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Animal Care Library

Use our Animal Care Library for quick, easy access to our most common animal care problems. Use our Animal Care Library for quick, easy access to our most common animal care problems. Use our Animal Care Library for quick, easy access to our most common animal care problems.

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Caring for your New Kitten Species: cats       Categories: kittens

Whether curled up asleep, tearing around the house or climbing the curtains, kittens are undeniably cute. But don’t forget, they are totally dependent on you to provide for their health and well-being to grow into healthy adult cats.A proper diet, vaccination and worming programs, kitten kindy, fighting fleas, de-sexing and micro-chipping are all issues you need to know about. Don’t worry. Your best ally will be the team at Vet Cross who will be happy to give you advice on all aspects of your kitten’s health.

Vaccination

Kittens need to be vaccinated with the first F4 at 6 to 8 weeks with a booster at 12 weeks. The F4 vaccination protect against Feline Enteritis, Feline Calcivirus, Feline Chlamydia and Cat Flu.

Another vaccination that your vet will advise is for Feline AIDS, commonly known as FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus), and it is spread by cats fighting. It is administered as an initial series of three doses, two weeks apart and is given to kittens at 8 weeks of age or older. Cats more than 6 months of age should be tested to ensure they are free of the AIDS virus before being vaccinated and ideally they should be permanently identified with a microchip. An annual booster is needed to ensure continued protection.

Kittens require these boosters since maternal antibodies obtained from their mother interfere with response to vaccination.

Worming

Gastrointestinal worms are dangerous to your kitten’s health. Most kittens are infected early in life, especially with roundworms through their mother’s milk. Kittens should be wormed at 6, 8 and 12 weeks of age, then every 3 months. Pregnant and nursing queens should also be treated.

Various worming tablets, drops and pastes are available. Recently released is the first spot-on worming preparation that kills roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms in cats. ‘Profender’ can be used on kittens from 8 weeks of age.

Heartworm

Heartworm disease is not as prevalent in cats as it is in dogs, as the cat’s immune system is able to eliminate most infections. However, not all infections are eliminated after the mosquito carrying the immature heartworm bites the cat, and these immature stages can develop to become large worms in the heart and vessels in the lungs. Signs of heartworm disease in cats are variable, and include sudden death. Heartworm disease can be prevented by giving monthly medication, either oral or as a topspot preparation. Ask your veterinarian about the prevalence of heartworm disease in your area.

Diet

Kittens have specific requirements for different nutrients, and it is important to feed a high quality, balanced kitten food in order to meet these needs. Dry and tinned forms are available, and they are only different forms of the same food. Most kittens can eat the dry food by 8 weeks of age. If they are eating a balanced kitten food, they require no other supplements, including milk. In fact, some cats have lactose intolerance and develop diarrhoea if given milk.

It is important to train your kitten to eat raw chicken wings and necks from a young age. This is to keep their teeth and gums healthy throughout life. Give them the wing tips first, although most kittens are happy to tackle the whole wing. Periodontal disease is an important disease of middle-aged to older cats, and training your kitten to chew chicken bones from the start will help your cat avoid developing this potentially life-shortening disease.

It is recommended to give a chicken wing at least twice a week. After 12 months, raw bones can be given daily and in increasing amounts to make up to 40-50% of the diet, reducing the amount of commercial food required. Raw lamb cutlets, osso bucco cuts, beef spare ribs or lamb shanks are also good for variety. Chicken wings must be fed fresh and handled as for human consumption to avoid bacterial contamination and food poisoning. Discard any uneaten bones after 1 hour. If you do not wish to feed bones, train your kitten to enjoy tooth brushing from an early age.

Desexing

Speying your female kitten, and castrating your male kitten, will prevent any unwanted litters, as well as undesirable behaviours. Male kittens can start spraying inside the house to establish their territory from about 6 months of age, and will fight and roam to satisfy the natural male urge to become dominant in their territory. Female kittens first come into season from 5 months of age, and vocalise and become restless when on heat. Breeding from your pet cat is strongly discouraged, since there are so many thousands of cats and kittens put down each year due to cats not being desexed.

To avoid these problems desexing of both males and females is recommended before the onset of puberty, generally around 5 – 6 months of age. Some vets will recommend earlier desexing from 12 – 16 weeks of age. It is best to ask your own vet and be guided by their preference.

Fleas

There are many different flea preparations available, some of which are combined with other parasite control. Early treatment is recommended since fleas reproduce at astounding rates. Ask your veterinarian for the most appropriate flea control for your kitten.

Micro-chipping

It is highly recommended to microchip your pet as microchips provide a permanent form of identification that cannot be changed or removed and this identification lasts for the life of your pet. Most will have been micro-chipped by the breeder, but if not, it can be done in a consultation with your veterinarian. The microchip is the size of a grain of rice and is implanted by giving it through a needle, as an injection, beneath the skin between the shoulder-blades. The number on the microchip is then registered with your local council on the Companion Animal Registry. There is also a national database called the Australian Animal Registry, and you can register your cat on this database as well.

Pet Insurance

Pet Insurance offers you peace of mind. If your pet is involved in an accident or suffers a sudden illness the medical costs can be several hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Unfortunately, many pets are euthanased each year as owners are unable to meet these unexpected costs. Pet Insurance is your safeguard against this outcome.

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Dogs

First aid kit, coughing, anal gland disease, crate training and more... Learn more...

Cats

Caring for your new kitten, cat fight abcesses, first aid kits, feline aids and more... Learn more...

Horses

Greasy heel, chewing and biting habits, head shaking, strategic worming and more... Learn more...

Birds

Stress in birds, parrot fever and more... Learn more...

Cattle

Bull testing, three day sickness, pregnancy testing and more... Learn more...

Small Ruminants

Worms, alpaca answers, pulpy kidney disease and more... Learn more...