Points to Remember
- Young animals love to chew when they are teething. Keep electrical wires out of reach.
- Chocolate is dangerous. It contains theobromine, a stimulant which is toxic to pets.
- Never give cooked bones as a treat. They can splinter and cause serious internal injury.
- Poisonous plants include: lilies, eucalyptus, spider plants, azalea, ivy, oleander, and plant bulbs.
- If you treat your lawn with chemicals, keep your animals away.
- Don’t leave plastic bags out. Inquisitive young animals can suffocate.
- Snail baits are poisonous to your pet, even in small amounts, so use only in fenced off areas.
- Household poisons such as ‘Rat Sak’ may be fatal to your pet, so either don’t use them or hide them in an area where the pet can’t get to them.
- Check with your local council with regards to registration laws and procedures for cats.
Ensure your house is Cat-friendly
Kittens and even adult cats can be very inquisitive and playful. To ensure they are safe, potential dangers should be removed. This includes ensuring electrical wires are out of reach, closing off balconies or high decks, placing all poisonous substances in impossible to reach places, and to check your plants. Some plants like arum lilies are toxic to cats, and ingestion of any part of the plant can have serious side effects.
In NSW, it is a legal requirement that cats are microchipped and registered. A microchip is an implant, about the size of a grain of rice, that is placed under the skin of your pet, usually when they are quite young. Microchippping is the best way to identify your pet if they are ever lost. Vet clinics and pounds have microchip scanners, which can read your pet’s chip, and access your contact information that is attached to it. It is important that if any of your details, such as home address or contact numbers change after you get your kitten, that you update your details immediately with your local council.
Bedding and Toys
Cats do enjoy their privacy, so having a comfortable soft bed that is warm and cosy, will make your cat feel safe and at home. It should be in a fairly quiet location – away from the daily bustle of the household.
It can also be a good idea to buy a cat scratching post and toys for your kitten to play with. They love to chase things, and by having toys, you can play with your kitten and develop a bond.
They should also have their own designated food and water bowl.
It can also be a good idea to purchase a cat carrier cage – this greatly increases the ease of taking your cat to the vet, and for general travel purposes. There are numerous different styles you can by, all usually available at your local pet shop.
Desexing is an irreversible surgical procedure that involves removing the testicles from male cats, and the uterus and ovaries from female cats. It is a routine operation that is performed regularly at The Ark Vet. There are lots of reasons to desex your pet, including:
- Costs – no additional food or medical bills for offspring
- Stops pet overpopulation in shelters and on the streets
- Reduces or eliminates territorial behaviour, such as spraying
- Less likely to suffer from anti-social behaviours
- Cats are less prone to wander in search for a mate
- Reduced risk of cancer of the reproductive organs
- Pets generally live longer and healthier lives
Your kitten should be desexed at 5-6 months of age. There is no benefit in waiting, or with females, letting them produce a litter prior to being desexed.
Training and Playtime
Litter training your kitten is generally a painless task. It is important that you begin with multiple litter boxes, located in quiet and private areas of the household. The type of litter you choose will be affected by what is easiest for you to maintain, as well as what your new kitten takes a liking to. Choosing a tray or box is the same. Ensure that the litter tray you choose isn’t too tall for your kitten to get into!
Playtime is a major factor in your kitten’s life. Cats are naturally curious and playful animals, so keep this in mind when considering how to keep your new kitten occupied and active. Cats like toys they can stalk, chase, pounce on and bite. Vary the levels your kitten has in the house, by introducing perches or kitten hammocks if you are able. Puzzle toys are also good, as this will keep your kitten entertained, and their mind active.
It’s all too easy to accidentally encourage kittens to bite or scratch in play, but this type of aggressive behaviour can turn into a big, painful problem as the kitten gets bigger. Never “arm wrestle” with a young cat, and keep some distance between you through play with toys that don’t involve direct contact with the kitten. When kitten teeth or claws touch human skin, screech loudly and immediately walk away. Kittens learn fast that playing rough ends the game, especially when there are other things to play with.
It is important that your kitten receives proper nutrition while it is growing. Kittens are best fed three times a day for the first 4-6 months of life. After this time, they can be fed once or twice a day without any problems. Our nurses are experts in developing a nutrition plan for your new kitten, so book an appointment to receive advice on a range of premium foods.
An abundant source of fresh water is essential, and separate food and water dishes that are difficult to tip over are recommended.
Depending on the breed of your cat, a slicker brush, or comb, or both, may be needed to keep your pet’s coat in top condition. If you have a long-haired breed, we recommend that you get them used to being brushed on a daily basis. This helps keep the fur un-matted, and improves their coat condition.
Trimming your kitten’s nails can seem like a daunting task. Similarly to brushing, it will become a more pleasant experience for all involved if your kitten views it as a normal and regular occurrence. Play with your cat’s feet, and touch their toenails regularly. If you are unsure of how to trim their nails, make an appointment with one of our nurses to show you how!
Place a litter tray somewhere away from the kitten’s food, and somewhere where they have some privacy. Most cats will instinctively use a litter tray from an early age – but if you place them in their litter tray about half an hour after feeding and praise them when they use the try, you can encourage this good behaviour. You should change the litter frequently as cats do not like soiled litter trays.
Your kitten requires a series of vaccinations from the age of 8 weeks of age. These vaccinations cover Feline Enteritis, Calici Virus, Rhinotracheitis, and Chlamydia. We recommend that kittens also receive a course of Feline Leukaemia vaccinations. Vaccination boosters are given at 12 weeks and 16 weeks following the initial vaccination at 8 weeks of age.
Paralysis ticks are a significant health risk to your kitten. They are most active during the warmer months of the year (October to March), but we can sometimes see cases year-round. There is only one preventative product against ticks for cats – Frontline Spray. This spray needs to be applied every 2 weeks to protect against ticks. However, please note that no prevention is 100% effective, so it is vital that you check your kitten daily for ticks.
Be aware that there are a number of tick products on the market for dogs, that are TOXIC FOR CATS. Treatments that contain Permethrin are lethal for cats even in small quantities, and should NOT be used.
If you think your kitten has a tick, take them to a vet immediately for treatment.
Fleas are an annoying parasite that cause itchiness, skin irritations, and spread tapeworm. Our nurses at The Ark Vet can advise you on the right product to use for the prevention of fleas for your kitten, how to use the products correctly and when to apply them. There are a range of products on the market for flea prevention, including chewable tablets, spot-on treatments, sprays and environmental treatments. We will help you choose the best product for your kitten and household.
Intestinal parasites such as Hookworms, Roundworms, Tapeworms and Whipworms live in the cat’s intestinal tract. These gut-worms are prevented by giving kittens fortnightly worming tablets (Milbemax) until 12 weeks of age, then giving the tablets every 3 months for the duration of their life. There are products on the market that can combine parasite protection. For example, Advocate’ is a topical, monthly spot-on that covers intestinal worms, fleas and heartworm.