Congratulations on your new kitten! Getting a kitten is an exciting time for everyone in the family, but you may have a lot of questions. We hope this page will help answer some of them, but if you are unsure about any aspect of your kitten’s care, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Coming to a new home can be a stressful time for a new kitten. They should be given plenty of time to adjust to their new surroundings. They should have a warm bed that they can retreat to when they want to as well as a litter tray and food bowl.
You should make sure that all windows and doors are closed. It is also sensible to block off any fireplaces so your kitten doesn’t choose to hide in them!
Introduction to members of the household should be gradual. Children should be encouraged to sit on the floor and wait for the kitten to come to them. The kitten should be allowed to stop playing and go for a rest when he/she wants to!
Kittens should not be left unattended with any other pets in the household until they are well established. Introductions should be gradual. A pen in which to keep your kitten contained while allowing any other household pets to sniff the new addition and get used to them but with the safety of the pen between them can be helpful.
Vaccinations are given against Feline Leukaemia Virus, two causes of respiratory infections (Feline Calicivirus, Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis) and Feline Panleucopaenia (which can cause gastrointestinal signs as well as other disease). Kittens require two vaccinations initially as the antibodies that they acquire in their mother’s milk can interfere with the vaccination. The first vaccine is generally given at nine weeks of age and the second vaccine 3-4 weeks later.
If a kitten is already infected with Feline Leukaemia Virus at the time of vaccination (which is commonly asymptomatic at this stage) the vaccination will not prevent the virus causing clinical signs at a later date. Blood tests are available to test for FeLV infection.
Kittens can go out a week after their second vaccination when their levels of immunity should be high enough to protect them from disease. However, many owners prefer to keep their kitten indoors until they are neutered.
Roundworms are very prevalent in kittens and can be passed to the kitten in the mother’s milk. Kittens are often wormed with the breeder but still generally require more doses of worming.
It is especially important to worm kittens that are in contact with young children as certain types of roundworm are zoonotic, which means they can cause disease in humans; children are particularly susceptible.
We recommend using Stronghold at the time of your kitten’s first vaccination. This is a spot on treatment which treats roundworm, as well as a selection of skin parasites and also ear mites.
Kittens may also carry tapeworms. These are most commonly picked up through ingestion of fleas and also from hunting. These can sometimes be seen in the faeces as segments of the worm are shed. These segments have the appearance of rice grains.
At the time of the second vaccination we recommend use of Milbemax which is a combined wormer meaning that it treats both roundworm and tapeworm infestations.
Provided there are no problems we then recommend worming with Milbemax every three months.
Kittens can be infected with other parasites such as fleas and mites (particularly ear mites). Stronghold (see above) treats these infestations.
We can ID chip your kitten at any time, though tend not to advise doing so at the first vaccination. It is normally done at the time of the second vaccination or when your kitten is anaesthetised for neutering.
It is important to feed your kitten a good quality balanced complete diet. Provided this is fed your kitten should not need any supplements. Dry foods are generally recommended. Follow the instructions on the packet regarding how much to feed. Remember these are guidelines only and vary between individuals. Kittens should be fed little and often as they have small stomachs. Up to 12 weeks of age they generally require four feeds per day, up to six months three meals per day and from six months onwards two meals per day. Some owners prefer to feed their cats ad lib which means that they always have food available. If you are concerned about feeding, contact your vet.
Feeding cow’s milk should be avoided as this can cause diarrhoea in cats.
If you decide to change your kitten’s diet from what they have been fed with the breeder this should be done gradually as sudden food changes can lead to diarrhoea.
Kittens generally learn to use a litter tray by copying their mother. In their new home you may need to show them where the litter tray is. It often helps to place the kitten in their tray after he/she wakes from a sleep or after a meal or if he/she is showing behaviours suggestive of needing to go such as sniffing, scratching or crouching.
The litter tray should be filled with cat litter and cleaned regularly as cats are often reluctant to use the tray when it is dirty. Take care to use a suitable cleaning product as some products (particularly those that go cloudy when mixed with water) are toxic to cats. Some cats also prefer a covered litter tray to give them more privacy! The tray should be placed in a quiet corner away from food and water bowls as cats tend not to like to use a tray that is near food.
If you want your kitten to toilet outdoors the tray should be gradually moved towards the door when your kitten is ready to start going outside. Placing some cat litter on a well dug area of soil in the garden can help.
Neutering is generally performed from four months of age. For more information please see Neutering.
We hope you have found this information useful, but remember, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us for advice.