You’ve got a new Kitten!

Congratulations on your new family member! Its a pretty exciting time, and you probably have some questions and queries, so here’s some basic advice to get you started. We’ll give you more detailed advice specific for your kitten’s breed and age when we see you. We’ve broken our advice down for you into the things you need to know “right now”, later “today”, and “this week”. That should help you stay organised and get your Kitten off to a great start too!

What do I Feed them?

Your kitten was suckling milk from its mother until it was weaned from her at around 5-6 weeks of age. The weaning process allows time for their gastrointestinal system to adjust to a fully balanced kitten food. Your Kitten will probably have been weaned onto a Kitten Kibble (dry food). Changing diet in young kittens is a common cause of diarrhoea and illness. Any change should be done gradually, and in consultation with us, to ensure all the nutritional needs of your kitten are still being met at such a critical time in growth and development.

Fresh or cooked meat only is not an appropriate or balanced diet, and can cause severe health and growth problems.

What should they Drink? What about Kitten Milk?

Clean fresh water must be available at all times. As kittens are quite thirsty (and can be quite clumsy at times!) a heavy water bowl is advised and a second water bowl is a very good idea in case the first one gets knocked over or spilt. Kitten Milk is tasty, and does no harm, but it isn’t necessary, and sometimes becomes a bit of a distraction rather than drinking water. You can give it in moderation.

What about Toileting? How do I prevent the mess and get my kitten toilet trained?

Most Kittens over 6 weeks of age will know how to use a litter tray reliably if they have had access to one.  If this is the case, by simply placing any accidents into the litter tray, they will understand that that is where you want them to toilet.

“My Kitten just won’t use his litter tray – what’s wrong?”

  • Ensure the tray is placed conveniently for your kitten – they do not like to toilet right beside where they eat, so move the tray away a little way
  • Make sure they can get in and out easily – the walls mustn’t be too high.  Some cats will not use litter trays that are enclosed or have a roof.
  • If your kitten is repeatedly urinating in the one area, it generally means that that area still smells of ammonia to the kitten – even if you can’t.  Domestic cleaning products do not remove this.  We stock some simple and cheap products will deactivate the ammonia smell, and then you can retrain the toiling behaviour to the litter tray
  • Be aware that if you are using different litter to what the kitten was used to before you brought it home, that may be the problem. “Sandy” litters like “Cat Lux” are preferred to “Crystal” type litters, so it might be as simple as changing the litter to something like Cat Lux
  • Your kitten may be unwell.  Loose, smelly and poorly formed stools all suggest gastrointestinal disease.  Parasites and other gut Infections are common in Kittens, and are easily and simply treated and fixed once diagnosed
  • If your kitten has episodes of diarrhoea which last longer than 6-8 hours, you should seek our advice as kittens can become very dehydrated very quickly, making a usually simple problem much more complicated.

My Kitten needs Vaccinations…. but for what and when?

Your kitten may or may not have had its first vaccination against Feline Panleukopaenia (also known as feline Parvo virus), Feline Calici Virus and Feline Herpes Virus 1 (also know and an F3 vaccination). If it has you will have a vaccine card to show this. All of the vaccination diseases are usually fatal in unprotected animals, especially when they are young, so vaccination is vital.

Your kitten does not have protection against these diseases until it has had a complete vaccination course. Please call us for advice (4955 6000) to ensure your kitten gets the needed vaccines. Until the vaccination course is completed, your kitten is at risk. For more information on Vaccines.

Parasite Control is vital for the health and wellbeing of your pet, yourself and your family – especially children or grandchildren. Simple parasite prevention programs are best as there are fewer things to remember and less chance of doses being missed etc. However, “all-in-one” products are often far from ideal in many situations, and a customised plan in consultation with your vet, to allow for your location, your lifestyle, your family, other pets in the household, and the activities and behaviours of your pet (such as lizard or gecko hunting) is far better.

Intestinal Worms (hookworm, roundworm, whipworm and tapeworm) are very common in our tropical climate. These worms can cause can cause illness or death of your new kitten, and the larvae can cause serious illnesses in people – especially young children, the elderly or those with immune system weaknesses.

Worming medication dosages are calculated on body weight, and under-dosing is inneffective. Therefore, it is vital that your kitten is weighed prior to each treatment to ensure its dose is adjusted as it grows and is correct. Make use of our free “Weigh and Worm” service to help you get it right.  For more information on intestinal worms.

Kittens MUST be wormed:

  • every 2 weeks until 16 weeks/4 months of age;
  • monthly to 24 weeks or 6 months of age;
  • thereafter at least every 3 months life long.

Always use Drontal, Milbemax, or Advocate Spot-on — other products are less effective.

More frequent worming may be advised as part of a customised parasite prevention plan considering your dogs activities and lifestyle, and your family. Some monthly parasite prevention products provide some coverage against some (i.e. not all) worms and so this cannot be relied upon for all worms, or in high exposure situations.

Heartworm is a contagious disease spread from dog to dog by mosquitoes. Occasionally Cats can become exposed by accident, and the disease is very bit as serious, and in some ways actually worse than heart worm disease is in dogs.  Consequently, heartworm prevention is vital in our tropical climate. There is no treatment available for cats and so the only protection is by prevention.  This is provided by either monthly parasite control medications such as Advocate.

Prevention is recommended from 12 weeks of age and we can advise you on the most appropriate product for your pet. For more information on heart worm in dogs and cats.

Fleas are very, very common and often cause intense itchiness and scratching in dogs, even with very few bites. This commonly results in skin inflammation and sores.

Once a flea population is established in and around your home, it is very difficult and quite costly to control or eradicate the problem. Sandy soils and our humid climate ensure their reproduction is very successful. 10 female fleas can create 250,000 fleas at different stages of the life cycle (egg, larvae, pupae) in just 30 days! As there is no time of year when the flea life cycle is dormant in Queensland, we recommend year round flea control. Products which are generally effective are Advantage, Advocate and Comfortis, but in environments where large numbers of fleas are present, a customised and integrated control plan is required, and our advice should be sought.

For more information on Fleas.

Ticks are a source of worry for many new pet owners. Brown Dog ticks and Cattle ticks are quite common and are generally just a nuisance. Occasionally they can transmit serious blood parasite diseases. Paralysis ticks are a much more serious concern and cause the death of many pets each year. Treatment is expensive, and prevention is not always simple – especially in long haired breeds or outdoor cats in high risk areas

A Paralysis Tick control program should be discussed with your vet as few products can be used safely on cats. Tick searches are a very important element of any tick control program, and we can show you how these are done.  For more information on Ticks, click here.

OK! Thats enough to get you and your kitten started on a great life together.  You know what to feed, and what else they need to be happy, comfy and safe.  You’ve organised your kittens vaccinations with the practice, and we’re looking forward to meeting you.  See you soon!