Basic care - Kitten adoption
Congratulations for your new kitten! The arrival of this little "ball of fur" comes with many responsibilities that you'll need to take care of all of its life, and especially during its first year. Below is information that could be very useful. During your visit, the veterinarian will be happy to answer all your questions.
During your first visit, the veterinarian will determine with you the diseases to which your animal could be exposed and the appropriate vaccination schedule. Though the schedule can vary, it is important that kittens receive the basic vaccines that give protection against infectious diseases such as panleukopenia, rhinotracheitis, feline calicivirus infection and rabies. Vaccination can begin as early as the age of 6 weeks, with a booster shot every 3 or 4 weeks until the animal reaches the age of 12 to 16 weeks. Then, an annual exam is recommended and at that time, the veterinarian will discuss with you the vaccines your pet should receive during the year. Don't forget to tell the veterinarian if your pet will be going outside; the vaccine against leukemia will then be necessary.
At your first visit, a stool analysis (coprology) is recommended to identify the different intestinal parasites that your kitten has. This allows us to prescribe the appropriate treatment. Since your pet can be contaminated when it goes hunting outside, a yearly analysis is ideal.
Sterilization (castration for males and ovariohysterectomy for females) will be done when your pet is around the age of 6 months. To reduce the risk of complications, it is preferable that your kitten not be in heat at the time of surgery. We recommend preoperative blood tests to make sure that your animal can safely undergo anesthesia and to help in the selection of the appropriate anesthetic agent; this reduces anesthetic risks. All animals that have had elective (routine) surgery receive post-operative analgesics, so they will be more comfortable when they wake up and go home. Antibiotics can also be prescribed to reduce the risk of infections.
Until the age of 6 months, a kitten should be fed with food that will sustain good growth. When you change to adult cat food, make sure the transition is gradual; don't make an abrupt change because this could cause diarrhea and/or vomiting. Cats love to nibble; give them a specific amount of food per day, but divide it into many meals (like snacks during the whole day). As they get older, cats are subject to obesity problems; to help avoid this condition, don't let them self-feed. If you have many cats, make sure each cat eats its portion. Ideally, each one should have its own bowl.
In Québec, cats can now receive protection from June to November; products are readily available and easy to administer. Since there are no screening tests (blood analysis) to efficiently detect this parasite in cats and because they are asymptomatic, it is difficult to know exactly how widespread this disease is among felines. This preventive treatment can be combined with a preventive treatment against infestations by fleas, mites and some intestinal parasites. That is why it is strongly recommended.
Do you know that there is a simple test that you can do at home to make sure that your cat is not infested with fleas? Ask a technician for a demonstration. Many products are available for control and/or treatment. Each product works in a different way; let us help you choose the right product for your needs. IMPORTANT: NEVER USE DOG FLEA PRODUCTS (containing permethrines) ON CATS, BECAUSE THEY ARE VERY TOXIC!!
Some kittens have ear mites; these are parasites that are easy to see with a microscope. The veterinarian may judge it necessary to do an ear smear in order to identify them. Do you want to see these mites? Ask a technician to show them to you under a microscope. As with dogs, cats can have otitis; but with regular ear cleaning, you will be able to avoid this problem. Use an appropriate product and the proper technique; the veterinarian or the technician will show you how to do this.
The golden rule: Don't cut too short and clip more often. Stroke the legs of your kitten often so that it gets used to being handled; this way, it will be less nervous when its nails are clipped. Clip your pet's nails when it is calm. To avoid your cat damaging your furniture, get it a scratching post.
As with people, cat teeth should be brushed often. Of course, a specially formulated toothpaste for cats should be used; this toothpaste does not contain fluoride. In addition, some food companies offer kibbles especially made to reduce plaque and tartar build-up because of their abrasive action during mastication; please note that they do not replace brushing. Our nutrition specialists at the « Animania » boutique will be happy to give you advice.
Get the right information before giving medication from your pharmacy to your pet; human medications are often toxic to cats. Call your veterinarian before playing doctor! You risk worsening your animal's condition.