New Kitten Advice

Socialisation

The socialisation period for kittens happens much earlier than with puppies – between 4 and 9 weeks old compared to 8-12weeks with puppies.

With this short window, and with most owners collecting their kitten at the age of 7/8 weeks, owners must be ready to socialise their kitten which will help set behaviours for the rest of its life.

WAYS TO SOCIALISE YOUR KITTEN

1. Playing with them and their carrier

Most cat carriers don’t come out until it’s time for the cat to go to the vet – which is why they can be pretty hard to find when the carrier comes out! 

Normalising them with their carrier when they’re young means it’s not so much of a traumatic experience trying to get them into the carrier later down the track.

You can do this by playing with the kitten around and inside the carrier by throwing toys on-top of, around and inside the carrier. Feeding the kitten in the same manner by :

  1. Placing the food next to the carrier one night
  2. Placing the food on-top of the carrier a few days later
  3. Placing the food inside the carrier a few days after that
  4. Leaving the carrier on the ground with the door open and a blanket inside so naps can be taken inside of it

This is great for normalising the carrier experience and the same technique can be used in the days leading up to a vet visit or trip away – which leads us to our next suggestion!

2. Driving them around

Although you’re not likely to take your cat on daily trips to parks like you would a dog, getting your kitten used to the driving experience in case you have to take them in the car somewhere is a great idea.

Coupled with getting your kitten used to the carrier, taking your kitten into the car and driving around is the next step. Once you close your kitten into the carrier, take the kitten into your car and drive them around the block. Being motionless in a car that is moving is an unusual feeling for your kitten, so starting out with short trips and progressively make them longer trips will help accustom your cat with the car.

 

3. Teaching them not to claw at you and used to being touched

Kittens need to learn how to retract their claws. You can help them do this by simply holding your kitten against your body. At any point their claws dig into your clothes, pull the kitten away from you for 10 seconds, and then place them back on your body. Do this several times a day and your kitten will learn how to retract their claws as well as to hopefully not use their claws on you!
As well as this, take the opportunity to get your kitten used to being handled and touched all over. Rubbing their ears, touching and playing with their paws as well as rubbing them all over with help acclimatise them to being handled when they’re older.

Vaccinations

Vaccination protocol for you kitten will vary depending on whether you plan on them being an indoor cat, or an indoor and outdoor cat. If your cat is going to be an outdoor cat, we recommend protecting against Feline AIDS (FIV). Feline AIDS is caused by an infection with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). It is spread by mostly being bitten by another infected cat, but can also be transmitted by an infected mother cat to her kittens .

INDOOR

  • 6-8 weeks Feline Enteritis, Herpes & Calici
  • 10-12 weeks Feline Enteritis, Herpes & Calici
  • 14-16 weeks Feline Enteritis, Herpes & Calici

ADULTS: Annual F3 Boosters are required to maintain immunity

OUTDOOR

  • 6-8 weeks Feline Enteritis, Herpes & Calici
  • 10-12 weeks Feline Enteritis, Herpes & Calici & Feline AIDS
  • 2 WEEKS AFTER 2ND Vaccination  Feline AIDS booster
  • 14-16 weeks Feline Enteritis, Herpes & Calici & Feline AIDS

Parasite Prevention

Worming

Intestinal worms are very common in kittens and cats, so regular worming is important as they can also transmit it to humans. Many worms are invisible to the naked eye, so worming tablets should be administered regardless of whether worms are seen in the faeces.

Furthermore, roundworms are a significant human health hazard causing permanent sight loss in a number of children in Australia every year. We recommend using an all wormer, which are available as a tablet or a spot on product.

Heartworm Prevention

Heartworm is transmitted between cats via mosquitoes. Infection with heartworm is a potentially fatal disease where treatment can be expensive and not always successful. We have a topical product which covers heartworm in cats available for purchase from our practice.

Flea control

It is better to use a regular flea prevention treatment rather than letting an infestation develop as all pets will be exposed to fleas at some stage.

Remember that all pets in the household must be treated.

For cats we recommend a monthly ampule which is applied onto the back of the neck and covers worming, heartworm and fleas.

Desexing

We recommend all pets other than those intended for breeding be de-sexed as Adolescents. De-sexed pets are less likely to roam and fight. It significantly reduces the likelihood of certain illnesses such as mammary tumours. The best age for de-sexing is 6-12 months of age and Eltham Veterinary Practice offers a free consultation to assess the ideal timing. There is no advantage in allowing females to have a heat or litter first.

Click here to find out more about desexing your pet.

Diet

Giving your kitten the best nutritional start in life is essential given that they grow so quickly during the first 12 months. Our healthcare team can give you specific advice on feeding your kitten, as a good quality balanced diet is essential for a long and healthy life.

 

Check list for your new Kitten

A safe haven – A bed, a box or a nook – cats like small spaces and need a space of their own that they can retreat to. You can even use their cat carrier which will help desensitise the experience when they come to the vet. There is merit in having a day bed and a night bed as cats tend to follow the sun!

Cat Carrier – As owners you need to have a safe transportation method when taking your cat anywhere. Although the market is saturated with cat carriers, we recommend soft cat carriers that open from the top, or hard carriers that un-clip from the middle so the top half comes off. These help provide a less traumatic experience for your cat when the vet has to take them out of the carrier.

Towel & blanket – Having a dedicated towel & blanket for your cat provides them more comfort when having to take them anywhere. The towel should live in the bottom of the cat carrier, and the blanket is for draping the carrier to create a safe dark nook for them inside the carrier.

Two Bowls – One bowl dedicated to your kittens food and another for their water. The water bowl should be bigger than their food bowl and in another area as some cats don’t like to drink where they eat.

Kitty litter tray, tray liners and kitty litter – These are essential when house training your cat to go to the toilet inside. Knowing which litter tray and kitty litter to use is hard to define, as some cats don’t like a big lip on the tray, some may not like the litter you use and some prefer 2 trays. The key is to try a few and not to buy in excess until you know which one your cat prefers!

Scratching post – Cats have a natural need to claw things, better it be scratching a post than your furniture! Some cats prefer to claw vertically where a post is preferred, other horizontally where a scratch mat/rug comes in handy.

Toys – Cats love to play at all hours of the day, having toys there will keep them entertained whilst also having them practice their natural instincts. Things such as boxes, scrunched up foil or paper can be a hit.

Collar & ID tag– In case your kitten goes on an adventure, it’s recommended they have a collar and ID tag with your contact phone number/s in case they are found.

Brush – Depending on the coat, cats may need regular brushing to help them groom themselves. Making brushing a regular part of the day will not only help your kitten get used to the routine and cement the habit with yourself, but it’s a great bonding experience for you both.

UrineOff/ Stain Neutraliser – Useful in removing the stain and odour if there is an accident in your household, and it can be used on all surfaces. If there is an accident, don’t clean it up with any products containing ammonia as it smells like cat wee to cats!

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Eltham Veterinary Practice

644 Main Rd, Eltham VIC 3095

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Sat: 9am - 1pm

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