Dr. Joyce Ashamalla
Dr. Joyce Ashamalla is the managing partner at Hinsdale Animal Hospital with Kremer Veterinary Service, as well as a partner at CARE Animal Emergency Hospital. She received her BS in Animal Sciences from the University of Illinois- Champaign Urbana, where she also completed her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine in 2007. She is AO certified, USDA-APHIS accredited, and is a member of the CVMA, ISVMA, AVMA.
Go ahead…try and think of anything as adorable as a kitten. These heart melting critters capture you the moment they look up at you with their little button eyes. Cats are very different by nature than dogs, as they are much more independent and come self-trained for the litter box and grooming. When it comes to how to raise a kitten, it’s very important to get them started down the road of life in a very healthy way, both physically and emotionally. In this blog, we will cover the important elements of how to raise a kitten, including vaccinations for kittens, what to feed kittens, and how to litter train a kitten, in order to set them up for success now and well into adulthood.
Bringing A Kitten Home
Making the transition from the shelter or birth home to a permanent residence can be a challenging one. Here are some best practices when it comes to bringing a kitten home.
- • When To Her Bring Home – Sometimes kittens are separated from her mother as early as 6 weeks old. This is not an ideal time as it is often best for the animal to remain with its siblings and mom for a few weeks longer. This extended time will help reduce confusion and anxiety, which will help the cat interact better with humans later. Most experts agree that bringing a kitten home between the age of 8-12 weeks is ideal.
- • First Visit To The Vet – The consensus among most vets is that a new kitten should be seen by the vet between 24-72 hours after being adopted. If you happen to have other animals at home, it is best to have the kitten see the vet before she arrives. Be sure to bring any medical history records with you so the vet can review them. The doctor will perform a physical exam on kitty and she will be weighed. Most likely a blood test and stool sample will be taken as well to check for any diseases/parasites.
Vaccinations For Kittens
The start of a happy, healthy life for a kitten begins with all of her needed vaccinations and shots. Usually, the initial schedule of vaccinations for kittens will begin at about 6-8 weeks and will continue until week 17. Of course throughout the life of the cat, there will be a roster of boosters and other needed shots (such as rabies) on an ongoing basis. It’s very important never to neglect vaccinations for kittens as they are critical to preventing disease and promoting the overall health of the animal.
Ok! She’s Home, Now What?
Following all the excitement, and anticipation, the big day has finally arrived. What happens next will depend on the type of environment you have in store for her. Here are some general guidelines based on what most people encounter when bringing a kitten home.
- • Meeting the Family – For the human members of the new family, it will be very hard to contain the excitement of having a new kitten in the home. Experts say that it’s best to stay as calm as possible to avoid causing anxiety in the animal. Also, it’s a good idea to let the kitten safely roam around the house as animals like to check out their environment. Don’t be alarmed if kitty hides under a table or couch for a while, as this is normal behavior.
• Introduction To Other Animals – Cats are territorial animals, so it’s important to introduce your new kitty to other animals with a specific plan in mind. Abruptly just putting two animals together for the first time will cause them both to go into survival mode and that often isn’t pretty. Many experts say that putting animals in separate rooms where they can only smell each other is a good introduction. A baby gate with a sheet over it could be the next step, followed by brief, supervised glimpses. Positive reinforcement for both animals along the way will be very helpful to keep the situation as calm as possible. Eventually the animals can meet nose to nose. Since kitty is small, be extra careful to ensure that she is not injured by larger animals. Keep a close eye on their interactions, always ready to break up any fights that might occur. Eventually peace will reign in the land again and all will be well.
What To Feed Kittens & How to Litter Train A Kitten
When determining what to feed kittens, the best kind of food is the type that has been formulated just for them at this age. Kitten food usually contains higher levels of protein as well as many minerals and vitamins, all designed to help build a healthy immune system, bones and teeth. Kitten food is available as kibble (dry) and in cans (wet). Your vet can answer your question of what to feed kittens and determine which type of dry or wet food would be best for them.
One of the really interesting things about cats is that they come pre-programmed to bury their waste. Your main task in how to litter train a kitten is to place her in the litter box. The kitten instantly recognizes the litter as a great spot for digging and burying, and will instinctively seek out the litter box the next time nature calls. The process of how to litter train a kitten can take some trial and error because some cats will be particular about the location of their litter boxes, the litter box itself, or the type of litter you use.
Love & Lots Of It
It’s also important to keep your new kitten mentally stimulated with lots of loving play and appropriate toys. Make sure everyone in the house spends time with kitty and shows her lots of love, patience and affection. Kittens can be rambunctious and mischievous animals, so understanding that ahead of time will go a long way. Even though cats come equipped with the desire to groom themselves, help her along with regular brushing, teeth cleaning, nail trimming etc.
There’s nothing better than bringing a kitten home. Learning how to raise a kitten includes giving them proper medical attention, the right food, and a good litter box. Starting them out with appropriate acclamation and years of loving attention and care will ensure that they live long, happy and healthy lives!
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