Your Kitten or Cat

Felines: common queries answered

How should I care for my new kitten?

As well as vaccinating your new kitten, he/she will require regular treatment for worms and fleas. The breeder should have started the program of worm and flea treatment from just a few weeks of age and you will need to continue this to ensure that your kitten grows into a fit and healthy cat. We recommend that you use prescription worm and flea treatments to ensure that the treatments are both effective and safe.

You should also consider the following issues:

  • Diet; what food, how much and how often
  • Identification in case of straying or loss
  • Somewhere safe and quiet to sleep and hide
  • Insurance in case of accident or illness
  • Breeding or neutering

Our nurses are always happy to meet you and your new kitten for a chat about kitten care.

When should I vaccinate my kitten?

Kittens are protected during the first few weeks of life thanks to immunity passed through their mother’s first milk (colostrum). This immunity fades within a few weeks of being born and leaves the kitten susceptible to disease at which point vaccination can take over from the mothers natural immunity in providing protection.

Your new kitten will require two sets of vaccinations to give him/her full protection. Kittens can start their vaccination course from 9 weeks of age and the second course is given three weeks after the first. Your kitten should be kept in the house until a week after the second vaccination. Thereafter you cat will require a booster vaccination once every twelve months to maintain immunity levels.

We routinely vaccinate against the following diseases:

  • Cat Flu
  • Infectious Enteritis (Feline Panleucopenia)

In addition we strongly recommend annual vaccination against Feline Leukaemia. This is a viral disease which is transmitted in blood and saliva when cats fight or sometimes even during grooming. Feline Leukaemia can take months to develop after the initial infection but then it begins to surpress the cat’s immune system which can result in secondary infections, tumours and death. The Feline Leukaemia vaccination can be given from 9 weeks of age along with the other routine vaccinations for Flu and Enteritis.

What should I feed my kitten?

Generally we recommend feeding a complete dry (biscuit) diet to kittens during their vital growing period, this way you can be sure that you are feeding a balanced diet to meet the needs of your kitten.

Kittens can be given solid food from about 4 to 5 weeks of age. Feed at least three small meals a day; the exact amount will dependend on the age and weight of your kitten – follow the guidelines on the packet and always weigh or measure the amount of food you offer at this stage. We recommend that you weigh your kitten regularly during the growing phase.

We supply a wide range of Hill’s and Royal Canin diets and can get most other makes in stock with 24 hours notice. Hill’s and Royal Canin supply a range of diets that change as your kitten gets older and continue to change as your cat progresses through adult years and old age. Each diet is designed to support the specific demands of cats in each age range. We also stock some breed specific diets for example for Maine Coon, Siamese and Persian breeds.

Don’t make sudden changes to the type of diet you are feeding; if a change of diet is required gradually change from the old to the new over a period of about 10 days.

Don’t forget that plenty of clean drinking water must always be available for your kitten and cat.

How often do I need to worm my kitten?

Worming your new kitten is essential to protect their health and also your family’s health. Some worms such as Toxocara can cause illness in people and children are especially at risk from putting contaminated fingers into their mouths. However, it is quite easy to keep your pet and family safe by following a program of regular worming with your kitten.

There are two main types of worms, these are Tapeworms (look like grains of rice) and Roundworms (look more like spagetti).

We reccommend that you use an all-round wormer such as Milbemax which will protect your kitten against both tapeworms and roundworms. Milbemax is given as a very small tablet with or after some food and is safe to give from just two weeks of age. Our nurses will be happy to show you techniques to help you give tablets to kittens and cats.

If you find that you are unable to give your kitten or cat tablets ask us about an all-round spot-on wormer called Profender.

Your kitten should be wormed once a month until he/she is six months old and then typically once every three months throughout the cats adult life.

We stock a very wide range of worm prevention treatments and all our staff have up-to-date training in the pro’s and con’s of each treatment so we can advise the best one for your individual pet. If you have any queries, speak with one of the vets or nurses.

How do I know if my kitten or cat needs treating for fleas?

We stock a very wide range of flea, tick and mite prevention treatments and all our staff have up-to-date training in the pro’s and con’s of each treatment so we can advise the best one for your individual pet and household. If you have any queries, speak with one of the vets or nurses.

What are the pros and cons of neutering my kitten or cat?

The Neutering process involves castration for male cats or spaying for females. Generally we recommend that all cats are neutered from about 6 months of age. Unless you intend to breed from your cat we recommend neutering as routine. Neutering is likely to make your kitten a more affectionate companion and can also increase their life span for the following reasons:

Neutered cats are less likely to stray from home which, amongst other things, greatly reduces the risk of a road traffic accident.

Neutered cats are less likely to fight which reduces the likelyhood of wounds, bites and scratches and associated contagious infections.

Cats that have not been neutered may mark their territory with strong smelling urine deposits and female cats in season can show changes in behaviour including very noisy ‘calling’.

The neutering procedure requires an operation under general anaesthetic and usually involves a one-day stay in the surgery/hospital. Full recovery at home usually happens very quickly for male cats and takes approximately ten days for female cats before they can resume all normal activities.

Please contact our vets or nurses if you have any further queries on these procedures.

Is it worth insuring my kitten?

We strongly recommend that you insure your kitten as soon as possible after he/she comes home with you. Once you have your kitten home he/she will soon become very inquisitive and playful and unfortunately accidents do sometimes happen. Conditions and illnesses can also appear during the first few months of a kitten’s life and if you wait to insure your kitten these conditions are likely to be permanantly excluded from your insurance cover.

Insurance policy premiums are usually substantiually less for kittens and cats than they are for puppies and dogs. This reflects the fact that veterinary fees for treating cats are generally substantially less than those for treating problems in puppies and dogs. However, cats are at relatively high risk of injuries from road traffic accidents and from some on-going illnesses such as hyperthyroidism and liver/kidney conditions. Both of these accident and illness scenarios can be costly to treat and would be likely to be covered by most insurance policies.

There are different types of insurance policy which cover different amounts of vets fees for varying amounts of time. Some policies will exclude a condition after twelve months of treatment while others cover conditions for life. Some policies have a fixed amount of cover for a condition while others will have an agreed amount which is topped up every year. It is vital that you compare all of the features of insurance policies as well as the premium price before selecting a policy for your kitten/cat. We can provide you with further advice and guidance if required.

How can I stop my kitten getting lost?

Puppies and kittens are particularly at risk from getting lost just due to their inexperience and inquisitive and mischievous nature. A microchip is the simplest and safest option for both puppies and kittens. A microchip is a tiny implant which carries a unique identification code. It is injected under the loose skin at the back of the neck and can be used in almost any pet of any age.

A lost animal will usually find its way to a vets, a dog warden or a rescue centre of some sort where it will be harmlessly scanned to detect the microchip. A permanently accessible database is then used to match the details on the microchip with your details and you will be contacted immediately to reunite you with your pet. Puppies and dogs should also wear a collar and identity tag carrying contact phone numbers. However, remember that collars do come off and get lost and should not be relied on as the only form of identification.

Useful links

International Cat Care - Everything About Cats

Cats Protection