Adopted a new kitten or considering adopting a new kitten?
Congratulations on adopting your newest best friend. Kittens are energetic, cute, playful, and so funny. But they can be a handful!
All kittens (and cats) should see a veterinarian once adopted! Your new kitten will need many vaccines and check ups to ensure he is growing well, and making all those important kitten mile stones. The first vaccine he is most likely to receive is called the FVRCP vaccine. This vaccine, which goes in the nose rather than by injection, covers Herpesvirus, Calicivirus, and Panleukopeina (distemper) viruses. This vaccine will be boosted multiple times to ensure adequate protection. You kitten will also need his rabies vaccine, which is required by law. Cats will need this vaccine boostered every year. Some kittens also should receive the FeLV (feline leukemia) vaccine. Please ask your veterinarian if this is right for your cat.
Cats, just like dogs, also need a few tests done! The first is the FeLV/FIV tests. These are diseases which lead to immunodeficiency, similar to human HIV. Kittens may be exposed to these diseases through bites, scratches, and from their mothers. We recommend this test at 6 months of age. For indoor cats, we only need to test once. If your cat goes outdoors, even rarely, we recommend annual testing.
We also always test a fecal sample in new kittens, to ensure that they are not carrying any parasites that can be transmitted to you, or any other pet in the household. Many veterinarians will deworm kittens at their vaccine visits, just to be safe. We also recommend using a heartworm and intestinal parasite preventive, year round, even in indoor cats (e.g. Revolution Plus, Advantage Multi, Bravecto Plus, etc.). Using a monthly preventive in your cat will ensure they do not get infected. Even indoor cats can and do get parasites, from the bottoms of our shoes, from mosquitos in your home, and even from catching mice. Heartworm is not a common disease in cats, but it is always fatal.
At around six months old, your kitten will need to be spayed or neutered. We require blood work here to ensure your kitten is safe for anesthesia, and this blood work also gives us a baseline for future reference. We recommend neutering or spaying your cat as this reduces the chances of your cat from spraying or marking with urine, wandering from home, reproductive cancer, and helps reduce the risk of contributing to pet overpopulation!
Kittens are sharp!
Kittens are playful, and are not really sure how to play with humans at a young age. Training your cat not to bite or scratch, even in play, is instrumental to forming a strong bond with you. Every time your new friend uses her claws with you, get up and walk away. They only associate punishment with an action for 30 seconds to about two minutes. Ignore her for this time, and then try to play with her with a toy after this! Cats are not very good at learning via ‘no’ and punishment, but do best with rewards. Be sure to praise your kitten for playing with appropriate toys as often as you can!
But what about my furniture? It is very natural for a cat to want to scratch something like a couch. It is a great way to stretch their muscles, helps mark their territory (so no other cats invade their new families, of course!) and keeps their claws healthy! However, it is not great for your furniture. Be sure to have many scratching posts of many textures and varieties (carpet, cardboard, yarn). Again, be sure to praise her for scratching the posts! Feliway, a pheromone spray, can help reduce scratching used to mark territory. You can also trim her nails, to keep them dull and help her manage them. Ask your veterinarian how! Declawing your cat is rarely the answer; it may be indicated in a few rare cases, but it does involve amputation of the fingers. Talk to your veterinarian about more information.
Keeping your kitten occupied
Kittens are very energetic. Playing with them in small, frequent bouts will help them sleep through the night. They will likely adjust to your sleep schedule, but it does take a lot of time (think about being a night owl yourself and suddenly having to be at work at 5:00 am every morning! It would take you some time, too). It also will help keep them from using your body as a toy.
You can also make them work for their food! Food based toys are a lovely way to prevent overeating and keeps them busy. Cats can and will learn to use puzzle toys. Many cats (not kittens, but adult cats) over eat and end up overweight– be sure to talk to your veterinarian about your cat’s ideal weight. As an adult, the average cat only needs 1/2 cup of dry food per day, or 2 cans of canned food.
If a kitten gets bored, he will try to find new toys. Please beware of electrical cords, ribbons, plants, string, tinsel, and other objects. If it can fit in his mouth, he may try to eat it. Some kittens even need surgery to have the item removed!
At All Creatures, we LOVE kittens– we cannot wait to meet your new baby!