Information about your new kitten
Congratulations on your new kitten!
To help you get the most enjoyment from your new family member we have provided some information on the following topics:
- Flea treatment
- Worm treatment
- Toilet training
Desexing (Spaying / Castration)
Female cats that are spayed will not be able to produce unwanted kittens and male cats will not have the desire to go hunting and fighting. Desexing can also have a positive effect on territorial behaviour problems such as urine marking and spraying in the house. A large percentage of male cats that are not desexed will carry the Feline Aids Virus. Desexing can be done from around 6 months of age. More info →
Like children have vaccinations to protect them from diseases, cats have vaccinations too.
The main vaccination protects against Feline Calicivirus, Rhinotracheitis Virus (both involved in “Snuffles” or “cat ‘flu”) and against Feline Enteritis. This vaccine is required annually for cats who board at catteries. This is one initial vaccine with a booster three weeks later.
The second vaccination is to protect against Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). This is a virus similar to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), although it cannot be passed from animal to human. It is a potentially fatal viral disease that interferes with the immune system of the cat, and it is becoming increasingly more prevalent in the East Auckland area. This is one initial vaccine with 2 booster vaccines 3 weeks apart. An annual booster is necessary to maintain protection.
An additional vaccine protects against Feline Leukaemia virus. While the full prevalence of the virus in NZ is not established, overseas in the UK, Europe and Asia over 10% of the cat population are infected. The virus causes suppression of the immune system so your cat is more susceptible to other diseases, and it also causes two types of cancer.
We recommend having your kitten microchipped for the same reasons dogs are microchipped. If your cat gets lost and is picked up by and taken to the SPCA or a local vet clinic, they can be scanned instantly and you will be contacted virtually straight away. The microchip is about the size of a grain of rice so it does have to pass through a larger needle. We can do this while the cat is awake but if you prefer (or the cat is too wriggly!) we can do this while they are asleep for the desexing surgery.
There are many commercially prepared cat foods available. Consider the following points when deciding what to feed:
- Wet vs dry food: Wet food may be easier for very small kittens to eat initially, however it will go stale quickly if left in the bowl for any length of time. Dry food will last longer if left out, it provides some cleaning action on the teeth when being eaten and it is more cost effective than wet food.
- Kitten vs adult cat food: While kittens are growing they have different nutritional requirements than adult cats and so it it important for them to be on a kitten diet. Most reputable pet food brands produce a kitten formula as well as an adult formula.
- Commercial vs home-prepared food: Kittens need a specific amount of calcium in their diet for bone growth. Too much or too little calcium will cause significant health problems for them. Commercially prepared foods from reputable pet food brands will be correctly balanced for all required nutrients. Unfortunately it is near impossible to measure these amounts correctly in home-prepared food.
It is easier to prevent a flea problem than to deal with a flea population explosion on your kitten and in the house. Even in winter heated houses in Auckland will allow fleas to survive and breed, so year round flea treatment may be needed.
There are many flea treatments on the market and they come under one of the following headings:
- Sprays – Effective against fleas if used properly though vary between brands, are frequently not tolerated well by cats (hate sound, will froth at mouth after grooming), applied over entire body.
- Neck applications – Few drops of liquid applied to back of neck, easy to apply & applied monthly, has a wider range of effect (Advantage & Frontline only). We recommend Advantage & Frontline, which are highly effective, kill adult fleas on cat and flea larvae in environment.
- Topical flea and wormer- Advocate & Revolution are two leading multi treatments that are also applied to the back of the neck. They not only kill fleas, but also have a worm treatment included, which can by-pass having to give your cat a worm tablet if done regularly. They also contain ear mite treatment.
- Flea collars, powders and shampoos – These products, while less expensive, are not usually very effective and have been superceded by superior products.
- Please talk to your friendly Vet Nurse for more information on any of the flea treatments mentioned, so we can make sure you purchase the treatment most suited to your cats needs.
Cats can be infected by a number of different types of worms. These include roundworms, hookworms, tapeworm. (Ringworm is in fact NOT a worm, but a fungal skin infection).
Your cat needs regular worm treatment – as a kitten it should be treated fortnightly until 12 weeks old, then as an adult, treated every 3 to 6 months.
Tapeworms are often seen as small “grains of rice” around the anal area. These worms cycle through fleas so are an indication that your cat is likely to need flea treatment.
Fluffy kittens can look very cute when they are small but as they grow and their coat fills out, that lovely long thick hair can become a nightmare of knots if the cat is not groomed regularly. If you can get your cat accustomed to being combed while it is a kitten, it can make the job much easier and more pleasant when the cat is fully grown. Matted knotty coats are often unsightly and smelly, and, most importantly, can be uncomfortable or painful for the cat.
Most kittens will instinctively use a litter tray. They do not like using a litter tray that is too dirty, so it is better to use a smaller amount of litter at a time and change more frequently.
If you want them to begin toileting outside, move the litter tray gradually closer to the door. Do this every 2nd or 3rd day, and if possible put the tray on the back porch or deck for a few days with soil or bark from the garden to give the kitten the idea that the garden is the appropriate place to go.
If you are having problems, putting the litter tray in the garden for a while may help.
Pet insurance is something to seriously consider for your kitten. Depending on your chosen policy, pet insurance can help cover the costs if something unexpected was to happen to your kitten and some policies cover vaccinations and consultations for minor issues.
Also we can off you 4 weeks free insurance cover with Petplan to get you started.
If you have any concerns or queries, please do not hesitate to contact us.