Congratulations on your cute and fluffy new kitten! Owning a kitten is a lovely experience and we’ve got some advice to help you ensure they stay healthy and happy.
So, without further ado, here are some of our top tips on getting your kitten settled.
Table of contents
Feeding your new kitten
Kittens need to be on a kitten-specific food. This is because they need higher amounts of certain minerals to help their growth and bone development. Make sure you use a complete food, which means that it contains everything needed for their daily requirements.
For example, kittens need Taurine in their diet. This is an amino acid, which they are unable to produce themselves. The most common sources of taurine are meat and fish, which is why cats are considered carnivores. Without this, they can develop eye and heart issues.
Often people ask about wet or dry food. The answer is that either is fine, just as long as it is complete. Just bear in mind wet food has higher water content, so you will need to feed more of it to get the daily requirements. All food will have either an age or weight guide on the back for feeding amounts. But if you are unsure please ask your vet.
Making the right environment
Kittens are still learning about their environment when they come to your home. They need time to explore and settle in at their own pace. Don’t force them to interact with you straight away. Make sure there is nothing left out which is potentially dangerous or that you don’t wish to be damaged, as they are curious. They need to be stimulated and able to do their natural behaviour.
Some basic requirements include; a safe place to hide, a sleeping area, food and water area, play area and a separate toilet area. It is better to have more than one litter tray and perhaps different styles to see what your kitten prefers. Try not to place it anywhere near their food area. Suitable kitten toys and scratch posts in the areas for play would be ideal. Remember that whether they will be an indoor or outdoor cat they will need to stay inside until vaccinated and neutered.
Protecting your kitten – preventative health
Kittens require two separate vaccination injections a few weeks apart to protect them from certain diseases. For advice on when they should be done please contact your vet. For both indoor and outdoor cats these are important as the diseases can be seen in both.
Vaccinations are against Feline herpes virus and calicivirus (flu symptoms and eye problems), Feline infectious enteritis (highly contagious and can be fatal, causes vomiting and diarrhoea) and feline leukaemia (FeLV; attacks the immune system and so they are more prone to infections and certain cancers). FeLV is passed via saliva and blood so indoor cats may not require this, but we advise speaking to your vet.
Fleas are often found on kittens but can pass onto them from other animals or even transported on humans. We recommend using a safe flea product, such as an age-appropriate spot-on placed on the skin at the back of the neck, or a tablet. Your vet can advise on suitable products based on your kitten’s weight and age and these may need applying every 4 weeks or every few months. It is important to treat all animals in the house.
Worms can be passed directly from the queen (mother) to the kittens. So even if you don’t see any evidence of worms in their stools it is important to treat against them. There are various worms that can cause digestive upsets or other signs. Some worms can cause illness to young children and babies so it is vital to use a licensed product. Again, these can be spot on type or tablets. If you think you would struggle to give tablets, your vet can show you how to do so.
There are lots of reasons to neuter your cat, but we would advise to get them neutered before they can go outside. This will avoid unwanted pregnancies in females and reduce fighting in male cats. These are generally day procedures so your cat will spend the day at the vets and have a short general anaesthetic to undergo the procedure. Your vet can advise on timings for neutering of both male and female cats.
Choosing a vet
An important aspect of pet ownership is knowing who to go to for advice. We would always advise finding and registering with a vet practice in the early stages. All small animal practices will see cats and you can also find some cat only clinics, which are designed to reduce what can be stressful trips to the vets for cats.
Firstly, it is vital to find a registered vet practice. Check the distance and opening times, so you can plan ahead in case of emergency. Finally, have a look at their website to see what the practice looks like and get some information. You may even wish to call them to ask for ideas on pricing of treatments.
Having a kitten is an enjoyable experience and should be fun. If you have any queries or things don’t seem right please contact your vet practice for more advice.
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