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Crucial care for curious cats

Posted: Friday, November 2, 2012 at 1:45:05 PM EST by Cam Day

Smitten with Kittens

Smitten with KittensThey are cute, cuddly, fuzzy, furry little buzz-balls. Kittens are a delight and a joy, but they do need proper care. As there are lots of kittens around at the moment, let's go through the basics of kitten care to make sure you're doing all that is necessary for your purring puss. Each topic listed, will be dealt with in this column in greater detail over the next few weeks.

Vaccinations

Your kitten should be vaccinated against the disease Feline Enteritis, and for infections caused by the Feline Rhinotracheitis virus and the Feline Calicivirus. The latter two infections cause Cat Flu. You can also have it vaccinated against Feline Leukaemia.

The first injections are due at six to eight weeks of age. I recommend that it be done again at three months of age, and that the cat flu vaccinations be repeated, again, at four months of age.

Vaccination schedules vary considerably, so please seek the advice of your veterinarian.

Worming

It is common for a kitten to be infected with hookworms and roundworms. These worms are dangerous and can cause bowel disease, anaemia and even death. Tapeworms can also be a problem and, although these worms are not usually as dangerous, your kitten is better off without them.

Your veterinarian will advise on a reliable wormer, but I advise using a medication that includes the word allwormer. This word shows that the medication will deal with all worms that your kitten can suffer from.

Reinfestation with worms is common. Therefore, I suggest you worm your kitten every two weeks until it is three months of age, then every month until it is six months of age and after that every three months.

Heartworm

We now recognise heartworm disease as a problem for cats. It is extremely difficult to diagnose and even more difficult to treat. If you want to do the best for your kitten, then you should put him or her onto a monthly heartworm preventive.

Ask your veterinarian to discuss this with you when you have your kitten vaccinated.

Coat Care

Regular brushing of your kitten's coat will not only keep it looking slick but will also prevent tangles developing if it has long hair. For Persians and similarSmitten with Kittens long haired cats, daily brushing is essential.

Personally, I use a Zoom Groom to keep my cats' coats looking good. A Zoom Groom is a nylon grooming mitt with soft, gentle teeth that will massage your cat's coat and remove dead hair and tangles. Zoom Grooms are available from veterinarians and pet shops.

Skin infections are sometimes a problem in young kittens, especially the fungal infection Ringworm. Watch for any areas of baldness or broken hair and especially if you can see a 'cigarette ash' like dandruff in the kitten's coat.

The ferocious and fearsome Aussie Flea will get your kitten hopping mad. Be sure to use a reliable flea control preparation. There are many suitable products and Advantage and Frontline can be used on kittens, but check with your veterinarian first.

Litter Tray Training

Although you may want your kitten to soil outside, it is still important that you train your kitten to use a litter tray from the start. Most responsible cat owners curfew their cats at night to prevent wildlife predation and to keep their cats safe from other evils. When inside at night, your cat will obviously need a litter tray to prevent any wee problem.

For the privacy conscious puss, you can buy litter tray hutches shop to conceal the tray.

Diet

Your kitten will be reliant on you for all the food it eats. That's a big responsibility, so you need to ensure you are feeding your cat a balanced diet.

I suggest you base the cat's diet on a reliable brand of dry or canned cat food with some fresh food, such as meat, for variety. Many cat owners are moving to the 'super-premium' dry and canned foods that are available from veterinarians and pet shops. These foods are designed for different stages of the cat's life and a specific food is available for kittens.

You should feed your kitten three to four times a day up to three months of age, reducing to twice daily by six months of age. Most cat owners will leave dry food available for their cats during the day.

Desexing

Unless you are a committed and dedicated cat breeder, it is essential that your kitten, be it male or female, is desexed by the time is it six months of age. Your cat will want to breed in spring and summer and it will actively seek likewise-inclined mates at such times. If you have not desexed your kitten, it is bound to catch you out.

 

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