Tips to Get You Off On the Right Paw
Before Bringing your Kitten Home
Just like bringing home any new baby, there are certain things you want to do ahead of the new arrival. First, be sure you have a cat carrier with you for safe kitty travels to your home.
Here’s the short list of things to have in your home to help get your new kitty acclimated:
- Clean, low-profile litterbox with about 2 inches of scoopable, unscented litter.
- Food and water bowls
- Grooming comb
- A few toys
- Dry and canned kitten food
Honey, we’re home! Now what?
A crucial step in preparing for your new kitten is to find a veterinarian you trust. We recommend you consider using a designated Cat Friendly Practice.® These veterinary practices have taken specific extra steps to make their practice more comfortable and welcoming for cats and their caregivers. Just Cats Veterinary Clinic is a designated Cat Friendly Practice and our expert staff will love taking care of your newly adopted kitten!
Your kitten should be taken to the veterinarian within the first few weeks to ensure she or he is healthy. During the initial check-up, your veterinarian will review nutrition, lifestyle, environmental enrichment (key resources such as food, water, litter box, scratching areas, play areas, resting areas, etc.), disease and parasite prevention, and behavior. This is also the perfect time for you to ask any questions you still have.
With a thorough physical exam plus the information you share, you and your veterinarian can create a plan to meet the individualized needs of your young cat. Regular check-ups are key to a healthy and happy feline and family.
Vaccinations are very important during kittenhood because they protect a kitten’s weak immune system against diseases and conditions that could seriously harm them.
The first vaccination your kitten will receive is the distemper vaccination, or the FVRCP. This protects against a series of viruses. Just Cats starts vaccinating kittens at 4-6 weeks (or > 1 lb). The doctor will decide when to use an intranasal/intraocular (IN/IO) vaccine, either for the first vaccine or later in the kitten series. All kittens should receive at least one IN/IO FVRCP vaccine. Kittens get a booster vaccine every 3-4 weeks until they are 16 weeks. Their last vaccine in the series is good for one year. After the first year, adult cats should receive this vaccination every three years.
The rabies vaccine is New York State mandated and every cat should consistently remain up to date with this vaccination throughout its lifetime. The first rabies vaccine is given at three months of age or three pounds. This is good for one year. The following year, your cat can receive either a one-year or three-year rabies vaccine, to be determined by the veterinarian.
The feline leukemia (FELV) vaccination should be given to all cats who will go outdoors. The first vaccine is temporary and the second needs to be given in two-to-four weeks following the initial vaccination. This is good for a year. Subsequent vaccines are also good for one year and may be discontinued at about age five. This is time sensitive and the series needs to be started over if the second vaccination is not given by the 4 weeks interval. The vaccine is most effective if started as a kitten.
Let the Training Begin!
When you bring your little one home, they will want to explore! Take time to show your kitten the litter box, feeding area and carrier.
Training your kitten to be comfortable inside the carrier is an easy way to make her feel safe and secure when going to and from the veterinarian. It will also create a positive relationship with the carrier so you don’t have to struggle getting her in and out. Leave the carrier open in your living area to encourage your kitten go in and out freely. Feed your kitten treats and put toys inside the carrier so she has positive associations there. You can even take your kitten for short car trips in the carrier so she isn’t fearful when you have to travel.
Keep up with Your Kitten’s Activity Level
For energetic kittens, mental activity is just as important as physical well-being. Cats are stimulated by a variety of scents, sounds and tactile experiences. In felines, healthy development includes acting upon their natural predatory behaviors. Young kittens will naturally stalk, pounce and roll around with toys, unprovoked – a part of her inner big cat! It comes as no surprise that a natural favorite for kittens is a furry toy mouse. Avoid stringy or yarn type toys as curious kittens may try to eat it rather than play with it. To discourage biting or scratching, avoid using hands and fingers as ways to engage play. A feather pole toy lets you both enjoy the play, while keeping your hands at a safe distance.
Sit back and enjoy the company of your feline friend who will be a great companion for many years to come!