Congratulations on taking home your new kitten !
Kittens are delightful creatures both intelligent and inquisitive. They adapt to their surroundings and are quite happy to be left on their own. This independence makes them popular pets and ideal for modern households. They are active, playful and comfortable with people. They do need plenty of sleep in the beginning and it is advisable to watch or visit your kitten a few times before taking them home. A normal kitten can quickly go from being playful to tired or hungry. When bringing home your new kitten it is important to establish the territories for them. At Northside we normally recommend keeping the kitten in the laundry or a smaller enclosed area not opening the whole house up to them as this may frighten them. Place their litter tray, food bowl, water dish and bedding next to one another so they know this is their spot. This area will become a safe area and will be a place to retreat to if frightened.
Understanding and Socializing your Kitten
It is important to enhance your kittens socialisation once they come to live with you. The first 2-3 months is an important age as this will help build solid foundations. Kittens that have received positive interaction from their owners will adapt quicker into a family lifestyle. Cats are unique animals with enhanced sense of hearing, smell, and touch they also have a strong desire to hunt which is almost innate, a behavior often learnt from their mother.
Feeding your Kitten
Food plays a vital role in our health and in that of our pets, happy healthy cats require a carefully balance meal starting from an early age. Cats are obligate carnivores which means they need to eat meat. They need a food high in protein as the amino acids in meat are essential for their overall health. Cats are unable to convert arginine and taurine naturally from other food sources, so they need to eat it directly. A deficiency within their diet would be detrimental to their health and can cause blindness or heart problems. Kittens tend to graze during the day, and prefer to eat small frequent meals. It is not uncommon for a young kitten to eat up to 10 times a day. Using a premium kitten food will ensure they are receiving the right nutrients, always have fresh drinking water readily available. The use of dry food is important with kittens as this will begin good dental habits. Wet food is also a viable option. Wet foods should be used as addition to dry, this will encourage the kitten to eat and will help keep their digestive system cleansed.
When you pick your kitten up for the first time it is most likely between the ages 7- 16weeks and they may not have completed all stages of vaccines. If they are not fully vaccinated care must be taken when socialising them. Keep them away from un-vaccinated animals, smells and outside areas, until they are fully vaccinated. The purpose of vaccinating your animal is to stimulate the body’s immune system. Cats will need annual boosters to ensure these antibodies are evident in their system.
Flea Treatments and Worming
Fleas are small wingless insects that live permanently on the skin feeding on the blood of their host. Most cats do not itch due to fleas alone. Once bitten many kittens become allegeric to the saliva produced by the fleas. This reaction causes the kitten to scratch continuously. It may cause a skin allergy in cats, which is called Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD). The main symptom of FAD is severe scratching, scabs, hair loss, and skin ulceration affecting the tail, rump, thighs and preianal area. The severity of FAD is not always determined by the number of fleas attached to the host, only a few bites are enough to trigger this allergy. There are many flea treatments that can be applied topically to any kitten or cat. These treatments should be administrated monthly.
Intestinal worms are evident in almost all young kittens. They may have been infected from their mothers before birth or obtained them from the environment. Intestinal worms can cause huge problems for young kittens if left un-treated, they may lead to growth disorders, anaemia, diarrhea and or vomiting. The most common worms that effect kittens are hookworm, tapeworm, roundworm. Kittens need to be wormed every 2 weeks until 12 weeks of age. After 12 weeks topical wormers can be given monthly or oral wormers every 3 months.
Cats are generally regarded as being rather clean creatures. Their mother normally trains them to use the litter tray from a young age. Being easier to house train often makes them more appealing pets to many owners. It is important for the kitten to be able to reach the litter tray at all times. The litter tray should be cleaned regularly and kept in a hygienic manner. Avoid moving the litter tray into different areas as this may create some confusion. It is also advisable for the litter tray to be in a quiet or more ‘private’ location away from children, dogs and other noises. Loud sounds can disrupt or even stress the kitten.
The Importance of Play
Play time is essential for all kittens. It nurtures their physical and mental well being. Play time is also a vital outlet for their natural hunting behavior. Cats and kittens should be offered a variety of toys, small movable toys that allow them to practice their eye, stalking and pouncing skills. There are many interactive toys that can be used, these toys are suitable for both the cat and their owner to play with. Being able to capture and pounce on toys are both stimulating and vital for their natural hunting skills. Toys on wands, poles or strings are suitable and nurture this ability. Cats that are unable to hunt imaginary toys can often result in showing predatory behavior towards moving objects within their environment. This may include striking at their owner’s hands, feet or ankles.
Scratching is Good Fun
Scratching is a natural behavior for all cats and kittens, it enables them to feel more secure in their territory and enables them to shed any loose claws. Providing a scratching post from any early age will help divert unwanted scratching or damage to your furniture. Make sure the scratching post is stable and will withstand a cat jumping on and off. When choosing what would be the most appropriate cat pole look for the more entertaining units. Cats love to hide and climb, any pole that has a cubby area or has a high top will be most welcomed.
Things to Consider
Feeding– Ensure each kitten is fed a premium food as it is an exact nutritional formula for them. Feed and adapt there feeding program as your kitten grows, making sure they are fed the correct life stage.
Dental care – Cats can suffer from dental problems at an earlier age than most dogs. Premium dry foods will encourage the kitten to crunch their biscuits, creating more of scrubbing action.
De-sexing – De-sexing your kitten usually occurs at 5-8 months of age. De-sexing is beneficial to the animal as it can eliminate potential diseases and reduces the animal from straying.
Vaccinations – Your kitten will requires 3 vaccines completing at 16 weeks of age. Annual boosters will be required.
What you will need
- Loose toys / wands
- Scratch Poles
- Flea treatment / Worming
- Food dry and wet
- Litter box
- Cat litter
- Collar with identification