That cute little kitten stole your heart and now he’s part of your family. You love him, but remember: He’s your responsibility and you need to take care of him. Taking care of your cat is a year round responsibility. You should keep a detailed medical file on each pet to remind you when vaccines are due, when the last fecal sample was checked and what special seasonal events are required, such as a trip to the groomer. To keep him healthy and happy, there are several things you should do as part of his care.
Parasites are a common problem in all kittens. Ticks, fleas, heartworms and intestinal worms are the primary culprits. Many of these parasites are transmissible to people, so keeping your kitten parasite free is critical for the safety of him as well as your family. Your veterinarian has medications available to eliminate and prevent these parasites from infesting your kitten.
Roundworms, hookworms, coccidia and giardia are common intestinal parasites. Veterinarians recommend deworming all kittens since many kittens are born with roundworms. After initial deworming, additional deworming may be necessary. After your kitten becomes an adult, a fecal sample should be evaluated yearly. Early treatment can reduce the chance of serious illness. Currently, there are monthly medications available that help prevent some of these parasites from developing. Even if your cat is on medication to prevent parasites, annual fecal evaluation is still recommended.
Watching a flea-bitten pet scratch herself desperately is a heart-rending sight. Fleas are a common problem for cats, dogs, and people. When a flea bites your cat, it injects a small amount of saliva into the skin to prevent blood coagulation. Some animals may have fleas without showing discomfort, but an unfortunate number of cats become sensitized to this saliva. In highly allergic animals, the bite of a single flea can cause severe itching and scratching.
Though the itching component to flea-allergy can be treated with antihistamines or even corticosteriods (prescribed by your veterinarian), the best approach is to eliminate and prevent flea infestation. The best flea products are prescription – see your veterinarian for these. If your cat already has fleas, then you need to kill them first with a product like Capstar® brand of nitenpyram, Frontline® brand of fipronil, Advantage® brand of imidacloprid, or Vectra3D® brand of Dinotefuran and permethrin. Some of these have residual effects that can also control ticks. A newer product, topical Revolution®, helps to prevent external parasites, heartworm and intestinal parasites.
In tough cases, you may have to wage all-out war to conquer fleas. This means a comprehensive flea control program, requiring treatment of the pet, the pet’s bed, the yard and the house. A variety of sprays, dips, powders, foams and oral products may be recommended.
Several topical and oral medications are available to prevent and treat tick infestations. If you find a tick, remove it carefully with a tweezers or tick removal instrument.
Though more common in dogs, heartworms are still a preventable parasite in your cat. For kittens at risk of infection, monthly oral preventative is strongly recommended, based on geographical location and lifestyle. This medication is typically started around 4-6 months of age. Since mosquitoes transmit heartworms, the risk of heartworm infection is increased in the warmer months.
In addition to parasite control, preventing contagious disease is also critical. Several vaccines are available to help reduce your kitten’s risk of acquiring diseases such as feline upper respiratory infections, gastrointestinal viruses, feline leukemia and rabies. Kitten vaccines are generally started around 6-8 weeks of age and are given every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age. Feline leukemia vaccine is given to those kittens at risk of exposure. At risk kittens include those that spend time outdoors and kittens that live in multi-cat households. Rabies vaccination is given at 3-4 months of age and then one year later.
Proper nutrition is essential in maintaining health, especially in kittens. As kittens grow, proper calories need to be provided to avoid nutritional illness or developmental problems. Feeding a high quality kitten diet should provide adequate nutrients for your kitten.
Begin grooming your kitten as soon as possible. This will get her used to combing and bathing. Some long-haired kittens may benefit from clipping. Make sure mats and tangles are removed from the fur as soon as they develop. Long-haired kittens should be brushed daily. Short-haired kittens benefit from weekly combing.
Though keeping your kitten indoors at all times is the safest, some choose to allow their kittens periodic access to the outdoors. If you wish to allow your kitten outside time, make sure to supervise her. She will need help learning how to find her home and how to keep safe. Motor vehicle trauma, exposure to contagious disease and animal attacks are the primary dangers of the outdoors. You can prevent these by either taking your cat outdoors on a leash and harness or constructing an outdoor enclosure that your kitten can safely enjoy.
If your pet is showing any signs of distress or you suspect your pet is seriously ill, contact your veterinarian immediately. Information provided by www.petplace.com. If you have any questions, please contact our clinic at (714) 979-7387.