Health & Nutrition

The three most important elements for having a healthy, happy kitten are:

Preventive Immunization, Nutrition, and Hygiene

Immunizing the kittens assures them protection against the three deadly viruses; FVR (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis), FVC (FEline Calici Viral Disease), and FPL (Feline Panleukeopenia). ALL kittens should be vaccinated at six, nine and twelve weeks to assure their immune systems are sufficient to protect from these diseases. Many breeders supply the kitten buyers with an Immunization Record. This record is for your assurance, as well as to advise your veterinarian of the dates and specific vaccine used for their innoculations. Most breeders believe that, like human babies, they need the best start in life with the most protection we can give. They also usually worm the babies, and given the Bortadella vaccine. Bortadella, was originally thought to be a canine disease. However, in recent years has been found in the feline community, so this is done as an extra precaution.

This information on nutrition is intended to help you and kitty get started with as little trouble as possible. You will find the better the start with kitty, the healthier and happier they will be.

First, when selecting feeding utensils, make every effort to obtain ceramic (glass) or stainless steel. While these dishes are a little more expensive, most will last their lifetime and save you some problems later. Plastic eating bowls can cause allergic reactions in kittens, will absorb oils, viruses, bacteria, etc., and also have been known to cause "Rodent" ulcers in the kittie's mouth which can be very painful. Plastic cannot usually be washed in a dishwasher or sterilized if needed.

Start the kittens on wet (canned) food blended with dry food, for a month or so. This usually can be done with a blender or letting the dry food soak in warm water for awhile until soft, then blending with a spoon/fork. Kittens usually do not have the molars to properly chew dry food until about four to five months of age. Kittens may prefer eating dry food, but if it not chewed properly dry kibbles can cause diarrhea.

A Pudding Mixture or Milk replacer is strongly recommended for the first year of the kitten's lifetime. This is necessary to supply the calcium needs for growing bones and muscle tissue.

Premium dry food, such as Iams Kitten food can be obtained from your vet, or pet supply stores like Pet's mart. There are a number of brands of premium dry foods. Eukaneuba, Science Diet, Proplan, Nature's Remedy, to name a few gives the advantage of higher concentrations of protein, fat and amino acids, while containing much less "filler" i.e., soybean, corn, etc. The results of these premium foods are that, even though the foods are a higher price, it takes less food to fill up a kitten, resulting in much less excretion and feces. If you should decide to change their food, please do this SLOWLY, over a two-week period. Otherwise they can get diarrhea causing you and kitty problems.

There are a wide variety of canned foods available at most stores. Check the ingredients label on the side of the cans for 30%-34% protein content. If you wish to give kitty some fish occasionally as a treat, give the Tuna which is prepared for people. If fish or tuna is given on a regular basis, kitty will become a finicky eater, then problems will begin! Also avoid giving gourmet cat foods, i.e., Fancy Feast, Sheba, etc., for the same reason. Many veterinarians and specialty stores such as Pet's Mart, carry wet foods in the same preium brands as the dry food. Of course, these are recommended for the same reasons as the dry food, higher density of protien, and less waste.

The subject of potty training, is probably as important as proper nutrition, and will result in good behavior habits for the kitten. In order to start you kitten off right with potty training, decide on a small room where you are going to place the litter box (bathroom, utility room, etc.). Put a little bed, rug, etc., a bowl with dry food and water in with the kitten. When you are not going to be home or supervising the kitten, put him/her in this room where he/she can locate the litter box. Using this practice for the first week or two kitty is in his new home will allow him/her time to find their 'place' while getting acquainted with the rest of the house as well. As the kitten gets older you will see him/her from time to time awake from a nap, or stop from playing, and much like a young child, make a mad dash for "his/her place" and the litterbox.

Kittens need to be combed or brushed once or twice a week. Even shorthaired kittens will benefit from this treatment. Use a metal pet comb or wire brush, and this will keep shedding to a minimum. Most kittens enjoy this attention and it is also good as a bonding mechanism between you and kitty.

A bath about once a month is suggested to prevent the kitten from shedding dead hair on carpet or furniture. Most breeders begin bathing kittens at the age of six weeks with a mild dish soap (diluted with equal amounts of water). Faces are washed with baby shampoo or tearless pet shampoo to prevent eye injury. It has been found that with consistent bathing, they develop a very healthy coat, and are not resistant to baths as they get older. Towel dry thoroughly, then using a hair dryer on warm setting only, finish drying. If you prefer, put the kitten in carrier, propping the dryer up about a foot from the front of the carrier. Kitten will dry in a short time, (15 - 30 minutes). Please keep a close eye on the kitten to be sure it doesn't become to hot!

There is a wide variety of cat toys at most stores, but it is suggested to let the kitten use his/her imagination. You will be surprised at the entertainment a small wad of paper can bring. You might also tie a few milk bottle cap rings to a piece of string, or toss out some pop bottle caps. Just about any small, rounded object that is light weight, will bring hours of play for the kitten. If you prefer toys, keep a variety of small pom-pom balls and some with bells that tinkle inside when they are rolled across the floor.

Hopefully this information is useful. You will find that, with time and a few basic rules, you and kitty can enjoy a long, healthy, and loving relationship.

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