Adopting a new pet is usually exciting and nerve wrecking. You’ve probably spent the last few weeks trawling the internet for the best litter boxes, cages, carriers, beds, foods, toys and even outfits for your new furkid.
Or it was a spontaneous decision made under the influence of the alluring kitten eyes.
Eitherway, you’ve now got a new responsibility to keep this new furry being alive and well. Kittens are cute but are really fragile especially if they’re newborn.
Hence, here are 7 things that you should know and remember to ensure a healthy purring kitten.
1. Kittens need to stay warm
Kittens under the ages of 4 weeks do not have the ability to thermoregulate. This basically means that they would require a little extra attention in ensuring that they’re living in a warm environment. The ideal temperature is said to be around 29 degrees Celcius so perhaps a cozy area to snuggle into could do just fine with our Malaysian heat.
A good tip would be to:
- Place the crate in a non drafty room
- Cover the entire bottom of the cage with cloth
- Provide a bed made from a small litter box or a food carton. This is so your kitten would not opt to sleep in their litter boxes.
2. Kitten baths should be warm, quick and gentle
As kittens do not have the fat reserves they require to keep their body temperatures in check, a quick and warm bath can help them stay clean and healthy. Do be careful in ensuring that they do not get too cold during or after a bath as they may become more susceptible to illness or infections.
Here are some tips in giving your kitten a bath with minimum stress and maximum efficiency:
- Timing: Bath time when they’re most mellow. Tiring them out with a play session before it could help.
- Place: You could fill a shallow tub or the sink with some warm water and carry out the bath anywhere that wouldn’t have a cold breeze coming through. You could also place a towel at the bottom so your kitten will have something to grip onto which could help to lower their stress levels.
- Watch the claws: ASPCA experts suggest giving their claws a little trim before bath time for your protection.
- 1:5 ratio of cat shampoo to water: Human or dog shampoos dry out their skin so be sure to use cat shampoos that specifically state it’s suitable for kittens. Unscented dish soap is also a safe and easy alternative as it’s gentle and inexpensive.
- Watch their eyes and ears: If possible use a damp cloth to clean those areas and not spray water at them. Soap is not necessary but if it is, make sure to dilute it well.
- Wrap and dry: Using a large towel, wrap your kitten into a cute burrito and gently dry them. You could use a blow dryer on the lowest heat setting if it doesn’t mind the noise.
- Finally, praise, praise and praise: To make bath time a positive experience, be sure to praise your kitten and perhaps end it with its favourite treat. This teaches them that bath time could be an enjoyable experience!
3. Keep their living conditions clean and sanitised
Besides a warm and cozy environment, kittens also require a clean place to live in as they are very susceptible to cross infections, fleas, diseases and parasites.
Your other cats or visiting cats may be carriers of infectious diseases even if they do not exhibit symptoms like:
- Sneezing, squinting/swollen eyes, nasal/ocular discharge
- Vomiting, diarrhea, poor appetite
- Itchy skin (pruritus), visible external parasites such as fleas
- Suspicious areas of hair loss, Wood’s positive skin lesions
- Unexplained weight loss
Plus, always ensure that their water bowl is clean with a fresh supply of water and does not contain algae.
Two infectious and incurable viruses that you should protect your furkid from are the feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). Both of these viruses can be diagnosed via a blood test that detects the FIV antibody and FeLV antigen circulating in the blood.
4. Only feed them milk meant for kittens
Contrary to popular belief, kittens must not be fed cows milk as it is not easily digestible for them and would give them diarrhea. If a foster mother cat is not available, kitten formula can be purchased at your regular pet shops.
Additionally, milk should never be given as a replacement for water as it can lead to dehydration.
Should your kitten require to be bottle fed, you should never feed it in a reclined position on its back as it could cause it to aspirate.
5. Wean your kitten gradually
Your kitten may be ready to wean or get off the bottle once they start biting at the nipples and is able to lick the milk off your fingers.
Here’s an idea of a gradual transition:
- Milk from a spoon
- Milk from a shallow dish
- Mixture of milk and canned kitten food
- Thicker kitten food with water on the side
As weaning kittens are generally messy eaters, you should always ensure that your kittens are clean and dry before putting them back in their cages.
6. Kittens require small amounts of high protein food
Typically by 8 weeks old, a kitten should be fully weaned and ready to consume solid foods. Hence you could introduce small amounts of high in protein foods such as cooked egg yolk, boneless fish, and cooked liver.
As your kitten grows older and develops a stronger stomach, other types of meat can be introduced.
Feel free to chat with our certified pet nutritionists to find out what your furkid should be consuming in a healthy diet.
Speaking of pet nutritionists,
7. Remember to schedule a visit to the vet
This is especially important if your new kitten isn’t the only furkid of yours. Besides being able to ask for pet advice from a professional, the vet should be able to:
- Check your furkid for pesky parasites
- Test them for diseases like FiV and FeIV
- Examine the potential of other medical or hereditary conditions
- Prescribe appropriate vaccines and course of medications
Caring for a new furkid can be an exciting learning curve and we’re excited to help you give the best you can to your pet, nutrition-wise. Hence, our Petchef Advisors are here to answer any questions you’d have regarding your furkids feeding and dietary wellness.