Once the settling in period is over there are a number of things you need to remember to do, and keep on doing, for your kitten to stay healthy and happy.
- Start toilet training from the word go.
Kittens are a dream, usually training themselves within a day or two, so long as you provide them with easy access to clean cat litter and place the tray away from the feeding area.
- Behavioural training.
You can be firm with your kitten but remember to be consistent. Start gently. Use your kitten’s name frequently when interacting, but try not to use it in reprimand as you want them to respond to their name in a positive way. Be reasonable but determined about how you want your pet to comply, as making compromises at this stage can store up trouble for later. Try to have clearly defined human only areas. For example you may decide not to let her go upstairs or to lie on your bed. They should certainly be banned from food preparation areas. Familiarise your kitten with the idea that they should allow you to examine feet, ears and mouth. Get them used to regular grooming.
- Choose a good food for your kitten.
You really will see the difference if you buy one of our premium brands. The coat will shine and it will be a whole lot easier to clean up after your pet; there will be less faeces, less flatulence and less mess! Those are the benefits you can see for yourself, but a healthy diet does contribute to a healthy body. We recommend that you choose a dried food as it is better for your kitten’s teeth and is also much cheaper for you! After 3 months of age 3 meals a day should be plenty. After 6 months, two meals will be all that is needed.
- Worm your kitten regularly.
Initial worming should be every 2-4 weeks until 6 months old and then every 3 months after that. Kittens are especially susceptible to the common roundworms and can become ill if worming is neglected. Faeces should be collected and disposed of carefully. Pregnant women, or women likely to become pregnant in the near future, should be careful not to come in contact with cat faeces (danger of Toxoplasmosis). They should wear gloves when cleaning litter trays and when gardening. There is a high prevalence of tapeworms in kittens, particularly if fleas are present or if your cat is a hunter. The traditional wormers are proving to be increasingly ineffective in the control of internal parasites. We have chosen Milbemax as our standard prescription wormer as it is an effective modern drug that is small enough to be easily concealed in food or dropped down the throat. In particularly reluctant cats there are prescription spot on wormers which are easily applied to the back of the neck and are very effective.
- De-flea and de-tick your kitten.
Fleas can be transmitted between cats and dogs. Flea bites can cause irritation and in some cases allergic reactions. A flea comb can be used regularly to check for fleas. Ticks can also cause skin irritation and are picked up in fields and heathery or overgrown terrain. The most effective control is the monthly application of a prescription ‘spot on’ for fleas and ticks/lice, which consists of a small amount of fluid that is applied to the back of the neck. Medicated shampoos, traditional sprays and flea collars are all becoming increasingly ineffective. All pets in the house should be treated at the same time. We stock a range of ‘Spot-ons’ in the vet hospital.
- Get a health check and a complete vaccination course
Get a health check and a complete vaccination course at an early stage. This will enable your pet to start interacting with others without taking unnecessary risks of contracting contagious diseases. Most of the socialisation process takes place takes place within the first three months. Your cat will need a yearly health check and vaccination. Another vaccine that may be of interest is the rabies vaccine (required for the pet passport scheme if you want to travel abroad with your pet)
- Micro-chipping is a great idea.
The chips are small and easily inserted under the skin. They greatly increase the chances of your cat being returned to you should it be lost/ stolen. Click here for more details.
- Pet insurance is now an integral part of animal healthcare in Ireland.
We strongly recommend you consider taking out an insurance policy for your pet. Frequently we find ourselves in the position of treating pets in a less than ideal way due to financial constraints. The diagnostic and treatment procedures we use in veterinary medicine have greatly advanced in recent years. Along with these advances the cost of veterinary care has also significantly increased.
- Neutering is an important part of responsible pet ownership.
We recommend that cats and dogs which are not intended for breeding are neutered pre-puberty. This day procedure is carried out at 5 months old for females and 8 months old for males. There are medical, behavioural and animal welfare reasons for this advice. A cat that has not been neutered pre puberty is 7 time more likely to develop malignant mammary tumours. Neutering reduces fighting by 80% in male cats. Fighting is the most effective way in which feline AIDS is spread and frequently causes nasty bite abscesses. Post puberty, male cats start to spray pungent urine to mark territory. Neutering effectively deals with this. Tens of thousand of unwanted cats are euthanased each year in Ireland. For this reason alone neutering is extremely important.
- FUN, FUN, FUN.
Make sure you give your kitten pet plenty of fun and exercise. This may mean providing an activity platform in the house or if your cat is to have access to the great outdoors, then a cat flap will be very useful. You need to provide plenty of mental stimulation. Having two cats can be a great answer as they will interact with each other and provide a lot of their own entertainment.