How to Care for Your New Kitten

Yay!  You’ve got a new Kitten  No doubt havoc and joy will have been created in your house in equal measure.  Let’s face it, kittens are cute and can light up any room.  But have you given much thought to how to care for the new addition?  Of course you have!  And you probably have some questions.  After all, this is a new life in the house and it will have many demands.

What do I feed the Kitten?

This is a common question.  Cats are obligate carnivores.  This means that they have to eat certain foods that provide proteins usually only found in other animals.  The best approach is to feed a diet from a commercial pet food company, e.g. Royal Canin.  That way you can be sure that the food is mixed to a high standard, and your cat is not missing out on vital nutrients.  There is usually a chart on the side of the bag indicating what amount to feed.  If you need to weight your cat, just pop into your vets, or bathroom scales can give a good estimation.  Simply stand on the scales with the cat in your arms, and then subtract your own weight.  It is the author’s preference to feed a complete “dry food” matched to the life stage of the kitten.  This means the food is in a dry “kibble” as opposed to wet meat and it is formulated to meet the needs of a growing cat.  If you get your cat used to this food you can save a lot of mess in the future.  Be careful !  Cats are wily and may initially refuse food tempting you to serve something different.  However, they are training YOU to feed them what they want!  Be strong and stick to the same diet and you can save a lot of indecision at meal times.

Should I Let my Kitten Go Outdoors?

A tough question.  In Lecale cats commonly are allowed to roam outside.  This has good points and bad points.  The good points are that many cats enjoy roaming the neighbourhood, and bathing in the sun on a good day.  The bad points include the risk of being killed on the road, straying and the unavoidable fact that many cats kill our local birds.  Keeping a cat indoors can avoid these problems, but it may predispose the cat to occasional bouts of cystitis.  Some folk actually create “catteries” – outdoor cages connected to the house that give the cat the best of both worlds.  Recent studies have indicated that cats are more likely to be killed on the road if they are male and unneutered.  Letting your cat outside is a personal choice.  But if you are keen to do it, perhaps it would be wise to ensure they are neutered before venturing outside.  A quick-release collar with a bell can help warn local wildlife that they are coming.  Keeping your cat in for the first 4 – 6 months can bond them to your house so they don’t stray, and a cat-flap helps!

When do I need to take Archimedes to the Vet?

OK – so perhaps you will not choose a name as pretentious as Archimedes, but I pray for the day when an Archimedes or Persephone meows imperiously from a cat box in Downe Vets.  You should book an appointment to see your vet as soon as you get a kitten.  The kitten vaccination course starts at 9 weeks of age and generally requires two shots followed by an annual booster.  This can help protect against cat ‘flu and it is important that  your kitten is vaccinated before meeting other cats.  Downe Vets participates in the Cats Protection early neutering scheme.  This means we apply a safe protocol to neuter kittens at 4 months of age, thus preventing unwanted kittens.  We can often arrange to do this at your second kitten vaccination.  In fact, Cats Protection Downpatrick is currently running a neutering deal in conjunction with Downe Vets.  It’s worth ringing up to check if you are eligible to be on the scheme and get your cat neutered and microchipped for £5 – £10.  At your first consultation with the vets they will likely chat with you about worming and flea protection for your cat.

Insurance

We advise getting good quality pet insurance for your new kitten.  Veterinary care is becoming more complex and owners demand and receive a high level of service.  Insurance can give you peace of mind if your pet becomes ill.  In this country we are very lucky to have the NHS answer many of the financial questions around “what happens when I get ill”.  Unfortunately there is no NHS for pets – so you as the owner have to provide some level of cover, which you will hopefully only rarely use.  Companies such as Agria offer plenty of advice on the right level of cover for your animal.

Finally, enjoy your new pet.  Cats can be a joy to live with and true companions for life – many of them can live to around 20 years!  They often have unique personalities and become good friends over the years.

Join us again next time for our sister article “How to Care for Your New Puppy”.

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