Please see below information on the common practical questions that new kitten owners often ask us
When you first take a kitten home feed it on the same food it has been used to. A sudden change of diet combined with the stress of adapting to a new home can cause stomach upsets and diarrhoea. If you want to change the diet, do so gradually by mixing it with the kitten’s usual food. Kittens have small stomachs and have to be fed little and often, like babies. It can be very difficult to put together a homemade diet which provides all the nutrients required by growing kittens – it is a great deal easier to feed a good quality commercial kitten food. There are foods which have been specially formulated for kittens because they have different nutritional needs to the fully grown cat. Village Vet will advise you on the best, complete diet for your kitten.
Kittens aged 8-12 weeks need four meals a day, 3-6 months three meals, and kittens over 6 months old, two meals. You may want to provide some dry food on an ad lib basis – it depends very much on your lifestyle, what your kitten likes and is used to and if you have other cats in the house with certain feeding routines and habits.
Do not give your kitten cow’s milk as it can cause diarrhoea. If you wish to feed milk use one that is specially formulated for cats. Diarrhoea that persists for more than 24 hours requires veterinary attention. Fresh drinking water should be available at all times and it is always a good idea to add a few bowls of water around the home.
Cats are very fussy about their toilet habits and kittens will usually have learnt to use a litter tray by copying their mother. You may just need to show your new kitten where the litter tray is and place it on the tray on waking up from a sleep and after meals, or when the kitten is sniffing, scratching or beginning to crouch and looks as if it is about to go!You will need a plastic litter tray which can be filled with cat litter. You may intend to let the kitten outdoors at a later stage, an indoor litter tray is always recommended as it will provide the cat with additional security when toileting. You may want to purchase one of the covered types with a lid which gives the cat more privacy , stops smells from escaping and prevents mess with the litter.Place the tray in a quiet accessible corner where your kitten will not be disturbed. Make sure that the litter tray is not next to food and water bowls.The litter tray must be kept clean and emptied regularly. Some disinfectants which go cloudy in water are toxic to cats, so use only hot water and detergent when cleaning out the tray or ensure you use a cat-friendly disinfectant such as bleach which has been diluted as the manufacturer recommends and the tray rinsed thoroughly before use.If your kitten is inclined to mess elsewhere in the house, confine it to one room with a litter tray until the kitten learns to use it regularly. Place the kitten on the litter tray a short time after it has eaten or when it is sniffing, scratching, beginning to crouch and generally showing signs of looking for a suitable corner to use as a toilet.
If the kitten is reluctant to use the tray it could be because:
- It is not clean enough – empty it more often
- It is not big enough – it should be big enough for an adult cat to turn around in and to use more than once without getting dirty
- You have cleaned it out with a chemical that is too strong smelling
- It is too near the bed or food bowls
- The kitten does not like the texture of the litter you have chosen – revert to the type it has used before.
This is completely normal communicative behaviour for cats. Therefore, it is best to provide them with various scratching posts to give them an outlet for this behaviour instead of using your sofa!
Indoor versus outdoor
Your kitten should not be allowed outside until at least a week after it has finished its first course of vaccinations. Once it is fully vaccinated and has become used to life in your house, you can start to let your kitten go outside. Choose a dry day and a quiet time and accompany your kitten outside, allowing it to explore the new environment. Continue to accompany the kitten until it is used to your garden and can find its way back to the house without difficulty. It is best not to leave your kitten outside alone until it is 6 months old.Cats like to come and go as they please. A cat flap allows them to do this. If you fit a cat flap you won’t need a litter tray indoors when the kitten grows up. You can teach your kitten to use a cat flap by propping it open initially and enticing it through with food. Gradually close it down so the kitten learns to push the flap. If you already own a cat be aware that the kitten may watch and learn and let itself outside before you are ready – kittens learn quickly by watching other cats. We always advise a magnetic or electronic cat flap to prevent neighbourhood cats from coming into your house.If you have decided to keep your cat indoors, you will need to provide plenty of stimulation to prevent boredom and frustration.
Hazards in the home
Owning a kitten is very similar to having a toddler around. Kittens are very inquisitive and will investigate small places which they can crawl into. Keep the washing machine and tumble dryer door shut when not in use and check them before putting the clothes in. For this reason, should your kitten go missing for any length of time, you should look in cupboards, wardrobes, outside sheds etc in case it has accidentally been shut in or got stuck.Remove any plants which may be poisonous, for example Dieffenbachia (dumb cane), Poinsettia, Lily of the Valley, Christmas Cherry, Castor Oil plant, Avocado plant, Rubber plant and Ivy. Most cats will not touch such plants but kittens may be more inquisitive. If you live in a flat above ground level or have a house with several storeys keep the windows shut to ensure that kittens do not fall out. Outdoors keep garden chemicals stored safely and take care if using slug bait or chemicals on the garden itself – some types can be very toxic to animals.
It is a good idea to accustom your kitten to being groomed from an early age, particularly if it has a long fur. A long-haired cat needs daily attention to keep fur free of tangles. Grooming removes excess loose hairs which can cause fur balls to build up in the stomach. Combing and brushing will help remove these hairs and it is usually appreciated by the cat, provided it has been accustomed to grooming early in life. Grooming also gives you a chance to keep a close eye on your cat, asses its health and help to develop the bond between you. Touch therapy has positive effects on well being. Always be gentle and make grooming a rewarding experience.
We offer pet identity tags and a microchip service.
The first 20 weeks are the formative period in your kitten’s life. This is the time to build the bond with your kitten. Kittens are very playful. Give them an assortment of toys to keep them occupied and exercised. We will provide you with advice on which toys to choose.
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