Care for Your Cat
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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
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
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
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.
- pet, show or breeding,
- name & address of seller,
- name & address of buyer
- date of sale
- Breed & sex of animal.
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
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.