for Your Brand New Kitten
Info from Aqualand Pets Plus on Felis domesticus
Pet World Visit
Kids cannot resist kittens.
Weeks with Mom: New kittens eat nothing but their mother’s milk at first. She begins weaning them at about four weeks. If you look at their sharp little teeth, you can see why. She usually weans them to solid food by 6 to 8 weeks. We prefer kittens 8 to 14 weeks old. These sturdier kittens resist diseases better and adjust to new homes more easily.
Avoid Bottled Milk: Mom’s milk contained colostrum which helps protect them from many diseases. Cow’s milk contains half the protein of mom’s milk. It also contains lactose which about half of all cats cannot digest. They’re lactose intolerant – just like Santa. Cartoon cats and kittens drink milk. Real cats and kittens upchuck milk.
Kitten Food: Your kitten’s food is its second line of defense (our vet is its first line) against health problems. If you change from one kitten food to another, expect some diarrhea. We recommend you stick with the food we (and our vet) feed your kitten. If you decide to change foods, mix the two together and change it over gradually. Sticking with the same food also helps your new kitten adjust to its new home. Keep your fast-growing new kitten on kitten food for 10 to 12 months. By the way, pregnant moms and lactating moms also need the extra protein and fats in kitten food.
Dry Foods: Healthy kittens need no vitamin or mineral supplements when you feed a quality kitten food. Dry foods offer several advantages over canned foods. They cost less, take less room to store, rarely spoil, and feed out more easily. Plus, you don’t have to keep their stinky extras in your fridge.
Canned Foods: Kittens eat canned food more readily than dry foods. They have to. It’s mostly water – 80%. They have to eat four times as much to “break even” nutrition-wise. However, we recommend you feed the food YOU prefer – not the food your kitten prefers. Dry food also keeps your kitten’s teeth cleaner and healthier. Feeding canned food can make cats lose their teeth prematurely.
Water: Provide fresh water daily. Keep your toilet lid closed. Toilet bowls present no danger to cats, but kittens can drown in a toilet.
Litter Box: Healthy kittens always use their litter box – IF they can find it. If your new kitten has to go and his litter box is four rooms away (and he doesn’t know right from left), he can find your shirt, shoes, or bedspread easier. Confine him to a small area (with no shoes) until he learns where to find his litter box. Also, keep it clean. Cats and kittens hate dirty litter. By the way, expectant human mothers should never handle dirty kitty litter due to the risk of toxoplasmosis.
Pick Your Vet: We like our vets – the Highland Park Veterinary Clinic -- and recommend them. Pick a vet now. You will need follow-up inoculations. Always call for an appointment. You also need to talk to your vet if you see:
· Diarrhea or excessive thirst,
· Sudden weight loss or gain,
· Difficulty breathing,
· Straining in the litter box,
· Fever or loss of appetite,
· Poor coat or skin,
· Red eyes or runny nose,
· Vomiting – except hair balls,
· Sluggishness or odd behavior.
Last Word: Have fun with your new kitten.
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Allergies: Some people react strongly to cat dander. Kittens rarely bother them, but these people experience severe reactions to adult cats – which all kittens grow into. Before adding a kitten to your family, nuzzle a friend’s cat to check for allergies. Allergic reactions take all the fun out of owning a cat.
Marking: When cats or kittens rub their faces against you, entwine their tails around you, or pat you with their paws, they are marking you with tiny sebaceous glands in their cheeks, tails, and paws. They own you. You just think you own them.
Grooming: Kittens and cats enjoy the extra attention when you brush and comb them on a regular basis. Infrequent brushings of long-haired cats mean painful snags and mats. Frequent brushings yield a sleek, shiny coat. Brushing also means fewer hair balls.
Tooth Brushing: Brushing your kitten’s teeth will make his teeth last longer and smell better. Removing plaque and massaging his gums helps prevent gingivitis and helps keep his teeth healthy. Start with the little finger-tip “brushes.” Use a cat toothpaste – not human toothpaste. Cats really resent you messing in their mouth unless you started when they were kittens. Forget trying to brush the teeth of a ten-year-old cat for the first time.
LA Kittens recharging their batteries.
Neutering: Male cats reach sexual maturity at six months of age. Unneutered males howl, spray (mark their territory with very strong urine), run out the door every time you open it, and come back the next morning (hopefully) with oozing sores, ugly scabs, and torn ears. Cat fights are not a joke. Neutered toms live longer. Tomcatting around poses serious dangers for most cats.
Spaying: Female cats go into heat around seven or eight months of age. They make much better mothers at a year old. Strong howling and repeated escape attempts occur at 21-day intervals unless you spay her. Females allowed to roam outside come home pregnant and infested with parasites.
Inoculations. We do not allow un-inoculated kittens to mix with our healthy kittens. Inoculations can prevent many kitten-killing diseases. Also, most vets insist your cat have its rabies shot before performing surgery. Most also want you to keep up your annual booster shots.
Leukemia Screen. We pay for your kitten’s feline leukemia screen. It works on kittens over eight weeks of age.
Licensing: Des Moines
requires you to buy a license for your cat -- $10 for “fixed cats” and
$25 for fertile cats. When
your vet gives your cat a rabies shot at six months, your vet has to
notify the city of
Ear Mites: Too small to see, ear mites infest 75% of all cats. Symptoms include head shaking, dirty and/or smelly ears. Clean their ears and use any standard ear mite medication. Allowing your kitten/cat to associate with infected felines will re-infest your feline. Mites spread very rapidly.
Fleas: Perhaps the most common parasite of all, fleas bother more people because they can see them. Fleas also nip some people. They prefer females (particularly fair-haired females). As with other parasites, allowing your feline to run with infected animals will bring fleas home to you. Don’t use dog flea killers on cats – especially kittens – because felines lick their fur constantly.
Flea Killers: We prefer Bio-Spot. Bio-Spot kills adult fleas when applied. It also contains insect growth regulators that prevent flea grubs from maturing into blood-sucking adults. And, unlike internal flea killers, the flea doesn’t have to bite your pet to make the flea killer work.
Worms: See the parasite page for more info than you ever wanted.
De-Clawing: Not everyone agrees on the practice of de-clawing. Talk to your vet before deciding. Keep your de-clawed cat indoors. Oddly enough, de-clawed cats can still climb trees.
Last Word: Cats tied outside on a rope are known as “dog bait.” You can walk a cat on a leash, but never tie it outside. LA.
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