Highfield Veterinary Surgery

Where your pet comes first

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Highfield Surgery      01992 440738

Longfield Surgery      01992 629233

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Feline Care

 

1.New kittens

 

It is important that you prepare for the arrival of your new kitten as many potential hazards exist for an inquisitive kitten.  It is best to confine a young kitten to one room when it first arrives home. This ensures all hazards can be removed and will make the kitten feel secure in a safe environment. He/she will also have a better chance of finding the litter tray.

 

Hazards: open toilet seats, hot baths, hanging wires, washing machines, tumble dryers, dishwashers. Many house plants can be toxic to new kittens for example Lillies, poinsettia, rubber plants, ivy, lily of the valley and many more so please check the names of your plants or remove to a safe place. Kittens love to chew plants!  The FAB (feline advisory bureau) website offers a comprehensive list of toxic plants.

 

2.Making introductions

 

If you have existing pets introductions should be done gradually to ensure a harmonious household later. Initially it is best as mentioned to confine your kitten to one room. After a week or two let your kitten investigate the rest of the house whilst your existing pets investigate your kittens room. You should also swap some bedding between your kitten and existing pets so they both become accustomed to one another’s scent before meeting.

 

When you do allow the pets to meet make sure they are supervised and do not leave alone together until you are sure things are going smoothly. You can contact the practice for more detailed advice on introductions prior to bringing your new cat home.

 

3.Indoor vs outdoor cats

 

Your kitten should not be allowed outside until at least a week after its vaccinations are complete. However it is safer to keep him/her inside till at least 6 months old or until he/she has been spayed/castrated and microchipped.

The first time you let your kitten out it is best done when he/she is due a meal and then call him/her back in after 20/30 min. Do this for a few weeks so your kitten becomes very familiar with your garden and the surrounding area.

 

The outside world presents many hazards to your cat such as risk of disease, road traffic accidents, becoming lost or stolen. However it also offers a wealth of opportunites for him/her to exercise and carry out natural behaviours and explore. A decision must be made based on your own situation and your cats personality. Some breeds of pedigree cat ie ragdolls and birmans are best kept inside. If you decide your cat will be entirely an indoor cat you MUST provide cat trees and high up resting places as well as plenty of toys.  

 

4.Litter training

 

Cats learn how to use litter trays from their mothers. How well you new kitten uses the litter tray will usually depend on where your kitten came from. Pedigree and moggy kittens bred in a home environment should be used to using a tray. It is a good idea to use a similar type of tray and litter at first to what the breeder has used. When you confine your kitten to its new room show it where the tray is. If you catch him/her circling or scratching the floor place him/her gently in the tray.

 

If you have a large house it is a good idea to have at least two trays. If you have more than one cat do not expect them to share a tray. As a rule you should have one tray per cat plus one extra. The trays should be placed in a quiet location but ensure your cat has easy access without having to hunt too hard. Clean any waste from the tray as soon as possible after it is soiled as some cats will not use a soiled tray. Some disinfectants are toxic to cats and strong smelling types can deter your cat from using them. Bleach diluted at a rate the manufacturer recommends is safe. But ensure you rinse well.

 

If you are having problems with your cat or kitten using the tray please contact the surgery for advice.

 

5.Toys, playing and scratching posts

 

Playing with your kitten will encourage healthy development and can help teach a kitten how to play with you safely. Do not encourage games that involve chasing feet or fingers as these can cause your adult cat to target them later in life.

 

Fishing pole style toys encourage play whilst keeping the kitten away from fingers and toes. Cardboard boxes can keep cats entertained for hours. Puzzle feeders are also helpful to keep cats entertained when they are at home. Lazy pointers can encourage lazy cats to play.

 

Cats have a need to scratch to keep their claws and front limbs healthy. Cats also excrete a scent from their paws which acts as a chemical messenger to other cats. If you do not wish your furniture or carpets to become damaged you will need to provide a scratching post. Ensure this is large and sturdy enough to support a fully grown cat at full stretch without it wobbling. If it moves easily it may put your cat off and he will resort to scratching the sofa.

 

6.Grooming/handling

 

Start grooming as soon as you bring your kitten home. Start slowly and be very gentle keeping sessions short. Kittens often don’t like to be held still but will gradually become accustomed to it if you schedule regular sessions. This is also a good opportunity to check your kittens skin, ears, eyes etc.

 

7.Biting and playing rough

 

Kittens will often attempt to play with you as they have played previously with their litter mates. Using teeth and claws on your hands is not acceptable. Whilst it may not hurt when your kitten is young it will from an adult cat. Use fishing rod toys and small mice, balls etc when your kitten starts to play roughly to distract him/her. They need to play to encourage games that don’t involve their teeth/nails on your skin to prevent problems later.

 

It is also important to observe and supervise games which your children play with your kitten. Playing games that involve wriggling feet under blankets are funny when a kitten attacks but not an adult cat!