently identifying your pet. A small electronic chip is implanted behind your pets’ neck via injection. This chip has a barcoded number unique to your pet and allows him/her to be identified if lost or stolen. This can be done at any stage from 6 weeks of age. Neutering is a good opportunity to have your pet microchipped without him/her realising!
Deciding what to feed your new kitten can be a mind-boggling experience! Find out what your new arrival has been eating previously even if you don’t expect to stick with that food it is a good idea to continue feeding some of the old food as you gradually introduce the new one. This should help to ease any stress-induced upset tummies in the first few days.
In general, dry food is healthier for your kitten. Some advantages of this include the need to feed less (meaning less to clear up later!!) and assistance with dental hygiene (crunching action helps clean teeth).
Dry food is usually more economical than canned food and tends to have a more pleasant odour. Hills, Royal Canin and Burns are all brands which we have had success with. Whatever food you choose, remember to feed according to the guidelines on the pack as it is very easy to give your hungry kitten a little too much!
Neutering is the term used for the surgical removal of the male or female reproductive organs.
Females are generally neutered (spayed) at approximately 5 months of age, which is around the time they will have their first season. In addition to preventing pregnancy, spaying greatly reduces the incidence of malignant mammary tumours and prevents womb infections along with ovarian cancer.
Males are neutered (castrated) also from 5 months of age. Neutering male cats prevents testicular cancer, reduces territorial marking and aggression and reduces wandering behaviour. It also means your cat is a lot less likely to contract Feline Immunodeficiency Virus ( Feline Aids) and Feline Leukaemia Virus.
Socialisation is vital to your pet in order to prepare him/her for their new life with you. Washing machines, vacuum cleaners, bicycles, buggies and traffic noises and present a daunting experience for your kitten, so it is important to slowly but regularly introduce them to as many different situations as possible.
Introductions to other animals and people, other than those already in your home are also critical so that he/she learns how to interact with different people and pets.
Your new kitten likely has brilliant white sharp teeth! These are their baby teeth and will gradually fall out and be replaced by larger, permanent adult teeth during their first year.
Just like us, cats’ teeth accumulate a build up of soft plaque which hardens to form tartar over time. Plaque and tartar harbour bacteria which can cause bad breath, gum disease and may even cause permanent teeth to become painful and fall out. With our pets now living longer lives, dental care is becoming an ever more important part of your pets’ healthcare.
We can remove plaque and tartar and extract teeth where necessary under general anaesthetic, however anaesthetics always carry a risk and prevention is better than cure. Now is a good time to get your kitten used to having their teeth brushed. You can use a childrens soft toothbrush and water, brushing the outside of the teeth only daily. Dental chews and dry food are helpful but do not clean below the gum line where most pet dental problems occur.
Pet insurance is an insurance policy which would pay out in the event your pet is sick or injured. Just like any insurance policy there will be an excess to pay per condition per year. There are lots of cover options and you should shop around for the best value but do take care to read the small print. “Cover for life” is important as this ensures the policy will refresh every year and still cover any problems your pet may have.
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