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Raising Your Kitten

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Raising Your Kitten
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Congratulations on your new furry friend!

What you need to know to keep them healthy and happy!

HEAL Veterinary Hospital is your partner in helping your kitten get started on the right paw! These early months of life are important in determining the health, behavior and well-being of the adult cat your kitten will become.

The Basics

PET INSURANCE

Now is the time to sign your cat up for pet health insurance! This coverage is significantly less expensive if you obtain it early in your kitten’s life and will help cover many major veterinary expenses that occur when she’s older.

REGULAR EXAMS

Starting at 8 weeks of age, we’ll check for congenital issues, soundness of body and signs of infectious issues. Please bring a fresh (within 24 hours) fecal sample in a labeled and sealed plastic bag so we can screen for internal parasites. We’ll also do the first round of deworming.

VACCINATING YOUR KITTEN

Vaccines are an important part of your kitten’s overall health. They protect your pet and others against infectious diseases.

FVRCP: Kittens should receive their first FVRCP (feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopeniavaccines at 8 weeks of age, then every 21 to 28 days until they’re 16 weeks of age. Booster shot again at 1 year after last kitten vaccine.

Feline Leukemia (FeLV): All kittens should receive this vaccine starting at 12 weeks of age after a FeLV/FIV test; 2 boosters are given at 21- to 28- day intervals. Booster shot again at 1 year of age.

To help ensure the best possible immunity to these diseases, it is important that your kitten receive vaccine boosters within the recommended 3-4 weeks. If the vaccine is not bolstered within the recommended time, we may need to restart the vaccine series.

Rabies: First rabies vaccine is given at or after 12 weeks of age

MICROCHIPPING

This small transmitter is your pet’s ticket home if she becomes lost. Insertion usually causes very little pain; however, many pet parents opt to have this done while their pet is anesthetized for spay/neuter surgery.

While cats have a phenomenal ability for find their way home, that navigation instinct doesn’t kick in until they are at least six months old. In fact, it’s better to leash train your kitten or try building a catio so she stays safe from outside predators and traffic.

SPAY/NEUTER

Spaying or neutering your cat has health benefits, in addition to helping with pet overpopulation. Spaying your female kitten before her first heat offers the best protection from uterine infections and breast tumors. Most female cats will go into heat by 6 months of age, so it’s a good idea to spay them at around 5 months. Neutering your male pet at approximately 6 months helps prevent testicular cancer and certain prostate problems.


Nutrition & Hygiene

WHAT TO FEED YOUR KITTEN 

Choose a food formulated specifically for kittens, and make sure to offer canned food as well as kibble. Canned food provides more liquid, which helps tiny kittens stay hydrated. Plus, if a kitten isn’t introduced to a variety of foods when she is young, she may become a picky eater when she is an adult. 

Your baby needs lots of calories to grow strong, so offer plenty of food. You may want to free-feed kibble and supplement it with small amounts of canned food in the morning and evening. Throw away any dried-out food left in the bowl at the end of the day, and always provide plenty of fresh water. Remember that cats are obligate carnivores–they depend entirely on meat because their diet requires nutrients that are only found in animal flesh. 

The diet you select for your kitten should help her grow healthy and strong—another reason for regular health exams that include weight measurement. We’d be happy to help you select the most appropriate diet for your growing kitten.

BATHS AND TOOTH BRUSHING

Kittens are good at keeping themselves clean, but if a bath is necessary, you can bathe a kitten that is at least 8 weeks of age. Use only kitten shampoo and never allow any water or shampoo to get inside your little one’s mouth, ears or eyes. Dry her with a soft fluffy towel and stay with her in a nice warm room until she is totally dry. 

Brushing your kitten’s teeth helps to keep them healthy and plaque free. Providing home dental care early can help delay the need for a cleaning and protect your kitten’s teeth while getting her used to having her mouth handled.

LITTER BOXES 

Cats are naturally clean animals, and most kittens take to litter boxes quickly. 

  • Put the litter box in a quiet, low traffic area. Make sure it’s easy for your kitten to find, so she doesn’t get frustrated and have an accident. 
  • Use an uncovered litter box with unscented litter. 
  • Put out one litter box per cat, plus one extra litter box for plenty of options for your kitten.
  • Don’t put the litter box near food and water bowls. 
  • Clean it every day—her nose is much more sensitive than yours is, and she won’t use a stinky box! 

Set her up for success now, so she won’t get in the habit of finding inappropriate places to relieve herself!


Comfort & Safety

SOCIALIZATION

Take things slowly with introducing new people and new animals. Make sure she has a safe place she can go to if she gets overwhelmed—this can be her carrier or the room where her food, water and bed are. Don’t force her to interact with a new person if she doesn’t want to. It’s important to keep early experiences positive!

KEEP PLAYTIME SAFE

Kittens have a lot of energy and very sharp teeth! Try these tips to keep everyone safe during playtime.

  • Don’t use your hands or feet as toys during play—always use toys or wands with something like feathers that they can chase.
  • If your kitten tries to play with your hands, fold your arms and look away. Wait a few minutes before giving her any more attention. Try this for your feet, too.
  • Keep play interesting by switching out the kinds of toys you use.
  • Always allow the kitten to “catch” the toy a few times so she won’t get frustrated. 
  • Small balls with bells make great kitten toys. Put one in a clean bathtub with her and let her chase the ball around and around.

STRESS-FREE CARRIERS

If you can get your kitten used to being in a carrier, vet visits and travel will be much easier for you both. 

  • Set the carrier up somewhere your kitten likes to be. Make sure there’s some comfy bedding inside.
  • Keep the carrier out all the time if possible; if not, make sure it’s out a few days before a visit to the vet.
  • Prop the door open and entice your kitten into the carrier with a treat or her food bowl at least once a day. 
  • Try getting your kitten to run in and out of the carrier during play time.

PARASITE PREVENTION

At 11-13 weeks, your kitten will need a second round of deworming. Flea, tick and heartworm prevention can begin at this age as well. Remember, prevention is the best defense against these nasty parasites. We recommend Revolution monthly topical to prevent heartworms, fleas and ticks in cats, but never use parasite preventative not approved specifically for kittens.

Cats can get heartworm after being bitten by a single infected mosquito, and as little as 2-3 heartworms can kill cats. For more information, visit the American Heartworm Society, which has guidelines and information for detection, treatment and prevention of heartworms.  


Health Calendar

Approximate Age
8 weeks· 1st FVRCP vaccine, booster vaccine in 3-4 weeks
· Feline Leukemia and FIV testing, if not already done
· Routine deworming
12 weeks· 2nd FVRCP vaccine, booster vaccine in 3-4 weeks
· 1st Feline Leukemia vaccine. Booster vaccine in 3-4 weeks (Depending on exposure risk)
16 weeks· 3rd FVRCP vaccine, booster vaccine in 1 year
· 2nd Feline Leukemia vaccine, booster vaccine in 1 year (Depending on exposure risk)
· Rabies vaccine, booster vaccine in 1 year
4 – 6 months· Spay or neuter procedure