Welcome Home Kitty
What’s new pussycat? Unless you’ve had a kitten before, everything. Don’t worry, the satisfaction and fun you’ll get from your new family member will be well worth any growing pains.
Here’s what to expect year one.
Kitten’s first vet visit
Ask your veterinarian to recommend a high-quality natural kitten food during your first visit; they can tell you the type and amount of food to feed, and help you set a schedule so your kitten knows when to expect her meals.
Besides discussing basic questions and concerns, it’s vaccination time. Check with your veterinarian for their guidance regarding initial vaccines.
Kittens usually will get a combination (or “3-in-1”) vaccine to protect against feline distemper, calicivirus and rhinotracheitis in a series several weeks apart. After that, the vaccine is updated annually.
The American Association of Feline Practitioners recommends giving all kittens a feline leukemia vaccine in two doses, three to four weeks apart. If your kitten’s allowed to satisfy her wanderlust outdoors, she’ll get an annual leukemia booster. If she’s a homebody, she won’t need the annual leukemia protection.
Your kitten should also get her first rabies shot once she is 12 weeks old.
Plus, even though there isn’t a vaccine to protect against Feline Immune Deficiency Virus (FIV), all cats should be tested because they can carry the fatal virus for months, even years, without any symptoms; that’s why you shouldn’t take untested strays in and expose family felines to them, at least until blood tests prove the stray cat is virus-free.
Fleas, ticks and worms, oh my
At your first vet visit it’s wise to:
Discuss safe options for controlling internal and external parasites. A de-wormer that gets rid of roundworms won’t eliminate tapeworms; your veterinarian will determine the cause and prescribe the correct medication.
Learn about possible signs of illness to watch for during these first few months of your kitty’s life.
Your vet will also check your kitten’s ears for mites, tiny parasites that are commonly transferred from cat to cat. If your feline’s constantly scratching her ears or shaking her head, she may have pesky mites. Your vet will clean her ears thoroughly before giving any medication.
Fun fact: All kittens are born with blue eyes that fade to green or gold by the time they’re 12 to 13 weeks old. Except for Siamese or other Asian breeds who keep those baby blues.
Your kitten most likely weaned off her mother’s milk and started eating solid food at about 8 weeks old. By the time you bring her home, she should be eating solid canned food or kibble - about 4 times a day.
Growing kittens need as much as 3 times more calories and nutrients than adult cats, so
a high-quality kitten formulation like BLUE Life Protection Formula® is optimal for proper nourishment during these rapid growth spurts. Remember, your veterinarian can recommend the right food for your kitten’s diet.
And don’t forget proper hydration: keep Kitty’s water bowl filled with fresh, clean water.
Hello litter box
As soon as you bring your kitten home, introduce her to her litter box. Scratch your fingers in the clean litter to get her attention and she’ll investigate.
Since cats are born scratchers, it’s best to start early with the scratching post. The more your kitten feels comfortable with her post, the more she’ll mark it with her scent and continue to scratch it, rather than you or your upholstery.
A good scratching post or multi-level cat tree should be tall enough so your kitten gets a good stretch; it also needs to have a sturdy, balanced base so it won’t topple.
Don’t take it personally, but after your kitten’s around 12 weeks old, she may not be that interested in playing with you. That’s when kittens usually become interested in playing with objects even more than other cats.
Keep stimulating cat toys around so she can enjoy this normal predatory play and exercise at the same time. It’s important your kitten learns that it’s okay for her to bite toys, not people and other living creatures.
Choose kitten-safe toys without string or small pieces that your kitten could swallow. Treat puzzle toys are great for teaching your kitten problem solving. Always stow the toys safely away so your kitten doesn’t play with them when you’re not watching.
The earlier you introduce your kitten to circumstances she’ll likely encounter throughout her lifetime, the better — whether it’s meeting children, dogs and other felines — to being transported in her carrier and having her nails trimmed.
Use healthy, natural food and treats from your positive-reinforcement arsenal to teach and reward good behavior. Most of all, give her plenty of time to adjust to new situations.
Learn more about the next important stage in your kitten's life.