Congratulations on the new addition to your family! Now that you have your small friend you may find yourself feeling slightly overwhelmed with all the things you need to think about, from collars and bells to healthcare. To make this a little easier for you and to ensure your small friend’s good health, safety and positive development the staff at Small Friends Veterinary Hospital are trained to assist you in selecting the correct products for your small friend and to advise you on healthcare issues.
What should I feed my small friend?
There are many cat foods available today and it can be difficult to know which to feed your kitten. Small Friends Veterinary Hospital recommends a complete and balanced premium dry food such as, Royal Canin or Science Diet. When being fed a “complete and balanced premium” diet your small friend is assured of getting all the nutrients it needs. There are many benefits of a dry food over a wet food: dry food offers your small friend a good crunch to keep their teeth clean, doesn’t smell, and is easy to store.
The amount of food that you are required to feed your cat can depend on a few factors, such as the brand of food used, whether your small friend has been desexed, their age and their size. The staff at Small Friends Veterinary Hospital are trained to help you select the correct food for your small friend. They can also offer advice and guidance on the quantity of food required and how and when to feed your small friend.
The only other thing your small friend requires is a nice large bowl of clean fresh water, which is refreshed daily. It is important that they have access to this water all day everyday.
My small friend has been having special meals cooked for him by the breeder. I can’t see myself doing this. What should I do?
Most kittens will come into your life having already been fed a certain food or diet by the breeder or previous owner. It is important that new owners are comfortable with the diet their small friend is on and should be aware that it is perfectly acceptable for you to change a healthy small friend’s diet to one that you may prefer – although it is important to move them onto a new food correctly. Kittens may have sensitive stomachs and therefore any change in food should be done gradually over the course of a week. Our staff can again advise you of how to go about this.
There are a lot of kitty-products available these days. How much of it do I really need?
There are a few basics that every feline small friend and their owner should have to get them through the day.
1. Collar (and perhaps a Lead and Harness)
All kittens require exercise and there is nothing nicer than going for a walk with your small friend. Yes, this is even possible with a cat! It is important you have a good quality, well fitted collar and it is important to purchase a cat collar that has a “release mechanism” of some kind. As cats climb and jump it is important that they can manage to get themselves loose if they are ever stuck on something. When walking your kitten you will need to use another collar without this safety mechanism, but we will discuss this further on down the article.
2. Pet Tag and Microchip
It is so important (and a government regulation) that your small friend be identifiable at all times. If your kitten happens to find itself in the unfortunate situation of being in the big wide world all alone a pet tag will help to get your kitten back into your arms. A microchip is permanently in place, cannot be removed or lost, and can allow vets, shelters and councils to look up your contact details from a database. For more information, please see our Microchip Information Page.
3. Grooming Equipment
Keeping your small friend clean is not just about looks and social acceptance, it is actually an important step in your small friend’s healthcare. A dirty coat can lead to skin complaints and eye and ear problems, it can also be a contributing factor to more serious illnesses. Preventing hairballs is also a important part of grooming cats. Most cats do groom themselves, but some cats are not very good at it, and for others it can become difficult as they get older. It then becomes a job for the human friend and it is very difficult to start grooming an older cat. For this reason we recommend grooming your small friend daily. By grooming your new kitten “little and often”, that is for short periods of time everyday, they will get used to grooming, making it a pleasurable experience for you both.
Grooming is made easier if you use a brush or comb especially designed for your cat’s coat type. Our staff can help you chose the correct grooming tool.
It is a good idea to start trimming your kitten’s nails when they are young. Maintaining neat short nails, by clipping them every few months, will stop them from getting too long and causing problems for you or your small friend. Our staff are more than happy to trim your small friend’s nails for you and are happy to teach you how to go about this safely and correctly.
A new kitten spends all of their day learning. To reinforce good behaviour and discourage bad behaviour Small Friends Veterinary Hospital recommends positive reinforcement – rewarding your small friend for good behaviour and ignoring the bad behaviour. The use of treats is a perfect reward. Small Friends Veterinary Hospital stocks a supply of healthy options to use.
All kittens need a nice comfortable and warm place to sleep day and night. Beds are a great way to give your small friend a territory of his or her own in their big friends’ house and is perfect for travelling small friends, offering the familiarity of home and the safety of your small friend’s own territory when in unfamiliar surroundings. It is important that the bed you choose for your small friend is washable as in these early days your kitten may have a few accidents! Small Friends Veterinary Hospital stocks Snooza bedding and our staff are trained to assist you in selecting the correct bed for your small friend.
Toys are an important part of a kitten’s growth and are a great tool for stimulating your kitten. It is important to ensure you pick appropriate toys for your small friend. Make sure your toy has no small pieces that may come off or anything that your kitten may choke on. Also make sure their toys are sturdy and can withstand those tough teeth that your kitten has or will soon grow. All playtime with toys should be supervised.
Kittens are very playful and adventurous and will find places to hide and high places to make them feel safe, so it is a good idea to have a good look around your home and safeguard your kitten from dangers. For example keeping the toilet seat down and covering the fish tank!
A scratching post is a very important ‘toy’ for your new kitten, especially if you would like to keep your couch in one piece! Offering your kitten a scratching post and getting them used to using it whilst they are still young is always easier than trying to teach them once they have got used to scratching away on something else.
Is it possible to train my kitten to walk on a lead?
Yes. Like puppies, kittens can be trained to walk on a lead. It is best if this training can begin early in your kitten’s lifetime. It is usually easiest to use a harness rather than a collar, as a cat collar’s “safety release mechanism” will mean your cat’s collar will come off when your cat pulls on the lead. Before taking your kitten out of your own home we recommend you ensure your kitten’s harness is well fitted, and your kitten has had a chance to practice in the safety of your home or backyard.
Before taking your kitten outside Small Friends Veterinary Hospital recommends ensuring their vaccination and worming schedule is underway. When out and about, Small Friends Veterinary Hospital recommends keeping your kitten on hard surfaces which are visibly clean until your kitten vaccination schedule is complete, just to ensure they are not exposed to other animal’s germs.
My kitten will be a completely indoors cat. Do I need to worry about a pet tag or microchip?
Accidents can happen. Cats can slip between your legs whilst you hold a door open, doors can be left open or unlatch and swing open with a little pressure, cats can even learn to open doors or windows without you realising! We recommend that all kittens are microchipped so if your small friend happens to go missing they can be identified and returned home quickly and easily. A pet tag is useful until your cat slips their collar, which is more likely when they find themselves out of their home turf. The ACT government requires all cat be identifiable. For more information, please see our Microchips Information Page.
When does my kitten need to see the vet?
Your kitten will probably come with their first vaccination. We recommend having their second vaccination 4 weeks after the first to ensure your small friend remains protected. If your kitten hasn’t had their first vaccination, then now is the time to arrange an appointment with our vet Dr Matt. Whilst visiting Dr Matt your kitten will receive a full health check as well as any vaccination or worming they require. You will also have the opportunity to ask any questions you have about caring for your new kitten. The staff at Small Friends Veterinary Hospital love kittens and therefore this appointment is always a lot of fun for you and your small friend. By ensuring your kitten has a good time at these crucial first appointments your kitten will learn to enjoy coming to Small Friends Veterinary Hospital. For more information on Vaccinations and Health Checks, please see our Vaccination Information Page and our Health Check Information Page. To arrange a vaccination and health check appointment please call Small Friends Veterinary Hospital on 02 6262 2233.
Worming is an important part of the health of your kitten and your family. This is of special concern to families with young children for humans can catch worms off our small friends and young children who always have their hands in their mouths are at greater risk of this. For further information on worming please see our Worming Information Page
If you have any other queries about raising your new kitten, our staff at Small Friends Veterinary Hospital will be able to assist you. Please call Small Friends Veterinary Hospital on 02 6262 2233.
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