Have you ever wondered by the internet is full of kitten videos? Obviously, it’s because kittens are awesome!
But that little bundle of furry love needs some care. Take the time to get your kitten familiar to its new family and environment and things will go smoothly from there.
The East Roswell Vet Hospital crew has a lifetime of experience that we draw upon to give your kitten the healthcare it deserves and needs. We have gathered some essential kitten care information for you here.
A group of kittens can be called a couple of different things. Most common is a “kindle” or a “kyndyll”, but our favorite is an “intrigue”. If you want to know more about an intrigue of kittens, then read on
Taking care of kittens just needs a little bit of attention. Let’s break it down by weeks to make this easier to follow:
Under 4 Weeks:
Kittens are still newborns up to 4 weeks of age. As a newborn, your kitten is just developing their motor skills and coordination. Their body isn’t quite regulating body temperature at this age so they still count on their mother for warmth. If mom is still with her intrigue of kittens, then there is little for you to do beyond providing a warm safe environment, good food for the mother while nursing and proper veterinary care for the family.
If the mother cat is gone or is not able to care for the kittens, then direct human care is required to ensure that the kittens survive, grow and thrive. Schedule a veterinary litter exam so that we can examine the kittens and ensure that they are feeding. Establishing a baseline also helps monitor their progress. If needed, we can introduce bottle feeding to the kittens with an appropriate formula.
The kittens will need to be fed every 2 - 4 hours. Always ensure that the kittens are kept warm and safe.
You may need to also help the kitten to relieve themselves. After feeding, use a warm wet washcloth to stimulate urination and defecation by gentling stroking their bottom ends (mom’s grooming of her kittens would help if she were there).
You can hold the kittens but you need to be gentle. Kitten bones are still forming and injuries may occur with rough handling.
By now, the kittens should be weaned off of their mother’s milk (or the bottle-feeding). We want to start feeding the kittens a high-quality food that is rich in protein. Our doctors can recommend the appropriate kitten food diet. During this stage, their motor skills and coordination should be getting better. Look out, this is when they start exploring and wandering around. Watch and supervise so that they don’t end up in some risky or even dangerous situations.
Kittens grow rapidly during this period. This is when kitten energy levels spike and they become much more energetic than adults. Don’t be surprised to be woken in the middle of the night by your fur baby. They want to play and they can’t understand why you don’t. The more you play and interact with your kitten, the more bonded the two of you will become.
This is your cat’s teenage years. This is when they start to get sexually mature. With beginnings of puberty, you will see some typical behavioral changes similar to human adolescents. Keep playing with your kitten. Any hands-on play will be a bonding experience. Monitor and stop any behavior that is inappropriate. Environmental enrichment is important. Indoor kittens need toys and stimulation. We can advise you of ways of providing an enriched environment. Most kittens will be fully sexually mature by 6-8 months.
We highly recommend spaying or neutering to prevent unwanted pregnancy and kittens.
Kittens should be feeding off their mother during the first 4 weeks of life. If not, human intervention is needed. Use a special commercial milk-replacer formula every 2-4 hours to make sure the kitten is hydrated and eating.
Put a little milk-replacer formula in a shallow dish to coax the kitten away from the bottle. Add moist, easily chewable diet by mixing warm milk-replacer and high quality canned or kibble (soaked) kitten food. Feed 4-6 times a day.
Kittens should be fully weaned and onto regular kitten food. Feed 3-4 times a day. There is a wide variety of kitten foods to choose from. We can discuss these dietary options with you during your kitten’s veterinary appointment. Canned food mimics your cat’s natural diet both in consistency and formulation. Canned food may also help in preventing urinary obstruction in males and diabetes in senior or obese cats. Many combine canned and dry cat foods.
6 months and older:
Kittens are maturing and should be fed 2-3 times a day.
Kittens fed right grow right. Our team is happy to discuss nutrition and schedule for your kitten when we see you next.
Good cat parents ensure that their cats are properly socialized. This includes getting along with children and other pets in the house. Cats and dogs get along just fine if socialized right. The earlier the introduction, the better it will be for the pets. Supervision is important in the beginning.
Early on, the focus should be on:
Litter box use
Scratching posts and playing with toys (including boxes and paper bags)
Socialization petting and cuddling
Enforcing good behavior with treats
Intervening and time outs for bad behavior
Biting and Scratching Redirection
Supervised Introduction to people and animals
Grooming regularly including getting them ready for ear cleanings, nail trims and teeth brushing
Outdoor fun if your cat will not be exclusively an inside cat – vaccinate and supervise
Newborns are a handful. When under four weeks, look for the following:
Not eating properly
Younger kittens being separated or abandoned
Delays in motor skills and coordination development
Lethargy, coughing, vomiting or diarrhea
After this newborn phase, you should begin to be more concerned with behavioral issues such as:
Proper use of the Litter box
Signs of aggression and play-biting
Human parents of kittens may be over-sensitive and cautious, and this is a normal and good reaction. If you observe any odd or concerning behaviors during kitten development, don't wait and worry unnecessarily.
Schedule your kitten in for a doctor visit in addition and we can discuss it together.
Preventive care is the best way we can work towards ensuring your kitten has a long and healthy life. Preventive care starts with finding a veterinarian that you can discuss your concerns and issues.
Our veterinarian will perform a thorough exam, recommend vaccinations and set up a preventive maintenance schedule with you.
Our experience enables us to identify the subtle symptoms that may indicate that something may not be quite right. Early detection is the key to good healthcare.
Kitten vaccinations should be started at around 6 to 8 weeks.
This is when we recommend starting the vaccination program. Some vaccines require boosters; these require further shot(s) within 3 weeks for the kitten series, then at one year later. Once your kitten is an adult, we will develop a long term plan together.
Kitten vaccinations include feline leukemia, rabies, and distemper. These infectious, devastating, diseases are preventable with proper vaccinations.
We may have grown up with images of cats lapping up a saucer full of milk, but is that real? Yes! Cats love milk. Is it good for the cat?
Unfortunately, the reality is that most cats are actually lactose intolerant, just like many people are. Technically lactose intolerance means that the cat lacks the enzyme lactase, which is needed to break down milk.
And just like in people, without the proper enzyme, milk may cause bacteria to ferment and upset your kitty’s tummy. This may result in diarrhea and maybe even vomiting.
Don’t worry, though, it usually passes within eight to twelve hours and then your cat is feeling fine again.
All kittens need deworming medications to kill most intestinal parasites. We will also test your cat's stool for other uncommon and potentially serious parasites. Cats, like dogs, can contract heartworms. Sometimes, feline heartworm looks like asthma or other respiratory conditions and may go undiagnosed if not specifically tested for. There is no treatment for cat heartworm. Heartworm prevention medications can easily protect against feline heartworm.
Fleas remain one of the most common and annoying parasites for cats. Depending on your cat's lifestyle, effective flea and tick control is an important part of kitten healthcare. Over-the-counter flea and tick sprays, powders and collars are not as effective as prescription medications.
By 5-6 months, kittens are entering puberty. We need to schedule your kitten's spay or neuter during this time to
Address bad habits like territorial spraying or inappropriate humping
Stop unplanned litters – don’t add to the pet overpopulation problem
Decrease the chances of testicular or mammary cancer as your kitty ages
It is effortless to schedule an appointment with any of our veterinarians. Just make a call or send an email, it’s that easy. Our veterinary team is here to ensure that your kitten stays healthy.