Kitten Care at EDGE
Welcoming a new kitten into your home is as joyous as it can be challenging! Our veterinary team wants your feline bond to thrive for many years to come, which is why we dedicate so much attention to their early development. We recommend plenty of hands-on attention from family members, proper nutrition, scheduled vaccinations, and, in most cases, deworming to support their healthy development.
It’s important to have your new kitten examined by a veterinarian within the first few days of adoption. During their first visit, your veterinarian will discuss everything from their physical wellness, to preventative care, to litter box usage. Additionally, early and frequent visits to the vet will prepare them for regular wellness exams throughout their lifetime.
Your Kitten’s First Vet Visit:
This examination is important to check for any apparent health issues (ie: underweight, ear mites, fleas, intestinal parasites, skin issues), discuss appropriate acclimation to the home, people, or other pets in the home, disease risks that your kitten may face, screening for infectious diseases like Feline Leukemia and FIV, proper nutrition and feeding recommendations, litter box care, and necessary vaccinations, etc.
Common Health Problems in Kittens:
- Diarrhea; often due to intestinal parasites or abrupt diet changes
- Skin issues; such as ringworm
- Abnormal eye discharge; typically related to upper respiratory disease
- Audible congestion when breathing
- Ear mites
- Ingestion of inappropriate or toxic substances.
Vaccinations and Preventative Care
Kitten vaccinations are essential to proper kitten care and should be started soon after you get your kitten. Boosters will follow at one year and your veterinarian will discuss a long – term wellness plan for the rest of the cat’s adult life. Kitten vaccinations are given to prevent feline leukemia, rabies and distemper. These infectious diseases are devastating and completely preventable with simple vaccinations.
Signs and symptoms of illness in kittens:
- Green or yellow goopy eye or nose discharge
- Audible congestion when breathing
- Poor hair coat
- Not eating
Signs of a healthy, thriving kitten:
- Good appetite
- Formed stools
- Healthy skin and coat
- Appropriate weight gain and growth
- Positive interactions with people and other housemates
Parasite prevention is a very important aspect of routine care, and it is especially important to start your new kitten on a regular deworming program (monthly preventative) right away. Aside from dangerous intestinal parasites, cats can also contract heartworms through mosquito bites. Once a cat has developed heartworm disease, there is no treatment. Fortunately, heartworms and other potentially serious parasites, such as fleas and ticks, can be avoided with a monthly preventative. Keep in mind that we do not recommend over-the-counter sprays, powders and collars. They are less effective and more toxic to your kitten. At your next appointment we would be happy to discuss an effective flea/tick and overall parasite prevention program.
By 6-8 weeks old, kittens are typically eating solid food (wet +/- dry) exclusively. Our veterinarians recommend feeding a food that is 100% complete and balanced for your kitten until a year old because kittens require a different level of nutrition than adult cats. It is best to feed small amounts often with kittens often fed 3-4 times a day because feeding a measured amount of food divided into smaller meals throughout the day allows for future portion adjustments if needed to avoid over or underfeeding.
For more information on feeding styles: https://www.hillspet.com/cat-care/nutrition-feeding/how-to-feed-a-cat
Having fresh water available to drink is just as important. A short wide bowl is recommended or a fresh flowing drinking fountain.
It is not recommended to feed your kitten regular milk. This can lead to diarrhea and indigestion.
Spaying or Neutering Your Kitten
Having your kitten spayed or neutered not only helps control the pet population, but it can also be beneficial to your feline’s health. Why should you have your cat spayed or neutered?
- Avoiding unpleasant habits like territorial scent spraying.
- Avoiding unplanned litters.
- Can help prevent feral behaviors, such as roaming.
- Decrease the spread of mating diseases in cats, such as FelV.
- A decrease in the chance of mammary or testicular cancer later in life.
Kitten Q & A
What should I consider before adopting or buying a kitten?
Do you work from home or long hours away from home? Are you ready to commit to regular veterinary visits for health exams and vaccinations? Are you prepared for the financial investment of purchasing food, toys, litter boxes, and beds to investing in veterinary care? Are there children or other pets in the home?
Discuss with family members ahead of time the division of responsibilities – feeding, cleaning litter boxes, and playtime. Any family members with allergies? If unsure, spend some time around cats at a friend’s home or shelter prior to adopting.
Setting up a safe space for your new kitten to acclimate is key. A quiet room with litter box, food, water, bed, place to hide, appropriate scratching post or pad, and toys will allow your kitten to get comfortable in the new space. Litter box should be scooped or cleaned at least daily and dishes cleaned daily. Make sure the space has been kitten-proofed and there are no dangers lurking that your curious kitten could encounter. This private space will help your kitty ease into the new space. Some cats need extra time, so be patient.
What should I look for in a kitten?
I dare you to find a kitten that is not adorable! Cuteness aside, there are some things to look for when you are choosing a new kitten. A healthy coat, clear eyes, nose, and ears can be signs of a healthy kitten. A kitten with proof of veterinary evaluation, vaccination, and deworming supports a healthy kitty.
What are the signs of a healthy, thriving kitten?
- Activity – confidently explores and uses the living space, including climbing and perching.
- Interaction – initiates brief, frequent interactions with others in the house.
- Food and Water Consumption – indoor-housed cats usually eat small meals and drink over the course of the day
- Elimination Behavior – most cats use the litter box 2-4 times a day
- Weight Loss or Gain – 10% either way can be important. You can monitor this using regular weighing or body condition scoring
- Grooming – normally cats gently groom the entire body 2-3 times a day.
- Sleeping Habits – sleeps in view, in favored places
- Vocalizing – cats have different voices; you can learn what is normal for your cat so you can notice any changes.
How can I kitten-proof my house?
Get familiar with the ASPCA’s list of toxic plants and substances and have contact information for Poison control. Put food items away and out of reach. Many items, including hair ties, sewing supplies and string can be swallowed and cause a dangerous obstruction. Hide or prevent access to expensive, fragile, dangerous or toxic items. Here is a great checklist for kitten proofing your home: https://www.hillspet.com/cat-care/training/tips-for-kitten-proofing-your-home