Kitten Guide

/Kitten Guide
Kitten Guide 2018-02-24T16:19:20+00:00

Kitten Care Guide

Are you looking to adopt a kitten? Not sure what you’re getting yourself into?

There’s no denying it! who can ever resist those cute, cuddly faces and meows. But, kittens can be a lot of work. In fact, your first year with your kitten can be the most expensive year! So, in this guide, we will briefly cover everything you need to know before you get a kitten.

What You Need Before Your Kitten Arrives

Bringing a new kitten home can be tricky business! It’s like preparing for a baby’s arrival! Before you bring your new kitten home make sure you read our important guide on kitty essentials.  Here we’ve made a comprehensive checklist for you to follow:

  • Cat carrier: ideally you want to invest in a small to medium size cat carrier that will be comfortable for your kitten but still spacious enough for when they grow up.
    Ideally, you should choose a soft, collapsible carrier that has at least two access points.

  • Pet blankets & kitten beds: kittens will feel a lot better if they feel like their safe. When you get ready to pick up your new kitten, make sure you have a few kitten blankets and beddings in their carrier. Not only will this keep them warm, but it will also comfort them when they leave their mothers for the first time.

  • Kitten bowls: When it comes to pet bowls, buying the cheap, plastic pet dishes can be tempting. But, we don’t recommend this as plastic bowls can trap a lot of bacteria over-time making it unhealthy for a young kitten. a ceramic bowl would be ideal for your new family member.

  • Cat litter pan & scoop: These days there are all sorts of litter pans out there! Deep pans, hooded, giant trays, and even self-cleaning trays! Ultimately it’s up to you to choose the best litter pan of your choice.

  • Cat litter suitable for kittens: traditional litter is often dusty and clay based. While this type of litter is cheap, it doesn’t mean its good for your cat. Clay-based, dusty litter often causes respiratory problems, breathing problems, coughing sneezing in cats. So, we recommend that you choose a natural based litter that’s plant-based or recycled.

  • Kitten toothbrush & toothpaste: Dental care is of utmost importance when it comes to your kitten’s health. Yes, even cats need to have their teeth brushed and cleaned on a regular basis so that they don’t get gum disease. We recommend that you begin brushing your kitten’s teeth when they are young. This will allow them to get used to the tedious routine.

  • Scratching post: kittens and cats love to scratch. Be sure to get a cat scratch post to satisfy those tiny claws. Ideally, you want to choose a fairly large cat tree that will satisfy your kittens love for climbing.

  • Cat toys! kittens love to play, their favorite activities often include stalking and pouncing on prey. Interactive toys such as fake mice, birds, and crinkly balls provide great mental stimulation for your kitten. Best of all, it provides you with a great opportunity to bond with your kitten.

  • Cat harness, collar & ID Tag: Kittens are curious, they love to explore and get into all sorts of trouble. Be sure you get a collar and ID Tag made for your kitten in case they decide to venture too far from home.

  • Kitten Food! Dry & Moist: One of the biggest mistake new cat owners make is that they may not feed their new kitten appropriate kitten food.
    Kittens have very special dietary requirements, kittens almost triple in weight within their first few months of life. So, you need to make sure you provide a high quality, high energy food.
    Kittens should have a combination of both wet and dry food. This is because wet food provides hydration, vitamins, and protein.
    Here’s what you should look for when purchasing quality kitten food:

    • High protein content
    • At least 520 kcal or more per cup
    • Vitamins and mineral
    • Antioxidant complex
    • EPA and DHA for brain and eye development

Kitten Vaccinations

Like all newborn babies, kittens are born with a poor immune system. This means that a new kitten can be at risk for various viral & bacterial diseases.
Your kittens first vaccinations are crucial as they ensure your kitten has a good concentration of antibodies to protect them from a specific disease.
In Australia, kittens are often given a vaccine set known as FCRVP. Your kitten will receive their first vaccine at 8 weeks of age.  Then they will receive two more vaccines every 4 weeks.

For example, your kitten’s vaccine schedule might look like this:

  • 1st vaccine at 8 weeks of age

  • 2nd vaccine at 12 weeks of age

  • 3rd vaccine at 16 weeks of age

After 16 weeks of age, your cat will be given a booster vaccine annually in order to protect them from illnesses.

What Do Vaccinations Protect Your Kitten For?

FCRVP is a set of core vaccines that protect your kitty against the following illnesses:

  • Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis

  • Feline Calicivirus

  • Feline Panleukopenia

However, in Australia your veterinarian may recommend other non-core vaccinations. This includes vaccinating your cat against:

  • Feline leukaemia virus

  • Chlamydophila psittaci

  • Bordetella bronchiseptica

  • Deline immunodeficiency virus

  • Feline Infectious Peritonitis

  • Rabies

Kitten Insurance Do I need it?

Kittens are a long-term commitment. It’s important to remember that sometimes emergencies happen and so as pet owners, we need to be prepared for all the vet bills we may have to pay.

It is important to invest in pet insurance so that your beloved furbabies stay well protected. Depending on your cats breed and various other factors, Cat Insurance can cost anywhere from $20 to $40 per month. However, this is just an estimate. We highly recommend that you get a free pet insurance quote to see what plan best suits you.

Common Health Problems In Kittens

When adopting your first kitten you may encounter few medical problems during your first year. While it is important to remember that if you are concerned with any medical problem, you should contact your veterinarian.  Remember, it’s important to never self-diagnose your kitten as this can be very dangerous.

  • Diarrhea

    Diarrhea is common in kitten transitioning onto new food and solid food. Kittens also tend to have a weaker gastrointestinal system.

    Is this an emergency? Possibly!  Diarrhea can indeed require hospitalization as it can cause severe dehydration in kittens. Diarrhea in kittens may occur as a symptom of parasitic infection or toxin ingestion. So, if your kitten’s diarrhea runs for longer than 24 hours you will need to take them to the vet ASAP.

  • Respiratory issues

    Feline upper respiratory infection(URI) tends to affect a significant number of kittens. The cause of URI often occurs as a result of viral infection. Kittens with respiratory infection often develop symptoms such as wheezing, sneezing, coughing, congestion, runny nose and fevers.

    Is this an emergency? It’s not an emergency but it does require medical attention ASAP. The moment you recognize these symptoms you should make an appointment with your vet.

  • Intestinal Parasites

    Kittens need to be dewormed the moment they are 6 weeks of age. Kittens are very susceptible to intestinal parasites. While it’s quite normal for adult cats to have a few intestinal parasites. When kittens have parasites it can be fatal to their health. Certain parasites like roundworms tend to have a prevalence of 25% to 75% in kittens. Kittens with intestinal worms may show symptoms like loss of appetite, lethargy, diarrhea, and vomiting.

    Is this an emergency? It depends on your case. If you know your kitten has never been dewormed then you should book an appointment with your vet as early as possible.

    If clinical signs such as diarrhea and vomiting persist for longer than 24 hours, then this is urgent. You will need to take your kitten to the vet ASAP as these issues can result in dehydration which is fata

Costs of Owning A Cat

When you get a kitten you’re committing to at least 16 to 20 years of care. Here we have created a brief list of the yearly expenses you may have to spend on your cat

The cost of owning a cat can cost up to $1,722 per year.

One-time expenses

On-going expenses

Owning a kitten can be a rewarding experience for anyone looking for companionship. However, it’s important to do your research to see if a kitten would be the right pet for you.

How To Choose The Right Kitten

If you’re looking to add a four-legged friend to your household, congrats! You will have a lifelong companion to share great moments with, not to mention lifelong loving. Now that you’ve made the decision, there are still some other things you have to decide on, the first one being if you want a mixed breed or a pedigree kitten.

Differences between
mixed breed and pedigree

A mixed breed, also known as “moggy,” is a cat of unknown origin. Their genealogy information hasn’t been collected and there are no official written documents of their ancestry. A pedigree cat, on the other hand, is a cat whose genetic information has been thoroughly studied and there are written documents detailing it.

Although all cats have the potential to be great life companions, it is necessary to know the pros and cons of choosing a mixed breed or a pedigree kitten in order to make an informed decision.

Differences between
mixed breed and pedigree

A mixed breed, also known as “moggy,” is a cat of unknown origin. Their genealogy information hasn’t been collected and there are no official written documents of their ancestry. A pedigree cat, on the other hand, is a cat whose genetic information has been thoroughly studied and there are written documents detailing it.

Although all cats have the potential to be great life companions, it is necessary to know the pros and cons of choosing a mixed breed or a pedigree kitten in order to make an informed decision.

Pros of adopting a mixed breed

The first advantage to choosing a mixed breed cat is the opportunity to give them a loving home. A lot of mixed breed cats are living in shelters or on the street, and adopting one would mean you’re making an animal’s life infinitely better.
Secondly, they are usually much cheaper to purchase (if not free when adopted from a respectable animal shelter) when compared to pedigree cats.
Thirdly, mixed breed cats are less likely to develop genetic conditions because of their wide and varied genetic pool. Although problems the parents have may be passed down to the kittens, the owner shouldn’t be too worried about underlying genetic conditions.

Cons of adopting a mixed breed

The disadvantages of adopting a mixed breed are not many.
Since they come in various colors and types of coating, there is no way of knowing for sure what a mixed breed cat’s offspring will look like — therefore the owner can’t control the look of the cat.
Another downside of adopting one of these cats is that it is impossible to determine a kitten’s temperament when it grows up.

Pros of adopting a pedigree

One of the pros of adopting a pedigree cat is the predictability of their temperament. Because they’ve been bred to have the best behavioural traits, it is likely that it will be a well-behaved cat with a set personality, especially if the parents show these characteristics.
The owner can also choose what they want their cat to look like — short- or long-haired, large or small, and even color and coating.
Finally, pedigree certificates inform the owner of potential health problems so that they are prepared to face any issues if they arise.

Cons of adopting a pedigree

Having a pedigree cat also comes with its cons. Because they’ve been bred selectively, their gene pool is not diverse which makes them more susceptible to predisposed genetic conditions or health problems. These cats can be extremely expensive and have really long waiting lists for some of the most sought-after breeds.

Pros of adopting a pedigree

One of the pros of adopting a pedigree cat is the predictability of their temperament. Because they’ve been bred to have the best behavioural traits, it is likely that it will be a well-behaved cat with a set personality, especially if the parents show these characteristics.
The owner can also choose what they want their cat to look like — short- or long-haired, large or small, and even color and coating.
Finally, pedigree certificates inform the owner of potential health problems so that they are prepared to face any issues if they arise.

Cons of adopting a pedigree

Having a pedigree cat also comes with its cons. Because they’ve been bred selectively, their gene pool is not diverse which makes them more susceptible to predisposed genetic conditions or health problems. These cats can be extremely expensive and have really long waiting lists for some of the most sought-after breeds.

Picking the right cat for you

  • After you have an idea of what temperament you want your cat to have — independent or super-talkative and friendly, — it is time to actually pick up the cat from a breeder or animal shelter.

  • When choosing which kitten to take home with you, it is important to ponder their personality. Most of the time when you visit a shelter or a certified breeder, you will be able to see the kitten interacting with their siblings or friends that are around. Paying attention to how they act around others and making your decision based on your observations is a fool-proof way of ensuring you’re picking the right kitten for you.

  • If you have young children, look for cats that are playful and confident. They will most likely be comfortable in an environment where children are, and will often times come out to play and interact. If a kitten is well-socialized (a crucial trait in a cat), they should be comfortable and unafraid of your presence when you get down on the floor with them. Try playing with the kittens! Well-socialized and amicable cats will be enticed by your hand movements and try to join in on the fun. Finally, after having spent some time with the cats, try picking them up. It is normal for them to squirm a little, but hissing or biting can be warning signs that something is wrong.

Developmental stages of kittens

Kittens will develop their sensory skills rapidly in the first three weeks.

  • First, they will respond to sounds; then, by the second week, they will open their eyes; and by the third week they have a well-developed sense of smell and can spot their mothers easily. A kitten is expected to start playing and interacting with their littermates by the fourth week, and will soon start developing predatory behaviors, such as catching “prey,” stalking, and pouncing.

  • For optimal development of a kitten’s brain, they should be handled for between half-an-hour and an hour a day during the first seven weeks of life. This will ensure that the kitten responds well to humans, be more playful, and more intelligent in the future.

  • In the period ranging between the seventh and fourteenth week, the kitten should have access to a litter box and to a scratching post, as they will start learning how to use them. There should also be a role model cat present in the household for optimal adaptation to life with other pets.

  • Between the third and sixth month of life, cats start to become aware of hierarchies around them and start inserting themselves into the ranks. It is also around this time when sexual maturity is achieved if the cat has not been neutered or spayed. Territorial markings such as urine spraying are to be expected, as well as other behaviors driven by sex hormones. It is recommended to get your cat spayed or neutered by six months of age to avoid unpleasant behavioural side-effects of sexual hormones.

  • Physical, emotional, and mental maturity are reached between the sixth and eighteen months of age. As this period spans adolescence to early adulthood, it is not uncommon to witness changes in the cat’s behaviour. The growing kitten can sever bonds with some people (or animals) and develop a particular affinity to others. Positive reinforcement can be used to attenuate the changing social preferences, but more often than not, these newly-established bonds will be life-long.

Kitten socialization

It is extremely important to socialize a kitten, as they will respond better to changes in their environment. If a kitten is well socialized from a young age, they will interact better with other members of the family, such as kids, adults, cats, or dogs.

When and how to socialize a kitten

The optimal socialization window for kittens is from two to seven weeks of age, although this period can be extended up to the fourteenth week. It is during this time frame that the cat is most welcoming of new experiences.
During the socialization training, it is helpful to let your cat be handled by different people and touched in different places, such as the ears, paws, and belly. You should also expose your cat to new people, new animals, and to new sights and sounds. This combination of new experiences and positive reinforcement using treats and other rewards will increase the chances of the kitten growing up to be a confident and well-balanced cat.
Think of what elements of your life your cat will be likely to encounter over the fifteen years of their life. If you have children or are thinking about having children in the future, it is beneficial to expose the cat to them in a positive matter so that no problems arise in the future.

Kittens and children

Children need as much training as a kitten does, as they’re notorious for looking at a cute animal and seeing not a living, breathing animal, but a stuffed teddy bear. Explain to your children that pulling and tugging the kitten’s tail, whiskers, paws, or any other part of their body is not allowed.
Establish a time and place for your children to interact with the cat during the first few weeks. Kittens need time and space to be alone so they can acclimate to a new environment and not be constantly stressed out. Having children run after a scared cat will only increase the odds of having an untrusting animal.

Kittens and other animals

One important thing to consider before getting a cat if you’re already a dog owner is to assess if they will try to chase or manhandle a smaller creature such as a kitten. If so, it is best not to get a cat. If you think your dog will behave, slowly introduce them as described below.
Firstly, you should set up an isolated room for the new kitten with a food and water bowl, a scratching post, a litter box, and toys. Despite it being isolated, make sure your other pets can smell the kitten. Then, let them see each other, and finally allow them to be together under adult supervision. It is important to do this slowly and to halt any progress if any of the pets are growling or hissing, as not doing so could stress out the new kitten.

The Importance of Physical Exercise

It is no secret that cats love to sleep and to rest. However, it is pretty common for a cat to be obese, which comes with several health problems such as arthritis and diabetes. To avoid these nasty diseases, you should encourage your cat to exercise every day.
If your cat has the ability to go outside, then their needs will be met while they’re roaming around and playing on their own. On the other hand, if you live in an apartment and your cat doesn’t get to enjoy the greater outdoors, you have to take up the role of coach. Use toys to encourage them to start moving, buy a cat tree so that they can climb all the way to the top, or simply throw a treat at them so they have to run after it.
Caring for a cat is not particularly difficult, but future and expecting owners must be informed about what it takes to give a cat a great quality of life, as well as what to expect from this partnership.

FAQs of Kitten Care

Absolutely! While it will take some time and patience, you can train your cat to obey several commands. You can train your cat to use the litter box, to come when you call them, to allow to be handled by the vet, and to do a number of party tricks. As soon as your cat performs the desired action, reward them with their favorite special trick. Keep practicing, encouraging positive behaviour, and remember not to overwork and stress your kitten!

Kittens are usually already eating solid food by eight weeks of age, as the weaning process starts on the fourth week. After this period, although they might still enjoy it, they do not need to drink milk. If you want to treat them with milk, however, never give them cow’s milk. You can buy specially processed milk for cats at many local groceries and pet stores.

Cuddly mothers tend to raise cuddly kittens, although it is not certain if this is an acquired behavior or a genetic predisposition. However, early handling by humans is a crucial part of how a kitten’s personality develops — they tend to be more affectionate if handled positively between three and seven months of life.

Keeping calm around your kitten, not staring at them intensely, and rubbing them in the places they like best are necessary steps to raise a kitty to be cuddly. It is also important to give them time and not to force affection, as this will alienate them. Be patient, and if you follow these instructions you will be cuddling with your four-legged best friend on the couch before you know it.

It is not recommended to leave a kitten younger than twelve weeks alone for more than five hours a day, while kittens between four and six months can tolerate being alone for up to seven hours — but not longer. Older cats, on the other hand, should not be left alone for longer than twenty-four hours.

You can determine a kitten’s age by examining some of their features.

If a kitten still has their eyes closed, they are probably younger than ten days of age.

If they are already walking and playing, it is very likely that they’re older than four-weeks-old.

If the kitten is in good body condition, you can safely say that their weight in pounds corresponds to their age in months. If they weigh two pounds, the kitten is eight weeks. Note that this trick only works until the cat has reached five months of age, as they will gain weight at a steady rate.

If you can already spot adult incisor teeth, the cat is older than four months; if you spot adult canines, premolars, and molars, then you’re dealing with a cat at least six-months-old. If they already have all their adult teeth present, then they are older than seven months. These parameters only apply to normal, healthy cats.

If you notice sexual-maturity behavior, such as loud meowing and urine spraying, then your kitty should be older than four-months-old, as this is when they reach sexual maturity.

Cats are notorious for carrying out their hygiene on their own through frequent licking. However, sometimes cats might need some help in this department. Be it because they made a mess playing outside or in the litter box, or because they’re dealing with nasty skin conditions, there comes a time when the owner will need to help them get clean again. On average, indoor cats are only bathed once or twice a year.

Because cats don’t have enough fat reserves to keep their body temperature in check, it can be dangerous to give a kitten a bath — not to mention that they’re not fans of it and may try to scratch and bite. You should ask your veterinary before you decide to give them a bath, and if you get the green light, you may do so.

Remember to start slow, introducing a damp towel before any water is added to the equation, be patient, use kitten-friendly shampoo, and be sure to dry them after you’re done.

Got a question about your kitten? Do you have a question about kitten insurance? Let us know!

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Got a question about your kitten? Do you have a question about kitten insurance? Let us know!

GET A QUOTE