some handy tips

Caring for a kitten, some handy tips!

It’s amazing when your new kitten arrives at home. Fun and games, cuddles, a cuteness overload, and a bit of a learning curve for everyone.

Your first few weeks together will establish the pattern for your cat’s behaviour and lay the foundation for an incredible friendship.

We’ll cover some of the essentials you need to care for your kitten. It’s a great starting point but remember – your local veterinarian is best placed to help you, as they know the local environment and can physically see you and your kitten should you have any concerns.

Milestones

Birth to two months

You’re most likely to adopt a cat from eight weeks, so chances are you’re already past this milestone. A lot of development happens in this first eight weeks, so if you need details, ask your veterinarian.

Two months

Vaccinations are important for a healthy kitten. The first round of vaccinations will start at 6-8 weeks.

Two to four months

Your cat’s personality will start to emerge. Connections and bonds with the family strengthen. This is a critical time to learn trust, and establish a core territory – where they feel safest. More vaccinations are due and house training starts.

Four to eight months

This is when you should consider getting your cat microchipped, spayed or neutered. Your veterinarian is the best person to advise you on the best time to do this. You can discuss this with your veterinarian during your kitten’s vaccination appointments. Six months is about the time you may start to give unsupervised access to adventures outside. The training continues (it never really stops!).

Preparing for your new arrival

It doesn’t need to be overwhelming; here is a quick checklist of the basics you will want to have available to help your kitten get settled in.

  • Cat carry case – Ideally one that opens from the top and at one end. This is less stressful for your kitten, and if there is room for your kitten to grow into it, even better.
  • A cosy bed – Something your kitten will feel safe and secure in. But cats will be cats, and you may find your kitten prefers the box that the bed came in, rather than the bed itself.
  • Litter tray – Again cats will be cats, and fortunately, they are super clean creatures and will use a litter tray (and eventually the garden once they are old enough). A litter tray and good quality clumping litter are essential for kittens, and cats with limited outdoor access. A litter tray is also highly recommended even if your cat is free to roam outside.
  • Food, and dishes for food & water – Nutrition plays a vital role in your kitten’s development. It’s a good idea to have a dedicated bowl for food and another for water.
  • Flea and worm treatment – Monthly worming is essential for kittens and should continue regularly for the cat’s life, especially if living with children, the elderly or other high-risk groups. Likewise, prevention is far better than cure when it comes to fleas, and gentle monthly dosing provides great results.
  • A cat flap – Cats are independent and adventurous, and love letting themselves out to explore the world. A cat flap will mean you don’t have to get up every time they want to go outside. There are lots of cat flap options, including flaps that respond only to your cat’s microchipkeeping other pets and animals locked out.
  • Scratching post – Cats love climbing and getting their claws out, these items could save your furniture and curtains; so the taller the better.

Toys – Cats love to play, toys give them an outlet for energy and their instincts.
It’s a great way to bond with them too.

What vaccine
does my kitten need?

Vaccinating your new kitten is vital to protect them against all manner of diseases.
It is essential that vaccinations are kept up to date, boosters are given when due and records are kept.

How often do kittens get shots?

Different vaccines protect against different diseases, and each local environment is unique – your veterinarian can advise what vaccinations are required for your cat’s lifestyle and location.
Likewise, different vaccines work in different ways, with some being administered in two or more doses, with some time in between.

Adult Vaccinations

To maintain protection, regular booster vaccinations are required. These are often administered by the veterinarian, and provide a great opportunity for the vet to give your cat a quick examination to ensure everything is okay.
Your kitten should not be allowed outside until at least a week after it has finished its first course of vaccinations, and you should avoid exposure to other animals until your kitten has been fully vaccinated.

Top tip: if you plan on putting your cat in a cattery at some point, the cattery will require your kitten's vaccination records.

Protecting your kitten and family from parasites

Parasites love to call your kitten home, both inside and out.

From birth, your kitten is an irresistibly warm and nutritious place for these unwanted pests. And Kiwi cats love hunting, grooming and roaming – their adventurous behaviour exposes them to fleas, worms and other parasites.
Your fur baby loves nothing more than to proudly bring home a wee ‘gift’ that they have caught, like a mouse or a bird, or go on adventures around the neighbourhood, in gardens and local parks – anywhere other animals have been. And this is where the problems lie. With New Zealand weather being generally warmer and wetter than other countries, and better home insulation, the flea population is active even during the cooler months.
There are many products available to help keep pests at bay, but not all are equal. We think the best solution is to treat for internal & external parasites in one gentle monthly dose; no collars, no pills and no stress for you or your cat.

Are these pests REALLY a problem?

The short answer is yes. These parasites can cause a lot of discomfort for your cat, but more seriously, they cause many different diseases, and in extreme untreated cases, can be fatal.

FLEAS

Fleas

Consistent, regular monthly dosing all year round helps you be proactive in managing the risk before it becomes a full-blown flea infestation for your pet and in your home. It can take three months or more to get an infestation under control, so prevention is definitely better than cure.

Flea Chart

Other useful tips for managing flea control in your environment

Beyond flea treatments for your pet, the following are excellent in helping control the problem:

      • Treat all animals in your household at the correct intervals, throughout the year with safe gentle monthly dosing.
      • Regular vacuuming will remove eggs and stimulate fleas to emerge from their cocoons.
      • Regularly wash pet blankets and bedding in hot water (>60 ̊C for 10 minutes).
      • Avoid untreated animals from entering your home environment.

WORMS

While you may not see as much flea activity in winter as in summer, worms don’t care about the weather at all.

If your cat is free to roam outdoors, has raw meat in its diet (like wild prey), or is in a household with kids or the elderly, then guidelines recommend a monthly worming regime.

Similarly, since cats spend up to 50% of their time grooming, they very easily ingest fleas (if they have them). Fleas are often the source of tapeworm, so monthly flea control is important too.

With easy to administer all-in-one monthly products that treat for fleas too – it’s never been easier to keep your pet happy and healthy inside and out, and your whole family safe too.

You should know:

  • The worming active ingredient in most parasite treatments ‘flush’ through a pet’s system within a day, killing all adult worms present at the time. From the day after treatment, cats and kittens can start picking up worms again from the environment or from grooming.
  • Some worms are zoonotic; This means they can pass from your kitten or cat to you or your family. Some worms lay 10,000 eggs a day and these can last for up to ten years in the environment. Monthly dosing ensures any worms in your pet can’t reach maturity and begin laying eggs which could infect your family.

TICKS, LICE & MITES

While fleas and worms are the biggies, there are other parasites that need to be protected against as well.
See below for an extensive list of parasites BROADLINE will protect your cat from.

Common Name How would my kitten
catch this parasite?
What might I notice if my kitten has this parasite? How can I protect my kitten? Can this be passed to humans?
Fleas Fleas are everywhere. Adult fleas are only 5% of the population, and the rest exist as larvae, pupae and eggs in the environment. Your kitten can catch fleas from countless places. Scratching is the obvious sign, or you may see the actual fleas themselves.  A gentle monthly flea treatment with BROADLINE can be administered all year round to prevent a flea infestation from forming in your house. It can take at least three months to resolve a flea infestation if  allowed to establish, so stopping them before they start is the best option. Fleas often bite owners of infested kittens, or cats, mostly resulting in 'itchy bites'
Roundworms This worm can be picked up from the environment, eating wild prey, or from their mums while nursing. Often you won't notice anything. You may notice diarrhoea, that your kitten isn't growing as well as you expect, or that their abdomen is swollen. You may see worms in their poo or vomit. Monthly de-worming is essential for kittens, and should continue for the pet's lifetime. BROADLINE is available in kitten and adult weight ranges. Yes. Although not common, exposure has been  associated with  serious and long lasting consequences
Tapeworms Fleas are a very common source of this worm. Other sources include eating wild prey (mice, rats, birds, slugs etc.) Most commonly, you see segments of tapeworm in your cat's poo or around the anal area of your cat. Monthly de-worming to kill tapeworms is essential if your kitten has outside access, eats raw meat or wild prey. Good, consistent monthly flea treatment with BROADLINE can prevent infection by the flea tapeworm, by controlling fleas. Yes, the flea tapeworm can pass to humans, although rare.
Hookworms   Kittens may pick this up from their mum while nursing. Other sources include eating hookworm larvae from the environment, or direct skin contact with larvae. Clinical signs vary from none to severe anaemia, gastric disturbance and even death. Monthly de-worming is essential for kittens and should continue for the pet's lifetime. BROADLINE is available in kitten and adult weight ranges.
General cleanliness is important in all areas occupied by the pet.
Yes, by skin contact with infective larvae
Lungworms This worm is picked up by a cat that eats an infected slug, snail, bird, mouse or rat, etc. Clinical signs range from mild coughing to severe breathing problems. Monthly de-worming with BROADLINE eliminates lungworm risk in cats. No
Ticks Cats can be infected when they enter tick habitats - often areas shared with livestock (sheep, cattle, goats, horses, etc.). The tick will climb up long grasses and wait for a cat to walk past, and then crawl on. You may see the tick attached to the skin of your cat or kitten. A fully fed adult tick can be as big as 9mm. We are lucky that the tick we have in NZ does not transmit disease to cats (other countries have ticks that do), but ticks can be irritating for pets. Monthly treatment with BROADLINE will help protect against ticks. Avoiding access to tick habitats is also recommended. Ticks can occasionally crawl onto humans and bite, causing irritation.
Lice Lice are spread by direct contact from other infected places, animals or objects (such as brushes or bedding). Lice can be irritating and itchy, so pets may scratch. You can see the lice themselves visibly in the pet's hair. A single treatment with BROADLINE will treat lice in cats and kittens. Regular washing of your pet's bedding and all the places they occupy helps. No - cat lice will only infect cats
Ear mites Mites spread by direct contact with other infected animals. Ear mites are more common in young animals. Head shaking and ear scratching are common signs of ear mites. Check with your veterinarian for the most appropriate treatment. Yes, although this is extremely unlikely.

Ask your vet about safe monthly dosing for worms & fleas

Settling your Kitten into it’s new home

Experiencing a brand new home

      • This can be daunting for a tiny kitten. Every kitten has a unique personality; some are shy, while others are confident. Whatever their character, you’ll want the transition to go as smoothly as possible. As a new parent you’ll want to understand how the environment impacts your kitten and make sure it will feel safe & secure at home. This will of course strengthen the bond you have with your fur baby.

For the first week or so

      • Choose a room where your kitten can adjust gradually to its new surroundings. This can also help with litter box training.

CHECKLIST

      • Potential hazards – check the room and remove anything that could become broken or dangerous, remember your kitten loves small spaces
      • Avoid rooms with full-length curtains – as kittens love to climb
      • Have a litter box in a discreet corner
      • Food & water dishes should be far away from their litter box
      • Position the bed as far away as possible from the litter box, and food & water bowls
      • Have toys available for play – even a cardboard box can go a long way
      • Scratching post – have something that you are ok with your new kitten scratching its claws on or climbing on

Kittens need their sleep when they are young, even more so than adult cats, but in between catnaps they exhibit energetic bursts of activity. Kittens love to climb, so be prepared to go to the rescue; going up is always easier than coming down.

The importance of territory

Cats are very territorial and need to feel secure within their home and comfortable within their wider territory. They often rub their cheeks on surfaces (especially your leg)– this is to rub pheromones around the places they consider ‘theirs’ and can give them a sense
of security.

Keeping your
kitten healthy with good nutrition

Just like people, food plays a vital role in a kitten’s health. The first year of your kitten’s life is the most important for growth and development. The right food will help them grow strong bones and muscles, and aid in eye and brain development.
Come training time, this will be crucial.

Feline nutritional science has made great advances in recent years. Commercial foods are now available to supply perfectly balanced diets depending on your cat’s age and lifestyle. From kittens through to seniors, and even specialty diets for cats with particular diseases. Long, healthy and happy lives are easily catered for. And just like parasite protection – it can be confusing. Your vet and clinic staff can advise you on the nutritional needs of your kitten.

The essential info:

Their diet needs to be made-up of:

      • Proteins*
      • Carbohydrates*
      • Lipids (fats)*
      • Vitamins and minerals.

One nutritional difference between your kitten/cat needs vs. a dog, is taurine. Your kitten’s diet must include this in order to survive. In the wild they usually get this hunting and eating birds or mice.

Meal-time tips

Kittens aged 8-12 weeks need four meals a day, dropping to three a day for 3-6 month olds, and finally two meals a day for cats over 6 months.

Cats are sensory eaters, they use their sense of smell to help them eat. They are also picky and particular, meaning some cats will like a bowl, so their whiskers can touch the sides, others prefer a plate or flat dish so that those whiskers don’t touch a thing.

Remember to always provide fresh drinking water at all times for your kitten and keep their food and water dishes away from litter boxes and where they sleep.

Do not give your kitten cow’s milk as it can give them an upset tummy. If you wish to feed milk use one that is specially formulated for cats. Stomach upsets that persist for more than 24 hours require veterinary attention.

Hunting for fun

Most cats hunt. It’s a simple fact. And feeding them more won’t stop it. In the wild, cats hunt alone, so if they waited until they were hungry before they tried to get food they would run the risk of starving. Instead, cats are always ready to grab a living snack. If you are concerned about this behaviour, you should try other means of prevention, such as restricting the cat’s environment, or provide more play toys for distraction.

Training
your kitten is important

From birth to six months is the perfect time for training, as kittens start learning from a very young age. This is the best time to develop your kitten’s behaviour and socialisation.

Coming when called

Now’s also the time you want to start training your kitten to get used to coming to you when called. Treats usually work best to get your kitten to respond to you. This is helpful for when your kitten is ready to explore outdoors.

Using a litter tray

Most Kiwi cats have access to the outdoors and will do their business there, but until then your new kitten will need a litter tray inside until they are old enough to go outside.

Things to think about:

Provide your cat with access to suitable toileting facilities:

  • Constant access to the tray day or night
  • Location of the tray is important – even minor adjustments could lead to house soiling problems
  • Locate it away from the dog and children play
  • Your cat needs to feel safe when using the litter tray
  • Hygiene – maintain a clean litter tray, cats don’t like being anywhere that’s dirty. They’ll choose somewhere else if their tray is not clean.
  • It is also essential to have at least one litter tray per cat plus an extra one in a different location to ensure they feel safe and comfortable.
Placement tips of food, water & litter trays

Lots of new cat owners make this mistake: line up the food, the water and the litter tray so that they’re all close together and convenient for the cat to find and use. Given a choice, a cat will drink well away from where it eats and will definitely eat and drink far away from where it goes to the toilet.

The carrier

You want to encourage your kitten to recognise its carrier as a safe and secure place to be. Placing familiar towels or blankets inside the carrier can make the carrier more inviting.

Have the carrier available in the house where the cat is likely to visit and investigate, this will allow it time to accept the carrier as part of the furniture. With a bit of luck, you may even find your cat uses it as somewhere to relax!

The best way to get your kitten used to travelling in its carrier is to break it down in small steps, with a reward at the end of each step when the carrier is not moving. This will help your kitten to learn that movement is a positive experience.

  • Move, stop, reward – step-by-step and build this process up all the way to the car.

Your
kitten’s general wellbeing

Although cats are incredibly independent, some cat owners want to give their new family members a little extra attention.

Grooming

From the very first weeks you can help your cat’s fur to shine. Use a brush with soft metal bristles and a rubber base, or a soft brush. Groom your kitten every day if it is long-haired and two or three times a week otherwise. It will love you for it and purr with pleasure to say thanks.

Dental Care

Just like us, our cats need dental care too. Many cats suffer from dental problems even at an early age. This is difficult to avoid, as most cats will not relish having their teeth brushed. Some diets have been specially developed to reduce the incidence of dental disease. Now’s the time to get your kitten used to being handled and having their mouth checked. It is also best to have your vet check your cat’s teeth on an annual basis.

Claws and paws

There are special nail-cutters for claws which get too long, your vet will be able to let you know which clippers are suitable and how much to cut. Remember, any surface that is too hot for you to touch is too hot for kitten’s feet. Something to be aware of on really hot days.

Ears

Check ears regularly, if they have black wax in them consult your vet, there may be ear mites lurking in there.

Chronic pain and disease

Occasionally cats will suffer from a chronic condition, meaning something that is long-lasting, often for life. Examples are osteoarthritis, epilepsy, kidney disease and hypertension to name a few. Fortunately, modern animal pharmacology has developed highly effective medications that can help relieve the pain and symptoms associated with these conditions. Your vet will diagnose any concerns during regular check-ups, or if you bring your cat in having noticed something strange.

Pet insurance

Remember, animal health is not subsidised by the government like human health care is. So while there are treatments available, they do cost, and you may wish to consider pet insurance. For a modest monthly premium, you can receive very generous benefits from insurers to cover the costs associated with providing the best pet health care available.

Vaccinations

Vaccinations generally start around 6-8 weeks of age. An initial kitten course needs to be completed (usually by around 16 weeks of age) and then booster vaccinations are required for ongoing protection.

Parasites

Gentle monthly dosing with BROADLINE can help control fleas, ticks, lice and worms including tape and lungworm. If your kitten is less than 8 weeks of age then you may want to try FRONTLINE Spray as this can be used on kittens from 2 days of age to help manage fleas. Stay on top of flea and worm treatment as it is easier to prevent than it is to eliminate an infestation.

Feeding

Adapting the feeding program as your kitten grows helps to prevent obesity, joint problems and other diseases; such as diabetes later in life. Speak to your veterinarian regarding any advice you need on the type of food during the different life-stages of your cat.

Microchipping

Microchipping is generally done at an early age, your kitten may already be microchipped when you acquire it (remember to update changes such as new owner details and change of address as soon as possible). Ask your veterinarian for further details regarding microchipping at your kitten’s first check-up.

Transportation

Even a normally placid cat can become quite frantic whilst being transported. Always use a secure well-ventilated cat carrier, ideally one that has an opening at the top and at one end. It is much easier to lift a scared cat out of this type of carrier.

De-sexing

Your kitten will go through puberty between five and eight months. Desexing both ‘toms’ and ‘queens’ at an early age will prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Special attention

Most cats love some special attention and will purr when they are content. If your four legged friend feels safe and content around you, you’ll form an incredible bond.

QUESTIONS: Remember your vet is the best person to talk to should you have any worries or problems with your kitten.

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