Here is a guideline as to what your kitten will need:

Essential:

o Food and water bowls

o Food (our staff will assist you in choosing the correct diet)

o Tick and flea preventative measures

o Bedding

o Collar and identification (ensure collar is elasticated to prevent accidents in trees)

o Toys

o Scratch post

o Litter tray, litter scoop and litter

o Details of the local vet and emergency vet

Optional:

o Carrier

o Grooming tools

o Toothbrush and Toothpaste

o Shampoo

o Catnip

Other useful information to remember

It is essential that your kitten has all her initial inoculations as soon as possible to protect her from fatal feline diseases. These inoculations will require a yearly booster.

All kittens are born with worms and de-worming at an early age is vital, some of the symptoms of a worm infestation include: Swollen belly, dull coat, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, bloody stool, slow weight gain, lethargy, listlessness and anaemia. De-worming will have to be done every 3-6 months for the rest of the cat’s life.

Ticks and fleas are blood sucking parasites that can cause severe health problems to the kitten as well as humans. Ticks carry deadly diseases and fleas are the intermediate carrier of tapeworm, a severe infestation of any of these parasites can lead to blood loss and even death. There are also countless cats that suffer from flea allergies, the saliva of even one flea can cause a cat with this allergy to scratch for up to three weeks, and lose a lot of hair, causing a great deal of stress in both the owner and cat. Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD)/Milliary Dermatitis can usually be seen by the base of the tail, around the neck and ear area as raw, red scabs and hair loss caused by the cat scratching continuously. If you suspect that your cat may have a flea allergy, please do not hesitate to ask us for help. Please note that it is required by law to keep your animal as parasite (worms, ticks, fleas, mites, etc.) free as possible and to take your animal to the vet if it is sick or injured.

Different monthly preventative measures are available to kill ticks and fleas. Always remember that one tick can lay up to 10 000 eggs in a lifetime and a flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day, so its important to remember that one tick or flea can cause a severe infestation. Always remember to carry on treating your pet through winter to prevent a massive infestation in spring.

It is important to perform a good overall check about once a week for any lumps, bumps, discharges or hair loss. Keep an eye out for ringworm as cats are prone to this fungus and to check the ears for a black, gritty and smelly discharge which could indicate ear mites, if left untreated by a vet these mites can lead to a rupture of the eardrum.

When bathing your cat, please remember that the is a cat and not a person; any human shampoos (including baby shampoo) can have bad long term effects on your cat’s skin and coat. It is best not to bath her too often as this can also aggravate skin and coat problems. Daily brushing can help get rid of dirt and stimulate blood flow to the skin; this will prevent excessive matting, moulting and hair loss and promote a healthy skin and coat.

Dental care from a young age is extremely important. Start brushing your cat’s teeth at an early age to get her used to this. Start slowly by just massaging the gums for a few days with your finger, then add cat toothpaste to your finger for a few days and then only when your cat is comfortable with this, introduce the toothbrush. NEVER use human toothpaste as it can make your cat ill. It is a slow process, remember that your cat has only one set of teeth for life. There are also special diets and chews available for your pet to promote clean teeth and gums. Remember that bad breath can not only mean bad teeth, but also that there may be an intestinal problem. Bad breath needs to be checked out by a vet to rule out any serious problems.

Symptoms of concern include:

  • Blood in urine or stool
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing or sneezing
  • Diarrhoea or constipation
  • Difficulty eating
  • Difficulty eliminating
  • Dullness or fever
  • Fur loss or failure to self groom
  • Increased or decreased thirst
  • Lameness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Marked change in behaviour
  • Nasal discharge
  • Discharge from ears (black and gritty or excessive)
  • Pallor of lips and gums
  • Excessive scratching or licking
  • Signs of acute pain
  • Stiff or unsteady gait
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Ulceration of the mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Sudden weight loss or increase
  • Lumps under the skin
  • Severe bad breath


NEVER give your cat any type of human or canine medication unless prescribed by a veterinarian. Many products can be fatal to cats.

Cats eat about 10-12 times a day. It’s important to leave the correct quantity of food and fresh water to avoid her becoming overweight. DO NOT give your kitten or adult cat the following foods: Chocolate, raisins, grapes, raw egg whites, garlic and onions – these food items can be harmful or even fatal to cats. Too much fish (sardines and pilchards) can cause kidney or urinary tract problems due to their high acidity, high protein and allergens causing severe side effects. Tuna contains an enzyme that prevents the absorption and destroys Vitamin B-1 which can cause neurological problems and seizures. Red meat tuna is associated with a fatty disease in cats called pansteatitis (yellow fat disease) and is extremely painful. Cows’ milk is very high in lactose (milk sugar) which some cats find difficult to digest, resulting in diarrhea. Rather use a milk substitute like “kitty Milk” (which contains Taurine, essential for all cats) or if the kitten is on good quality solid food “Milko Pup” can be given (see hand rearing ).

DO NOT FEED A PRODUCT THAT HAS NOT GOT PROTEIN LISTED AS ITS FIRST INGREDIENT!!! There are well known foods on the market which lists Cereal as its main ingredients, cats are obligate carnivores and this food should not be fed.

A cat’s claws grow continuously and need to be kept trimmed and the old outer casings need to be removed to reveal the new, sharp claw underneath. This is done by scratching (or stropping) the claws down on a suitable surface. Stropping is also done in strategic places in order to leave scent messages. Always have a scratch post available and train your kitten from small that this is the area in which to sharpen her nails. If she is caught scratching at an unacceptable area, do not smack her, rather spray her with a water pistol (don’t let her see that it’s you) and move her to her scratch post.

Catnip is a wonderful herb to introduce your cat too. A very small percentage of cats don’t respond to catnip and kittens only start responding at about three months of age, but the ones who do respond have great fun. This herb is not addictive, short lasting and legal. Try it on your cat today.

Toilet training is one of the first tasks for an owner; and does not need to be overly difficult or stressful because cats are naturally clean animals and learn extremely quickly. Start the training as soon as possible, by taking your kitten to her litter box every hour or so (as soon as she wakes up, after playing, drinking and eating), She will have a natural response and start scratching in the sand. Give a lot of praise when she performs. If she soils in an inappropriate area, take her to her litter box immediately to remind her where she has to go. NEVER smack or rub her nose in the accidentally soiled area as this will create a scared and confused kitten. Do not punish your kitten if you catch her after she has had an accident as she will not understand why she is being punished. NEVER put the litter tray close to her food and always in a quiet area. If a kitten all of a sudden starts using other areas to urinate or defecate, get her checked out because she/he might have an intestinal problem.

It is highly recommended that your cat be spayed or neutered as soon as she reaches six months of age (need to check your kittens gender? click here). Not only will it help cut down on the serious over population that leads to the abandonment and euthanasia of millions of animals each year, but it will benefit your cat medically and behaviourally. It is a common misconception that a female cat needs to have her first heat cycle before being spayed. A spayed cat will be less likely to develop breast and ovarian cancer and there is no chance of the extra burden of unwanted kittens. Neutering of a tom cat will prevent testicular cancer, prostate disease, hernias and abscesses due to fighting. It will also lessen the cat’s impulse to roam (which may result in a road trauma accident), mark territory and may eliminate aggression. There is also a less likely chance of the cat contracting FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus), which is the feline equivalent to human AIDS – this is not contagious to humans. This disease is contracted through wounds. Feline leukaemia virus (FelV) is also spread through cat bites and mating. Unfortunately there is no known cure for either one of these disease and this is only two of a few deadly diseases that are contracted in this way.

Not all cats will necessarily gain weight once they have been spayed or neutered. Cat with this tendency can however be put on an appropriate, specially formulated light diet to prevent weight gain. Both sexes also tend to be more affectionate and tend to stay home more after being spayed or neutered.

Written by Cherece du Plessis

Companion Animal Behaviourist


          

 

 
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