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The first few weeks and months of kitten ownership can influence your cat's personality for life. When you pick up your kitten from the breeder, it will be moved to a new environment, missing its mother and playmates and it will be feeling lost and unloved. Your natural kindness and the following rules will ensure a contented and healthy kitten.
KITTENS AND CHILDREN
It is essential that you explain carefully to your children how the new arrival should be treated. Of course, kittens love to be stroked and cuddled. They provide joy and entertainment for children, but gentleness of handling is essential. Kittens are not toys and need much care and attention. What can be an innocent game for a young child can cause distress to an animal. Teach your children correct handling and how to recognise when the kitten is unhappy.
CHOOSING YOUR KITTEN
Kittens should stay with their mother until they are 11 to 12 weeks old, especially purebred kittens such as Siamese, Persians, Abyssinians, Burmese, Birmans, Rex, etc. At this age, they should be fully weaned, toilet trained and ready for independence. They should also have received their first cat flu vaccination and their Feline Enteritis vaccination, the cost of which is included in the purchase price. A veterinarian certificate showing details of the vaccinations should be provided. >
At this age, they should be bright and alert. Do not buy a kitten that does not fulfil these requirements.
If the kitten is for a child or a special person, it is a good idea to let the person pick the kitten. The temperament that suits one person will not always suit someone else.
Always get a receipt and as much information as possible about your kitten's family history. A reputable breeder will tell you how healthy a kitten is and what problems may occur when you get it home. The breeder should be able to show the pedigree charts and registration numbers of both parents and details of their breeder registration.
Cats have different nutritional requirements compared to dogs and owners must ensure that these are met. Most of the commercial available foods, tinned or dry, meet these requirements.
Fresh meat alone is not a balanced diet and can lead to digestive problems and even death in severe cases. Kittens should be fed two or three times a day until they are six months old. At this time they can be given a small amount of dry food for breakfast and a maximum of half a 400gram tin of cat food, less if the cat is getting fat. Some breeds are allergic to milk and milk products, so make sure that water is always available, preferably not in a plastic bowl. To encourage strong and healthy teeth, feed your cat fresh meat once or twice a week. The lumps should be at least 25 millimetres thick to encourage chewing.
Regular grooming keeps your cat's coat in excellent condition and prevents knots and hairballs. Grooming is essential in longhaired cats where the fur easily mats. The addition of a small amount of vegetable oil, butter, liver, heart or chicken once or twice a week to the evening meal assists in expelling hairballs.
A kitten should have its first injection by 12 weeks. The Feline Enteritis and Influenza shots will last for twelve months and the Veterinarian will advise when future injections are needed and give you a certificate which breeding and boarding catteries require as proof of immunisation.
Kittens do not leave our home before they are at least 12 weeks of age. They will have received their first vaccination and have been desexed. Desexed cats are not as likely to wander far from home or spray urine on your furniture and curtains. It is a falsehood that female cats should have a litter before they are desexed. Male cats will be less likely to fight with the other cats in the neighbourhood if they have been desexed. What they do not know about will not worry them. Remember that some cats are ready to breed at six months of age.
Worming. Roundworms can be present in both cats and kittens. Regular treatment using tablets or syrup is essential to prevent these parasites from recurring. Kittens can be wormed as young as three weeks of age. Cats should be wormed every three months.
In those areas where they occur, these worms should also be treated as these can be passed onto humans. Remember if you cat has fleas then it is very likely that it also has tapeworm.
The control of fleas is very important as fleas can pass on worms to cats, kittens and humans. A reputable flea powder and or flea collars for cats only are one way of controlling these pests. Take care with flea collars as these may set up a skin irritation in some cats.
This is a highly contagious skin disease and can be passed to humans. Your vet will advise on the best treatment of this disease if it presents itself.
Scratching ears or shaking the head could indicate the presence of ear mites which can cause pain and discomfort. Veterinary assistance should be sought immediately. Always clean the ears gently with cotton wool balls moistened with lukewarm soapy water. The presence of a large amount of dirt on a continual basis is often a sign of ear mites.
Never lift a cat or kitten by the scruff of the neck only, give it support elsewhere, or you could risk breaking its neck or displace internal organs.
If you want to take your pet with your on holidays, obtain a strong travelling cage with plenty of ventilation and take the cat or kitten for short drives to get it used to the motion of your vehicle.
Ribbons and collars
These should contain some elastic as they can be hooked by tree branches and cause strangulation.
Obtain from the Breeder, a veterinarian supplied vaccination certificate and a receipt showing full details of the purchase including: Purpose sold for eg.
If you do not know what breed of kitten you would like to own seek advice from one of the cat clubs in your area or attend one of the cats shows that are held regularly. If you are internet friendly then check out some of the sites on the World Wide Web, for example
In Australia see the TELECOM Yellow Pages for Contact Phone Numbers in your area. Search on the Internet for the breed that your are interested in.
If you feel that a breeder has misled you or deliberately sold you a sick or mistreated kitten, then contact any Cat Club or Association in your area for details about who to write to.