Kitten

Kittens are adorable little fluffballs, there’s no doubt about that! The very sight of their cuddly little faces is enough to make your heart melt, but before you fall in love you need to consider some things. Owning a kitten means that you will be responsible for this little bundle of fur for the rest of its life, which can be as long as 20 years. Read more

Cat Health and Care

Precautions for Kittens

As long as kittens consume their mother's milk, they will be well protected from infections by all the antibodies it contains. This protection only diminishes when they start to eat solid food from the age of six weeks.

Your Kitten’s First Trip Out

Is my cat ready for an outdoor excursion?

The sun makes outdoor excursions very tempting, as our cats also know well. Once they have enjoyed outdoor access, they want it all the time! Unlimited time outdoors isn't always advisable for you and your cat though.

The First Visit to the Vet

Generally speaking, kittens are cared for exclusively and extremely well by their mother in their first six weeks and are protected from infections by antibodies in her milk. Should a kitten nevertheless fall ill, a quick trip to the vet is always advisable, since young cats in particular have little resistance, vital functions quickly malfunction and they can soon give in to severe illnesses.

Cat Vaccinations

There is lots you can do to keep your cat fit and healthy! A proper diet, a stress-free environment and lots of affection benefits them as much as regular visits to the vet. Your cat’s annual vet check-up often includes vaccinations against common infectious diseases. But more vaccinations aren’t always better. So, which vaccinations are useful and which are not?

The Right Diet for your Kitten

Kittens can eat as much as they like, as their nutritional needs are based on their breed, temperament and activity levels, so kittens who love to play will need to consume more for energy than little sleepy-heads. A little “kitten fat” won’t hurt, but you should always be able to feel their ribs through their fur.
  • 10-12 Weeks: In the first weeks after your kitten comes home with you, you should start by using the food that the kitten is already used to. After a while, you can gradually start to mix in new food with the old food, increasing the proportion of new food every day until the kitten is used to it. Growing kittens have a greater vitamin and mineral requirement than adult cats so you should ensure that you are using a quality kitten food to meet these needs.
  • Up to 4 months: Feed your kitten four meals per day, evenly spaced across the day. Keep the feeding times consistent, and make sure one of the mealtimes is before bedtime, so that your kitten does not wake up hungry during the night.
  • 4 - 6 Months: From the fourth month onwards, reduce the number of mealtimes to 3 per day.
  • From 7 months: From the seventh month onwards, it is worthwhile reducing your kitten’s mealtimes to 2 per day: one in the morning and one at night.
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Things to Consider Before Getting a Kitten

  • Will you be able to provide your new kitten with enough time, attention and space? If you travel a lot or work long hours, you need to make sure somebody is there to take care of your kitten.
  • Has every family member agreed to a cat? You need to make sure everyone is on board, as they will also be taking on the responsibility of caring for a new kitten.
  • Can you cover the cost of a kitten? You need to think about if you can afford the food, equipment and cost of catteries and visits to the vet.
  • Are you allowed to have pets in your home? If you are renting a property, then you will need to get your landlord’s permission.
  • How do your neighbours feel about cats? If you’re going to let your cat wander outdoors, they will explore your neighbour’s garden and may go rooting about their flower patches.
  • Do you already own a pet? Think about if a new kitten will disrupt your other pet’s lives. Will they learn to love one another, or will they always be at odds?

Is One Enough?

How many kittens do you want? One? Two? Five?! Twelve?!

Kittens are inquisitive and sociable and benefit from having other cats around. They learn by playing and watching others, and they keep each other company while you’re away. If you do decide to get more than one kitten, ensure your home is large enough for multiple cats.

Please keep in mind how many cats end up in shelters, because their owners have not considered in advance the responsibility of owning a kitten for life.

Bringing Your New Kitten Home

You’ve had a long hard think and decided that you should get a kitten. But, before your new kitten has time to settle into its new home you need to make sure you’ve got all the essentials prepared!

The first thing you need is a secure cat carrier for when you pick your kitten up and travel with them back to their new home! An inquisitive kitten, loose in the car, is just a recipe for disaster!

So, you’ve got your kitten home safely and it’s time for them to settle in. It may be difficult to resist the urge to immediately start playing with them, but you need to understand they may be a little be nervous. It’s worth setting up a nice quiet area for your new kitten while they get used to their new surroundings. A nice, cosy spot with a warm cat bed or a soft blanket is perfect.

Make sure your kitten knows where their food and water bowls are, as well as their litter tray. These should be in an easily accessible area, where your kitten can eat, drink and do their business undisturbed.

Now that the boring stuff is sorted, it’s time to focus on fun things – Toys! Your baby cat is going to love playing, and the time you spend playing and interacting with them is going to help you both bond.Kittens love chasing and pouncing on things, it’s a chase for them to practise their hunting skills! Ball toys and cat danglers are but two of the toys that are bound to excite and entertain your kitten. It’s also worthwhile to invest in a cat brush and other grooming products for your kitten. It’s another activity that will strengthen your bond with your new cat and it will also help them get used to the routine of being brushed or having their claws clipped. Speaking of claws, let’s not forget about scratch posts! Without something suitable to scratch, your kitten will find something else like your furniture, carpet and curtains!

Switching from Milk to Solid Food

When adopting a kitten, they should be at least 8 weeks old. This means that they are old enough to eat independently and should be weaned from their mother. But if it’s your cat that has given birth and you have a whole litter of newborn kittens to care for, it’s useful to know how to effectively switch them from mother’s milk to solid meals. Kittens can be gradually switched to solid food from about 4 to 5 weeks. You should first start with kitten wet food or moistened dry food, mixed with formula to form a slurry.

Then as they get older you can reduce how wet their food is as they learn to eat. It is important that you feed kittens a special diet tailored to their nutritional needs. Do not feed them regular cat food as this does not contain the nutrients or energy they need for their rapid growth.

First Vet Visit

One of the main reasons for your kitten’s first visit to the vet is to get them vaccinated. Vaccination usually happens when your kitten is between 9 and 12 weeks old and is designed to protect them against common diseases such as cat leukaemia and cat flu. After their first vaccination you will need to book an appointment with your vet every year, so that they can get booster shots.

You can also discuss neutering with your vet. Your kitten may still be a baby, but within a year they will be fully grown, so it’s important to think about it.

A cat can be neutered from about four months of age, but it can be younger, so consult your vet for advice. Neutering helps reduce the risk of male cats spraying to mark their territory, as well as any unwanted grand-kitties. There are no harmful effects from neutering your cat, so unless you are looking to become a breeder it is very important to have your cat neutered as soon as possible.

With your cat growing up and exploring outside, something else you might want to consider is getting them microchipped. Microchipping is a useful way to permanently identify your cat if they should get lost.

It involves your vet injecting a small microchip, roughly the size of a grain of rice, into the loose skin on your kitten’s neck. This microchip will have your address and contact details digitally encoded onto it. So, in the event your lost kitten is found, you can be easily contacted when they scan your cat’s microchip.