Scrolling through Facebook one evening, you almost zipped right by a post listing an adorable litter of kittens for sale. Shouting excitedly for your family to gather around, you pointed at your favorite.
“She’s gorgeous! Plus, she’s right down the road! What are we waiting for?” you begged, encouraging your family to rush out the door, and meet this adorable ball of fluff. By the time you messaged the neighbor about the kittens, only one was the left—your favorite. Worried she would be claimed by someone else, you immediately told your neighbor you would take her, sight unseen. After all, you saw her cute picture and it was love at first sight, which would only be stronger in person.
That evening, you and your family picked up your new kitten, despite being unprepared to welcome a cat into your home. Not completely sure what a tiny kitten needs to be happy and healthy as they grow, you turn to your favorite trusted resource for all things pets—Lebanon Animal Hospital’s website, especially the blog. While reading the blog posts related to feline care, you discovered cats, like dogs, can suffer from heatstroke and tick-borne illnesses. You also bookmarked an important post for future reference—Top 10 Cat Emergencies.
In addition to plenty of love and attention, you knew your kitten required a few basics, such as food and a litter box, but you wanted to ensure your new furry bundle had everything necessary for a long, healthy, happy life. After researching some more on what your new kitty needed, you unearthed several nuggets of critical information on raising a content cat.
Socialization is not only for puppies, and doesn’t end after a certain time frame. In fact, socialization should be a lifelong process of positive exposure to new experiences in a fun, rewarding fashion. Although a kitten’s socialization period is much shorter and earlier than a puppy’s—only 2 to 7 weeks of age—and has likely ended by the time you welcome a new kitten into your home, that is no reason to slack on socialization.
A few key situations every kitten should be properly exposed and accustomed to include:
- Handling and restraint
- Grooming, including brushing, nail trimming, ear cleaning, and bathing
- New people
- Strange pets and other animals
- Traveling in a cat carrier
- Various textures and surfaces
- Different food flavors, in dry and canned forms
- Loud noises, such as thunderstorms, children, and the vacuum cleaner
When socializing your kitten, ensure every experience is positive, and on their own terms. Never force your kitten to approach strange people or pets, or shove your pet into a carrier. Instead, offer plenty of treats, and allow your kitten to approach at their own pace, to make each situation rewarding. Monitor their body language for stress or anxiety signs, and slow down if you notice warning indicators. Remember, socialization should occur throughout your kitten’s life, well into adulthood, because socialization not only provides a foundation for an easy-to-handle cat, but also reduces generalized fear and anxiety, especially in new situations.
Kitten wellness care
Routine wellness care, which includes a proper vaccination protocol, ensures your furry pal is in tip-top physical shape, and helps stave off various potentially life-threatening illnesses and diseases, such as rabies and feline leukemia. In addition to vaccinations, your kitten’s wellness care should include the following, to help your new pet live a long and healthy life:
- Internal and external parasite screening and prevention
- Diet and nutrition recommendations
- Litter box guidelines, to prevent inappropriate elimination
- Behavioral counseling
- Advice for appropriate mental and physical enrichment, such as scratching posts, climbing towers, lookout perches, and toys that cater to a cat’s predatory nature
- Weight management
- Regular physical exams, to check for hidden disease
- Baseline diagnostic testing, to monitor normal values
At each wellness appointment, your Lebanon Animal Hospital veterinarian will discuss any concerns you may have about your kitten’s health, in addition to any potential issues they may have noticed, and how to correct them. Each wellness visit will be packed full of useful tips and preventive medicine, to help your kitty live for many healthy, happy years.
We are your best resource for feline health care, so call us to schedule a wellness visit, and we will help ensure your new kitten enjoys many happy, healthy years cuddled on your lap.