Kitten care

Congratulations on the arrival of your new kitten. At Cedar Veterinary Group we like to feel we are not only here to help when your cat becomes ill, but we are also interested in preventative care and this why we have prepared this information for you.

Before you get your kitten home there are some things you will need to get ready for him. There are a wide variety of cat beds on the market but very often cats will choose their own place to sleep. To help your kitten settle an old cardboard box with one side cut out can provide a very useful bed lined with an old blanket or jumper. You will need bowls for food and water that are easy to clean and can be kept separate from your own.

Toilet training

Until your kitten is old enough to go outside, if you intend to let him/her, you will need a litter tray and cat litter. There are a number of suitable litters on the market and the litter tray should be deep enough to hold plenty of litter and wide enough for an adult cat to turn around inside.

Encourage your kitten to use it by placing the tray in a quiet corner and putting him into the tray after every meal. If your kitten is scratching at the floor, turning in small circles and starting to crouch he/she is also about to pass something so, if you can, without upsetting him/her, pick him/her up and put him/her in the tray.

If the tray is dirty your kitten will not want to use it, so make sure you clean up after him/her regularly. Do not clean the litter tray with any very strong smelling cleaners as this will discourage your kitten from using it, rather use a weak household bleach solution.

As your kitten gets old enough to go outside start to slowly move the litter tray nearer to the cat flap or door every day. Then put it outside for a day or two and finally sprinkle a little litter wherever you wish your cat to go. Very often cats will choose to use a neighbour’s garden rather than their own but if you can, try to keep them well away from children’s play areas.

Feeding

Deciding which food to give your kitten needn’t be as daunting as some of the supermarkets make it appear. Your kitten is best fed on a specifically produced kitten food. A lot of the pet food manufacturers are now realising that there is a difference in the nutritional requirements of adult cats and kittens and have therefore produced balanced diets for both. It is also not a good idea to change your kittens food when you first get him/her home, let him/her settle in first on the food he’s/she’s been used to and then you can change it if you wish to.

A kitten’s stomach obviously isn’t very large so while he/she is still small feed him/her four to five times a day, slowly reducing the number until by the time he is six months old he/she is on two meals a day. Very young kittens get all the nutrients they need from their mother’s milk but as they get older and are eating solid foods cow’s milk (which has a reduced lactose content) can cause stomach upsets, so don’t expect all adult cats to enjoy a saucer of milk.

Make sure that you feed your kitten at the same time every day and if you are feeding a tinned food throw away any that is uneaten. It is also important to feed the food at room temperature, your kitten may be put off by cold food straight from the fridge.

Basic training

Cats as well as dogs need to have some basic training to make them acceptable members of your family. When your cat has done something that you wanted him to do reward him. The best reward for a cat is usually extra fuss and attention, but it must be immediate. If, however, he/she has done something that you didn’t want him/her to don’t punish him/her.

Cats don’t understand this kind of treatment and you will only convince him/her that humans are a very strange species and not to be trusted all the time. So make sure you are consistent in your treatment of your kitten, it isn’t fair to confuse him/her by letting him/her do things one time and then stopping him/her the next.

One problem you may find with your kitten is that he/she scratches at the furniture not realising that it wasn’t put there for his/her benefit. To avoid this either make or buy a scratching post. Encourage your kitten to use it by hanging a toy from it and playing with him/her.

Grooming

As with all young animals you need to keep a close eye on your kitten for any signs of ill health. One way you can do this and also help to build the relationship between you is by grooming. Most cats are fastidious groomers but they will all benefit from regular grooming and for the long haired cats it is especially important.

We regularly have cats in for a ‘dematt’ which requires a general anaesthetic and often total shaving (we are not feline beauticians!) so the more you can groom your cat the better. While you’re grooming it will also give you the chance to find any problems such as skin parasites, cuts or lumps and bumps. You may not see any actual fleas but what you are more likely to find is the flea dirt. This looks like very small dark particles but if you put it onto damp paper you will see it spread out into red patches. To treat your cat for fleas there are a number of different products.

You can choose between sprays, drops, collars and mousse. If you are not sure which one would be best for you we would be happy to help. It is also important to treat the house and we can supply a spray for this.