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Congratulations on your new kitten! CareVets has put some important tips together to help you & your new friend.
Kittens require typically three vaccinations to aid in the prevention of various diseases. These commence at 6-8 weeks of age and are repeated at 3-4-week intervals until 16 weeks of age or older.
Cat Flu (Herpesvirus and Calicivirus)
This disease can be fatal in young kittens and typically leads to recurring episodes of illness throughout its life during periods of high stress. Cat flu symptoms include nasal discharge, sneezing, sore eyes, not eating, lethargy and death.
Chlamydia psittici is a bacterium that can be another cause of feline upper respiratory disease, especially eye infections. It is included in the core vaccine in high risk areas.
This virus is especially fatal in young unvaccinated kittens. It is highly contagious and causes severe infection that causes gastrointestinal, immune system and nervous system disease.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
Just like the human version (HIV), FIV leads to Feline AIDS in cats and is transferred by direct contact through cat bite wounds. Annual boosters are necessary to maintain protection, after an initial 3-injection course 2-4 weeks apart.
Leukaemia Virus (FeLV)
Feline Leukaemia is a fatal disease that impairs the cat’s immune system and can lead to the development of cancers. This virus is transferred via cats living in close contact, such as sharing food bowls, litter trays, as well as bite wounds. Annual boosters are necessary to maintain protection.
Certain areas of New Zealand now require your cat to be microchipped. Even in areas that do not we highly recommend having your cat microchipped as it helps reunite you if they get lost and can even save their life.
Cats are obligate carnivores so have a high protein requirement and require taurine in their diet. Dog food, caught prey and table scraps do not usually have enough protein or the taurine required to ensure your cat receives a complete and balanced diet.
Premium cat food is nutritionally complete and guaranteed to cater for all your cat’s needs. Wet food is also important as many cats on dry diets often don’t drink enough water. Adding an appropriate wet food to their diet can help them meet their recommended water intake.
Kittens should be on a kitten food until neutering or about 1 year of age when they should move onto an adult maintenance diet. Each life stage diet contains nutrients that are tailored specific to your cat’s needs at that age. Kitten diets help growth and development, adult diets prevent obesity and senior diets contain nutrients that prevent age related diseases such as kidney disease and arthritis.
Dental disease is also common in cats as they do not clean their own teeth. Premium dental diets (such as Hills t/d and Royal Canin Dental), available only from your Vet, will help slow the build-up of tartar. Regular dental check-ups are recommended to keep their teeth in tip-top shape!
Worm & Flea Prevention
Kittens should be wormed more regularly while young as they are more vulnerable (every 2 weeks until 3 months old, then monthly until 6 months old). Throughout the rest of your cat’s life worming should be done every 3 months with a good quality wormer. Most topical flea and mite treatments are applied to the back of the neck, typically once per month. Some flea treatments are combination products that double as wormers, killing both external and most internal parasites. Your vet will be able to advise on the best treatment plan for your kitten.
Cats drink more frequently from a moving water source and drinking fountains are available. Urinary crystals and urinary tract infections are more common in cats that do not drink enough water. Adding wet food to their diet can also help.
Cats are able to have kittens from 5 months of age – still kittens themselves! All kittens should be desexed to prevent unwanted kittens, undesirable behaviours and potential health problems. Your kitten can typically be desexed from 4-6 months of age. There is no benefit to your female cat having a litter of kittens before having them desexed, if anything it is the opposite with the risks of ovarian and mammary cancer being increased by pregnancies and each heat cycle.
We strongly recommend getting pet insurance for your kitten. As much as we like to think “it will never happen to me” you never know when an emergency may happen. From broken limbs, ingested poison & car accidents, there are times when vet bills can be unexpected and cause us financial and emotional stress at a time we don’t need it! Having pet insurance can give you peace of mind that you won’t have to make difficult decisions at a stressful time and can ensure your pet gets the best treatment immediately.
There are many different plans offered by several providers in New Zealand and we would suggest you do your research on which plan is the best fit for you and your cat. Some companies may offer a complimentary trial policy through CareVets, speak to our team for details.
- Vaccinations & annual wellness checks
- Nutritionally balanced food
- Fresh water
- Parasite control
- Cat cage
- Litter tray & litter
- Water fountain
- Pet insurance
- Brush and nail clippers
- Scratching post
- Cat door
- Safety-clip collar with bells