raise a kitten
Taking on a kitten is an expensive investment, you need to make sure you’re not only prepared for the responsibility of a kitten, but can also afford medical care and perhaps insurance.
Initial vaccinations now cost around £45, microchipping around £20 and neutering around £28 for a male and £37 for a bitch, not to mention deworming and flea treatments.
You may want to consider a slightly older kitten or cat from a charity like the RSPCA. They neuter and vaccinate their cats before they are ready to be rehomed.
When choosing a kitten, there are many factors to think about: male or female, pedigree or no pedigree, will she be indoors or outdoors, how old will she be when you get her, and will she get along with your other animals. Visit the kitten while he is still with his mother, checking for signs of discharge from the eyes, ears, and bottom. The coat must be in good condition and the eyes bright. The kitty needs to be active and alert and although the tiniest (little) one may look cute, it may suffer from health problems.
Very young kitties often suffer broken legs because they have a habit of stepping on their feet due to their natural curiosity! Socialization Kittens that leave their mothers at a very young age may develop socialization problems later on, ideally kittens should be at least 8 weeks old (preferably 12) before leaving their mother. The kittens learn from the mother about social interactions between cats and humans.
You should always see kittens with their mother, this will also give you an indication of the mother’s temperament (which can be passed down genetically). Kittens from a pet store or breeder who have had little human contact can also develop behavior problems. Without this early human-cat contact, they can become fearful or mistrustful of humans and therefore become very independent. This can lead to a kitten with aggression problems.
The first weeks (up to 12 weeks of life) of your kitten’s life are very important and they should be allowed to meet as many different people, encounter different environments and situations as possible. This will decrease the chance that you will have a cat with behavior problems such as nervousness. If you have an enclosed garden, let your kitty explore it. Many people worry about this before the cat is fully vaccinated. However, if you take precautions, like checking for other cat feces and maybe even putting your kitty in a harness so she can control where she goes, then there shouldn’t be a problem.
It is a decision that only the owner can make, but if the kitten is allowed out it must be supervised at all times.
The three diseases your kitty should be vaccinated against are: feline enteritis, cat flu, and feline leukemia virus (FeLV). Typically, your kitten will be vaccinated at 9 weeks and receive a second shot at 12 weeks. After which your cat will be covered a week later and you can go outside. Your vet will probably recommend a yearly booster injection, however there is now much controversy as to whether this is necessary. There are few studies available in books to read about this, although there is a lot of information on the net.
There doesn’t seem to be any scientific data to really support giving boosters every year and one of the strongest arguments from Dr. Rogers (DVM) found at http://www.critterfixer.com suggests cats don’t need vaccination annual. FeLV because after they are one year old they develop what is known as age-related immunity. It must be emphasized that the decision to vaccinate your cat annually is a personal opinion of the owner and we cannot advise you in any way. It is worth considering that insurance companies may not pay for cats that are not fully vaccinated and catteries may not accept them.
If you are thinking of traveling abroad with your cat (cats are very territorial animals and can easily become stressed by things like travel), ask your vet about other vaccinations that may be necessary.
The worms can be passed from the mother, or they can be passed to your cat from mice and birds she hunts. There are two types of worms that a cat can suffer from, they can be passed from mother to kittens and if left untreated they can seriously deteriorate the health of the cat/kittens and even cause death. Tape worms break off in segments and resemble grains of rice. Roundworms look like thin pieces of string. There are many remedies on the market but it is always best to have your vet recommend one because the amount given depends on the age and weight of the cat; Pet store dewormers are not always completely reliable and efficient. Regular deworming is recommended until your kitten is 6 months old.
If you’re lucky, your kitty will already be potty trained. Their mother can teach them this, although kittens taken from their mother too soon may lose learning about hygiene and social skills. You should choose a shallow litter tray so that small kittens won’t have a hard time using it. Ask the breeder what type of cat litter they used, as there is a wide variety available and your kitty may already be used to a certain type. However, if your kitty is not trained, it is very easy to do so. After the kitten has eaten, gently place it on the tray, hold its paws and scratch the sands. Over time, the kitten should learn to do this on its own. However, if there is an accident, don’t yell (this encourages them to go to the bathroom on the sly when you’re not around!). If it’s feces, pick it up and put it in the litter tray and show it to your kitty.
If your kitty urinates persistently in the same spot, try moving the litter box to that area for a few days and scrubbing the floor with an ammonia-free cleaner (ammonia smells like cat urine and may still mark that place). Some cats prefer to urinate and poop in separate litter trays, so two may be necessary (especially when they are young and may get confused where the tray is). Keep the tray away from your food. Always keep the tray as clean as possible. If it is dirty, cats tend to ‘take it’ and this can lead to urinary problems such as cystitis.
When a cat is neutered it is called sterilization while a male is neutered it is called castration. A responsible pet owner should have their cat neutered to avoid unwanted kittens. Cats can be neutered from 6 months of age, they can also get pregnant from this age and female cats can go into heat every 4-5 weeks in spring and summer, that’s a lot of kitties!
FACT: Most cats that die on the roads are un-neutered male cats, neutering will prevent your cat from wandering around, fighting so much, and spraying urine in your house! (The Kitten Guide, Fall/Winter 2001, Guidefigure Marketing).
Range of diets:
Choosing a diet for your cat can be confusing. There are many different diets available for kittens, adult cats, indoor cats, outdoor cats, senior cats, and a whole range of diets for cats with conditions such as kidney failure.
Many new diets are being used to control disease, however, if you are fed a good diet to start with, you will help avoid disease and future visits to your vet!
Many animal health professionals are now realizing that feeding an animal a poor quality diet for a lifetime is one of the major contributing factors in causing health problems!
These are not suitable for kittens or cats. Cats must obtain their protein from an animal source to survive successfully. On a vegetarian diet, they are at risk of taurine, arginine, tryptophan, lysine, and vitamin A deficiency. A cat’s liver has a limited ability to produce the amino acid Taurine. It is found in animal tissues but not in plant material, so vegetarian diets do not provide sufficient amounts of this nutrient. A deficiency causes a visual impairment that can cause the cat to bump into things, fail to reproduce successfully, and suffer from heart disease.