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The Dos and Don'ts of Caring for Your New Kitten

A Kitten

Welcoming a new kitten into your home is so exciting. You can't wait to cuddle and bond with your new feline companion. In between the cuddles, however, take some time to focus on your kitten's health. Adhere to the dos and don'ts below, and you'll set your kitten up for a happy, healthy, and long life.

Do: Make a Vet Appointment ASAP

Your new kitten appears healthy and energetic, so you may not immediately think of taking him or her to the vet. However, early veterinary appointments are important to prevent health problems later in your kitten's life. Schedule your kitten's first appointment when he or she is between 8 and 10 weeks old.

During this first appointment, your vet will check the kitten over for parasites like worms and fleas, administer initial vaccinations, and check over your kitty's heart, lungs, and gums for any signs of underlying illness. If your kitten does have parasites or an underlying health condition, identifying and treating it early will ensure better results.

Don't: Feed Your Kitten Adult Cat Food

Generic adult cat foods do not supply enough calories for a growing kitten. Look for a kitten-specific food, and feed your kitten according to the instructions on the package. Typically, kittens need to eat four times per day in order to meet their calorie needs. Provide plenty of fresh, clean water at all times too.

Do: Choose Litter Carefully

Clumping litter may be convenient to clean, but it is not safe for young kittens. If your kitten consumes the clumping litter, which they often do, this could cause an intestinal impaction. Use non-clumping litter until your kitten is at least three months old. Natural, pellet-style litters made from paper or pine are a nice, safe choice since they are too big for kittens to eat and gentle on delicate kitten paws.

Don't: Let Your Kitten Outside

The idea that cats need to be outside in order to be healthy is a myth. Your cat will have a much healthier and happier life if he or she is indoors, where far fewer threats of disease and injury exist. Keep your kitten inside when he or she is young, and staying inside will become a habit. You won't have to worry nearly as much about your cat sneaking outside and becoming lost or injured.

Do: Encourage Your Kitten to Play

Kittens can be frisky, pouncing and bouncing in your home. Some owners are afraid to allow this behavior because they want their kittens to be cuddly and quiet more often. However, running and playing is important for kittens' health and development and should be encouraged.

Wiggle strings, toss little toys, and engage your kitten in play when he or she feels frisky. Your kitten's muscles and bones will grow stronger, and he or she may even be mellower later on when the right is right for relaxing.

Don't: Leave Out Items That Could Be Dangerous

If you did not already cat-proof your home before bringing your kitten home, do so now. The following are a few items that could be hazardous to your kitten:

  • Poisonous houseplants, including holly, poinsettias, and wisteria

  • Cleaning products

  • Human and animal medications

  • Cords hanging from drapes

  • Loose, plugged-in electrical cords

Make sure you store all medications and cleaning products in cabinets up high where your kitten cannot reach them. Tie drape cords in knots, and unplug all electrical cords that are not in use.

Follow the tips above, and your kitten will enjoy a healthy, happy life with you. If you want a vet in the Little Rock area, contact Rodney Parham Animal Clinic. We offer routine puppy and kitten care, from vaccinations to deworming, as well as more specialized procedures.

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