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Kitten Health Basics

How to Be Sure Your Kitten Is and Stays Healthy

By Lauren Leonardi . December 12, 2012 | See Comments

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    PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian

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Kitten Health Basics

A healthy kitten is as much a product of their environment as it is about their physical wellness. These are a few things you can do to help make your home a kitten approved location.

Keeping your kitty healthy is as much about your home environment as it is about your kitten’s internal well being. There are a few things you should do before you bring your new kitten home, as well as a small list of tasks to take care of in the first few days of life with your kitten.

Additionally, all cats require general health maintenance over the course of their lives to make sure they stay fit and strong.

Before Your Kitten Comes Home

We love kittens for their playfulness and their curiosity. But these traits can also get your kitten in trouble if you don’t take a few safeguards before you bring your kitten home.

Houseplants

Many cats love to chew on vegetation, whether the grass in the backyard or your houseplants. However, some houseplants can be poisonous to kittens. Even some of the most common house plants like Aloe, Begonias, and Alocasia can be toxic. Unfortunately, some cats are killed each year from nibbling on plans they shouldn’t. Find out which of your houseplants are safe, and chuck the ones that aren’t.

Toxic Elements

Kittens are a special combination of clever, curious, and tiny. They can get into all sorts of nooks and crannies you probably don’t even think about. Rodent and insect poisons, long hidden under the sink, could become a disaster. Likewise, cleaning materials or antifreeze left open and accessible can also cause problems. Ensure spills have been thoroughly cleaned up, and make sure your bottles and jugs are capped and sealed. You can use baby-proofing products for your cabinets as well, to ensure they stay closed.

Long, Loose Strings & Things

Everyone knows kittens love to play with string. Unfortunately, your new kitten doesn’t know the difference between the twine you bring out for playtime as compared with the pull cord on your venetian blinds. Your kitty may present a hazard to your home decor, but more importantly, your home decor may be a hazard to your kitty.

Make sure drapery and electrical cords are as tucked away from your kitten as possible. These cords can be a temptation to a kitten who could end up strangled or electrocuted if proper care is not taken.

When Your Kitten Comes Home

As soon as possible after bringing your kitten home, begin checking for possible health problems. This is especially true if your kitten came from another home or was brought in as a stray. Shelters may have already treated your kitten for some of these conditions, but being mindful of problems is always a good idea.

Eyes should be clear, stool should be firm, and your kitten should be energetic and playful.

Parasite Check

Keep an eye out for signs of parasitic infection. Ear mites are a common trouble for kittens and can cause a great deal of discomfort and become a serious health issue if not dealt with. Look for irritation of the ears and scratching or shaking of the head.

Fleas should also not be ignored, as they can lead to skin problems and tapeworm infections. Check for crusty and irritated skin. Be aware that flea treatments for adult cats can be quite toxic to kittens. Consult with your veterinarian and carefully read package instructions to apply appropriate doses for your kitten’s age and weight.

Next, look for bloating, diarrhea, or weight loss as signs of worms. These parasites can seriously damage your kitten’s health, but are easily treated at your vet.

Vaccinations

Kittens require a series of vaccinations during the first year of life, typically at months 2, 3, and 4. These vaccinations protect your kitten from dangerous conditions such feline distemper, two flu-like diseases, and rabies.

Spaying and Neutering

The sad fact is that there are already more cats in the world than there are homes for them. A responsible cat owner will spay males and neuter females. This will also discourage male cats from territorial spraying and fighting with other males.

The minimum age for spaying or neutering kittens is 8 weeks of age, and the cat should weigh at least two pounds. If budget is an issue, there are many local organizations all around the country that will provide spays and neuters at a discounted rate, or even for free.

General Health Maintenance

Here are a few other items on the general health to-do list for cats and kittens:

Claw clipping:

To prevent cats from ruining the furniture and injuring humans, claws may be clipped every 2 to 3 weeks. Clip only the clear, curved part of the claw, not the more opaque part, called the quick. Surgical claw removal has become less and less common. It’s a controversial procedure and should be discussed with your vet if you’re considering it.

Grooming:

Cats are fastidious by nature and will keep themselves clean as long as they are healthy. However, regular brushing of your cat’s fur, especially when shedding, will help keep the fur from matting. Kittens should be gently brushed early on to get them used to the procedure. Problems with hairballs can also be minimized with regular brushing.

Feeding:

Kittens have different nutritional needs than adult cats. Talk with your vet about high quality foods for each stage of your cat’s life.

More on Caring for Kittens

Poisonous Foods for Cats
Easy, Green, Cat-Safe Cleaning Tips

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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Kitten Health at a glance

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  • 1Remove toxic elements from the home, including certain houseplants.
  • 2Be sure to get the proper vaccinations.
  • 3Always spay and neuter, especially outdoor cats.
  • 4Cats will primarily groom themselves, but you may want to consider brushing them, and clipping their nails.