Kitten Care at Home

So you have a new kitten, or perhaps you're wondering what's involved before you take the plunge!

The following outlines the 4 key essentials to consider for a new kitten followed by some of the main responsibilities involved in giving your kitten the best start to life.

1. VACCINATIONS
Your kitten requires a 6 week, 10 week and 14-16 week vaccination. This is to
protect them against serious viral infections.

2. MICROCHIPPING
This is the only permanent identification which links your kitten to you. It is required before registering with the council.

3. DESEXING
Performed between 4-6 months of age. This will help prevent unwanted behaviours such as roaming, urine marking, and catfighting. It will also prevent health problems such as breast cancer, infected uterus, abscesses, feline AIDs.
It is a day procedure and your kitten will generally have a VERY fast recovery.

4. PARASITE CONTROL
There are 3 main parasites you need to protect your kitten against in Melbourne:

HEARTWORM: Least common but most life-threatening. Will cause heart failure and many animals don’t survive the treatment. Included in many monthly products (i.e. Revolution/ Advocate).

FLEAS: Most common parasite in Melbourne.
Many animals that come to us have fleas- most of the time the owner is unaware.
Burdens are difficult to eradicate. Each flea can lay up to 300 eggs and each egg can survive up to 6 months.
Requires a monthly “squeeze-on” (i.e. Revolution/ Bravecto).

INTESTINAL WORMS: Also common.
Life-threatening in high burdens and young kittens.
Worming is required:
• Every 2 weeks until 3 months old.
• Then monthly until 6 months old.
• Then every 3 months for life.

MORE IMPORTANT RECOMMENDATIONS, KITTEN TIPS & HINTS

PET INSURANCE- Please see our handout for further information. We strongly recommend pet insurance as: 75% of insured owners make a claim within the first 2 years AND 1/3 of all pets require costly emergency trip each year.

DIET
Your kitten should be fed three meals per day.
Reduce to twice daily meals on they reach 4 months of age.
Feed kitten food until 6-12 months of age before switching to adult food.

How much do I feed my kitten?
It is important for your kitten to have a regimented feeding schedule once they are over 12 weeks old. Grazing dry food IS NOT ideal as this will promote obesity. Follow package directions for an indication of how much to start with. If there is food leftover after 10 minutes then reduce the amount given next time.

What should I feed my kitten?
Cats are not active water seekers as they evolved in the desert and naturally get moisture from their prey. Therefore their diet should consist of a HIGH MOISTURE.
Offer wet and dry food to expose your kitten to a variety of textures. This should avoid fussiness when they are older. Once your kitten reaches
6 months of age– gradually transition them to an 80% wet food diet: 20% dry food diet.
The only dry food we recommend is Royal Canin Dental or Hills t/d to help maintain dental hygiene.
What wet foods do we recommend?
Ziwipeak, Royal Canin, Hills Science etc.
For cats addicted to dry food– Ziwipeak and Royal Canin Mature are other preferences apart from Royal Canin Dental.

DO NOT FEED
• Onions, garlic
• Chocolate products
• Coffee products
• Grapes/raisins,
• Sugar-free products (gum, ice cream etc)
• Yeast dough
• Excessive fresh fish, fatty foods (bones, pork chops, sausages).

DO NOT ALLOW ACCESS TO string, Lillies, rat sack, antifreeze, cleaning chemicals, Panadol, Aspirin etc.

INSIDE vs OUTSIDE DEBATE
Should you have an indoor cat? In one word—YES!

DISADVANTAGES OF AN OUTDOOR CAT
1. Parasite infestation – fleas, intestinal worms, heartworm.
2. Catfighting and abscesses
3. Feline AIDs infection from a cat bite
4. Cat flu, Toxoplasma, Giardia infection and many more
5. Ingesting a toxic/ deadly poison.
6. Breeding and overpopulation if not desexed.
7. Snakebite
8. Getting lost or trapped
9. Dog attack
10. Car accident (rarely survive)
11. Killing of innocent wildlife—birds, lizards etc
12. Expensive vet bills
13. Average life span of 3-14 years (13-20 years for an indoor cat).
14. Go missing + MANY MORE

DISADVANTAGES OF AN INDOOR CAT
1. Prone to inactivity and weight gain (this can also occur in an outdoor cat, however).
2. Boredom (again, can occur in an outdoor cat)

INDOOR CAT MYTHS AND FACTS
1. Myth: Outdoors is a cat's natural environment.
Cats were domesticated thousands of years ago and were removed from their natural environment. They have evolved now where they depend on humans for food and shelter; thus, their natural environment is now indoors.
2. Myth: It’s cruel to deprive the pleasures of outside.
Cats do enjoy the outdoors, they can, however, be perfectly content indoors. Many indoor cats find the outdoors very frightening. With consideration, you can provide toys and activities to keep your cat healthy and happy indoors.
Having an indoor cat is the safest and most cost-effective solution.

MENTAL AND PHYSICAL STIMULATION

GET TWO CATS
If you are adopting a young cat or a kitten, you will never regret getting two. They will play together, groom each other and provide lots of physical play and mental stimulation that a human could never provide. This will work best if they are from the same litter or introduced when they are young. Once a cat is solitary for over 12 months – they can react very badly to another cat “invading” their territory. This can cause lifelong anxiety in your pet that you never intended.

PROVIDE AN OUTDOOR ENCLOSURE OR CAT PROOF YOUR FENCE
This is the best way to allow your cat to experience the outdoors but provides safety from stray cats and cars. We encourage all owners to set one up if possible.

ENRICHING THEIR ENVIRONMENT
• Cat gyms (preferably to the ceiling) are excellent in providing vertical climbing posts, hammocks and hiding holes. All cat owners should have one.
• Single cat resting perches– on top of the fridge, wardrobe, sideboard etc. Important if you have more than one cat.
• Cat tunnels, boxes, paper bags are all just as exciting as the expensive cat toys.
• Prey-like toys: mice, scrunched up foil, ping pong balls, wand toys etc.
• Puzzle toys– to try and get food out of or just to play these are excellent ways to keep your cat’s brain working. “All 4 Pets” has a variety of puzzle toys for cats including the “Kong wobbler” and the “Senses” variety.
• Training: Yes you can train cats, even teach clicker training.

For more ways to keep your kitty entertained– pick up a copy of our Cat Entertainment Handout.

If you choose to allow your cat outdoors then the following is considered essential:
1. Pet insurance
2. FIV vaccinations (not required with an indoor cat).
3. Consistent parasite control i.e. Revolution 4. Have a collar with identification
5. Desexing and microchipping

LITTER
Cats like to be clean, this also applies to their litter! Provide an extra litter tray per cat. Ie: 1 cat = 2 litter trays. 2 cats = 3 litter trays and so on.

BEHAVIOUR
NEVER discipline your kitten with physical punishment. It will not work and your kitten will only become afraid of you or become more aggressive. The hand should always be a friend.
BEHAVIOUR TIPS:
Try not to play with your hand. Always use a toy. You do not want to train your kitten to treat your hand like a mouse.
Do not allow your kitten on or into an area you do not want them as adults i.e. kitchen counter. If they become persistent– set up a “kitty booby trap” so as to dissuade them in your absence.
Example 1: Double-sided sticky tape on the edge of the bench or couch to dissuade scratching.
Example 2. A strip of cloth sprayed with peppermint or orange oil on the bench.
Example 3. Empty soda bottles balanced on toilet paper rolls that fall over and make a clattering noise.

AND REMEMBER... Start brushing your kitten early so they will be much easier and happier to be brushed as adults.