How do you raise a kitten? 

When you bring home a new kitten, you should prepare a small, comfy area from which to explore their new home, schedule a vet visit within two weeks, socialize your kitten, feed them high-quality food, engage them in daily play, and spay or neuter your kitten around six months old. 

What happens at my kitten's first vet visit?

Your kitten's vital signs will be checked, a complete examination will be performed, and your veterinarian will recommend vaccines, wormers, and other aides, such as microchips, that suit your kitten's lifestyle.

When should I spay or neuter my kitten?

Kittens are usually eligible to be spayed or neutered at about six months of age (the timing is critical to prevent mammary tumors in females and spraying in males).

Kittens are comparatively low-maintence, polite, graceful, independent, and clean housemates. But did you know they also have healing powers?

Your kitten possesses a very particular set of health benefits that you don't find in other animals. The vibrations from your kitten's purr, for example, assist with bone healing and migraines as well as decreasing blood pressure, reducing osteoporosis, and increasing your chances of surviving a heart attack. Petting your kitten has also been shown to release oxytocin, "the love hormone."

They can also teach you a lot about healthy relationships because cats offer unconditional love, have respect for personal space, and inspire their owners to be more patient and caring towards others. Kittens aren't very needy but they do require care to enjoy a long and healthy life. Here we will provide the particulars of raising a kitten.

Kitten-Proofing Your Home

Kitten-proofing should be done before your new kitty actually arrives at your home. Some plants are toxic to cats and should be positioned out of the reach of kittens because they tend to consume them. But, the majority of plants irritate their stomach when consumed.

Similar to childproofing a house, breakables should be out of your kitten's reach, garbage can lids should be covered, blind cords should be wrapped, and window screens should be properly fastened. Additionally, since some kittens genuinely enjoy eating certain materials, store thread, plastic, elastic bands, and paper, away from your kitten's reach. Shrewd kitties often figure out how to access cupboards and cabinets, in which case, baby locks may be utilized to prevent them.

Your kitten will feel more at ease if you keep them in a smaller section of the house while they get used to their new surroundings. Kittens start to explore their new territory as they become more comfortable. Feliway, a natural cat pheromone that comes in a spray or diffusible oil, calms kittens during this transition.

Take Your Kitten to the Vet

Every kitten needs a thorough, head-to-tail, checkup a couple of weeks after coming home to ensure that everything is in good order. Your kitten's vital signs will be checked and a complete examination will be performed as well as any lab tests your vet considers necessary. Your veterinarian will also ask questions about your kitten's lifestyle to inform their recommendations as to which vaccines, wormers, and other aides, such as microchips, will be helpful in your kitty's case. Common kitten viruses that require vaccinations include:

  • Rabies. Kittens contract rabies, which is fatal, through the bite of an infected animal. Their first rabies vaccination is good for one year, after which they are eligible for a 3-year vaccine.
  • Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and Panleukopenia. Known as FVRCP, the vaccine for these viruses is essential for all kitties, as they attack the respiratory system, intestines, bone marrow, and developing fetuses.
  • Feline Leukemia Virus. This virus requires the FeLV vaccine and is important for kittens under one year old because it causes a variety of health issues in cats, including cancer and immune disorders. 

Vaccine reactions in kittens are rarely severe and often clear on their own. Possible side effects include pain and swelling at the injection site, lethargy, and mild fever. If your kitten develops facial swelling, hives, diarrhea, or difficulty breathing, return to your veterinary office immediately. Your kitty may also be tested for worms, but will likely be given deworming medications regardless of the result since parasites are so common in kittens. Your kitten should be rechecked for worms at six months of age.

Feed Your Kitten High-Quality Food

It's vital to your kitten's health that they be fed according to their "life stage." Kittens should be fed high-quality kitten food until they are one year old. High-quality cat food will list a protein source as its first ingredient.

Your vet can determine your cat's body condition score (BCS) to help guide your kitten's diet plan. Canned food is considered best for your kitten and a mix of dry and canned food is best for their teeth. Food can be left out for a kitten's first six months of life, but after that point, most cats need to start using some type of portion control to prevent obesity, which is a major issue for many cats.

Kittens will be vulnerable to dehydration throughout their lives, so it's good to scatter water bowls around the house to encourage them to drink.

Socialize Your Kitten

It's crucial to get your cat used to being handled and held by others during the first few months. Offer a kitten cuddle to friends and family to help socialize your kitty.

Your vet will demonstrate how to handle your kitten's feet, trim their nails, clean their ears, brush their coat, and properly brush their teeth on their initial visit to the veterinarian. Treats can be given as an incentive to encourage positive behavior.

Additionally, if your kitten carrier is kept outside, your kitty may become accustomed to its presence and feel at ease playing or resting in it. The chances of getting your kitten inside a carrier without a fuss increase if your kitty doesn't exclusively associate their carrier with trips to the veterinarian.

Engage Your Kitten in Daily Play

Play is part of your kitten's everyday routine. Don't allow your kitten to play with any of your body parts, however how harmless it might seem. If your kitty tries to bite your fingers or bite your toes, you should ignore them and divert their attention with a suitable toy. Kittens become excited by any response, even one that is critical, and will be motivated to keep trying.

Offer plenty of horizontal and vertical scratching posts and a variety of toys to keep your kitten amused. Kitties who play vigorously are likely to sleep a lot in between play sessions. Play with them earlier in the evening to tire them out before bedtime and prevent their nightly shenanigans from conflicting with your overnight sleep.

Spay or Neuter Your Kitten

Spaying or neutering reduces the number of stray cats that have to be euthanized in your community. Kittens are usually eligible for the procedure at about six months of age (the timing is critical to prevent mammary tumors in females and spraying in males). Prior to spaying/neutering surgery, baseline/pre-surgical blood is typically taken to confirm that your kitten is a safe candidate for anesthesia and to give a baseline against which future results can be compared. This also double-checks your kitten's virus status. Their electrolytes, blood sugar, white and red blood cell counts, and kidneys will all be examined before surgery. Your vet will provide detailed after-care instructions.

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