Once you’ve had your kitten for around about a month there’ll be a lot of things that you’ll need to take in to consideration to make sure that he/she stays healthy and happy. Let’s take a look at some of our top tips on caring for a kitten between the ages of four weeks to twelve weeks old.
Once your cat gets to the age of four to six weeks you should consult your vet about starting a worming treatment – you’ll be given an appropriate wormer that will come with dosing instructions that should be followed very carefully. Treat your kitten for roundworms every two to three weeks until he/she reaches the age of four months old. Then for roundworms and tapeworms every two to six months from the age of four months old and up; the frequency of treatment should be measured and dependent upon how much your young cat goes outside, hunts and whether they have fleas.
The best way to make your kitten easily identifiable is to have him/her microchipped. The microchip – a similar size to a grain of rice – is injected under your kitten’s skin between the shoulder blades and doesn’t cause any discomfort. The chip has a unique bar code which is registered along with your details on a national database. This bar code can be read by scanners meaning that if your kitten gets lost you can be reunited quickly.
Your kitten will need to be vaccinated to provide protection against dangerous infections such as feline influenza. The first set of vaccinations will need to be administered by your vet once your kitten is around the age of eight to nine weeks, with the second set at around 12 weeks. To be safe your kitten should be kept indoors and away from other cats for ten days after the second injections.
Letting Your Kitten Outside
Once your kitten has had his/her full set of first vaccinations – 13 weeks to 14 weeks old – you’ll be able to let them experience the outdoors. The best thing to do is accompany your kitten in your garden, making sure it is dry and quiet. Allow your kitten to explore the immediate surroundings for short periods at a time, gradually getting longer each time until they can clearly find their way back to your home from within the garden – once your kitten has been neutered then you’ll be able to leave him/her unsupervised.
You’ll also need to consider cat flaps. If you already have a cat then your kitten will learn to use a cat flap by watching them. If you do not have another cat, then once you have installed the cat flap, teach your kitten to use it by propping open the flap and enticing him/her through into the house with food or a toy.
If your kitten is male then he can be neutered from the age of around five months. Whilst this may seem cruel it has many benefits; once he has been neutered your cat will spend less time roaming in search of mates, meaning there will be less chance of him getting into fights with other cats or being hit by a car – it will also make him less likely to spray indoors to mark his territory.
If your kitten is female then she can be spayed from the age of five to six months to prevent unwanted litters. Having your kitten spayed will take away the stress brought on by pregnancy, giving birth, the care and rehoming of kittens and ‘calling’ – the loud meowing that a female cat makes to attract a mate.
When your kitten starts to go outside you may want to teach him/her to go to the toilet in the garden rather than the litter tray. To do this, gradually move the litter tray towards the door to the garden over a few days and spread a few handfuls of the litter from your cat’s tray onto well dug soil; this will encourage your kitten to go to the toilet and dig there. Once your kitten has started using the garden you can then do-away with the litter tray.
You should regularly groom your kitten as it a) keeps their fur and skin in good condition, b) allows you to check for any signs of illness and c) helps to build up the bond between you.
When it comes to fleas, the best practice is to prevent rather than react and treat. Consult with your veterinarian about the flea prevention treatments that are available and decide which you’d prefer to use; many owners find dab-on treatments easier to use and less stressful than using sprays.
So there we have it: hopefully these tips will help you to guide your kitten into adulthood. Up next we will be taking a look at socialisation – focusing on how to introduce your kitten into a home that has small children, other animals or indeed, both.