Caring for your new kitten - vaccinations, fleas, desexing, feeding, kitten care

Congratulations on the arrival of your new family member. The following information is provided to help you with all the necessary health care your new kitten will require, including check-ups, vaccination, heartworm prevention, worming, flea control, desexing, dental care, nutrition, microchipping, bathing, home environment, toileting, socialisation and training, native fauna and pet insurance.

Wellness for life

Did you know pets age around seven times faster than you? Taking your cat to the veterinarian once a year is the same as a person seeing a doctor or dentist once every seven or eight years. That is why all cats need twice yearly wellness check-ups. Wellness check-ups allow your veterinarian to detect, treat and help prevent health related problems early before they become painful and sometimes untreatable.

Vaccinations

To safeguard your pet from potentially serious and sometimes fatal diseases we recommend vaccinations. Cats are vaccinated against:

  • Feline Enteritis - This is the most common life threatening disease affecting cats. It is a very contagious viral disease with a high death rate especially in cats under 12 months of age. Signs include fever, depression, severe stomach pain, vomiting diarrhoea and dehydration.
  • Feline Respiratory Disease (Cat Flu) - This is a highly contagious disease. Cats of all age are at risk, especially young kittens, Siamese and Burmese cats. Signs include sneezing, nasal discharge, runny eyes, coughing, loss of appetite and tongue ulcers. This can lead to severe dehydration followed by death.
  • Feline Chlamydia - Chlamydia is an organism that causes eye disease, predominantly seen in kittens up to 9 months of age. The signs of infection are discharge from the eyes (sticky eye or conjunctivitis) and nose, fever, coughing, respiratory signs, enlarged lymph nodes, inappetence, weight loss and depression. Chlamydia is found in up to 1/3 of cases of conjunctivitis and is transmitted by close and persistent contact between cats.
  • FIV Feline Immunodeficiency Virus - This blood borne viral infection causes feline AIDS which is potentially fatal. Vaccination is available and will be recommended by our veterinarians if your cat is considered to be at risk. The virus interferes with the immune system and initial symptoms such as fever, sores, lesions and diarrhoea progress to severe chronic infections as the immune system is overcome. There is no treatment or cure for the virus itself.

Your kitten will require a course of three vaccinations:

  • 6 weeks
    First Vaccination - Temporary
  • 10 Weeks Booster Vaccination
  • 14 Weeks Final Vaccination
  • One week after the 14 vaccination your kitten can go outside and socialise with other cats.

FIV Vaccination requires a course of 3 vaccinations which can be done at 10, 12 & 14 weeks of age or later in life also. Cats vaccinated for FIV after 6 months will require a blood test prior to vaccination.

Adult cats require an annual vaccination booster for life. You will receive a reminder when your cat's yearly vaccination is due.

Desexing

We strongly recommend desexing all cats, male and female, between 5 and 6 months of age. As well as reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies, desexing prevent pets from roaming, fighting, spraying and night prowling.

Once your cat has been desexed, a tattoo is placed in their left ear. This is a requirement to identify that your pet is desexed. Read more about desexing here.

Heartworm Prevention

Heartworm can affect cats and is spread by mosquitoes. Although heartworm is not prevalent in South Australia, there is a monthly spot on available to prevent heartworm in cats.

Your kitten can commence heartworm prevention anytime before 16 weeks of age. Heartworm prevention is needed for the lifetime of your pet. Learn more about heartworm disease here.

Worming

The most common worms that affect cats in Australia are roundworm, hookworm and tapeworm. Worms are a common cause of ill health in pets and can cause signs such as loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea and in severe cases even death.

Kittens should be wormed at 2, 4, 6, 8 and 12 weeks of age, then every 3 months for life with an allwormer, eg. Drontal tablet or Felix paste. Read more about worming here.

Flea Control

Fleas are unfortunately an ever present nuisance to our pets. If they exist in the environment they will find a way onto your cat's skin.

Fleas can be prevented easily and effectively with a once a month topical solution. All pets in the household need to be treated. Kittens can be given a topical flea treatment as early as 6-8 weeks of age. Our Veterinary Healthcare team can provide you with more detailed information about effective flea control. Learn more about fleas here.

Dental Care

Teeth cleaning and gum massage are very important and probably best achieved by supplying your kitten with the appropriate things to chew on. This helps exercise the teeth and gums and helps to prevent boredom. A well balanced diet, regular check ups and brushing will assist in maintaining good dental health. Learn more about dental care here.

Nutrition - a healthy diet

Getting the correct nutrition as a kitten is very important. Therefore it is highly recommended to feed a high quality commercially available kitten or growth formula. We stock several varieties of premium quality cat foods at our hospital. Cats often prefer to eat several small meals per day but will do equally as well if fed one meal at the same time each day. Milk is unnecessary and can cause diarrhoea in those that are lactose intolerant. Clean water must be available at all times. Read more about feeding your cat here.

Identification/ Microchipping

Microchipping is a permanent form of identification in the form of a tiny chip, which is implanted under the skin. Registration details are kept with Central Animal Records and can be updated by the owner if there is any change in owner details.

We recommend to microchip at the time of desexing as a tattoo is required in the right ear to identify them as being microchipped.

Bathing

Kittens generally do not require much bathing, however if this becomes necessary ensure you use a mild shampoo. Cats' skins are very different to outs. Unless absolutely necessary do not bath more than once a week. Click here for tips on bathing your cat.

Home environment, bedding and toys

At home your kitten needs somewhere comfortable to sleep, and access to somewhere protected from the weather so they do not get too hot or cold. To keep your kitten's bright little mind active supply a good range of toys such as cat Kong's, cat treats, balls, scratching poles etc. which can be rotated over a period of a week to keep them novel. If you are out and about have your kitten correctly fitted with a cat harness or use a cat box (particularly for car travel).

Here are some tips and tricks to entertain your kitten at home.

Toileting

At least one litter tray should be provided for your kitten and changed daily. The tray should be somewhere private and quiet. As cats are fastidiously clean your cat may refuse to use the tray if it is dirty. If you have more than one cat, providing at least one tray per cat plus 1 extra is advisable. Any accidents should be cleaned up with an enzymatic cleaner and then traces of smell eliminated using "Bac-to-nature" spray. Learn more about cat toileting here.

Socialisation and Training

Kittenhood is a critical time for socialisation particularly between 10 and 20 weeks of age. While you need to be aware of potential health issues (vaccinations etc) we recommend to socialise cats in a controlled way to minimise risk as your kitten needs to experience lots of new situations, especially people and other animals during this time. Training such as toileting, learning to sit and come can start as soon as you adopt your kitten. They are very responsive and wilful as youngsters. Brief lessons (5-10 minutes) tend to be more rewarding and keep a young kitten's attention. Doing this at least twice a day is a good habit to form, for you and your kitten for the rest of their life.

Make sure you provide plenty of praise. Positive reinforcement for good behaviour achieves much better results than old fashioned punishment. 

Native Fauna

Please remember for the safety and well being of your cat and wildlife it is recommended to keep your cat indoors or in an enclosure after sunset.

Pet Insurance

Adelaide Animal Hospital recommends pet insurance. Insurance is available to cover your pet's medical expenses including surgery, illness and accidents. Read more here.

 

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