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Kitten Basics – Ready to Own Your First Kitten!

Ready to own your first kitten? Lets look at some kitten basics.

It is hard not to want a kitten. They are crazy adorable! Plus if you spend any amount of time on the internet, all the cute kitten meme’s might just drive you into a kitten frenzy. As cute and fun as they are, being a kitten is a pretty important time in their life. This is when you set them up to be healthy cats.

 

Make sure you know your kittens age. You don’t need to know the minute they were born, but knowing how many weeks old they are is important. During the first 10 weeks of their life there are some important things that need to happen. Many shelters and breeders will wait until their kittens are older than 10 weeks before allowing them to be rehomed, to help make sure that the kittens are properly tended to. But sometimes we find kittens that have been abandoned and rehome them ourselves.

New Kitten: Getting Started

Bring your kitten to the vet for an exam. Your vet will want to check out your kittens overall health. He will look for issues like birth defects, parasites, feline lukemia, and nutrition. But this is also a great time to get some advice from your vet.

Ask your vet about:

  • Diet: what to feed them, how much, how often, when to switch from kitten food to adult food.
  • Controlling Fleas and Ticks- discuss your options. At Albuquerque Vetco we recommend Frontline to control fleas & ticks as the best year round treatment.
  • Best way to litterbox train your kitten.
  • Signs of illness: How to know when you kitten is sick and when to bring them into the vet.
  • How to introduce them to your other pets.
  • Vaccination schedule: what vaccinations do you need and when do you need to bring her in to get them.
  • When should you microchip?

When it comes to health, the best place to start is with their diet. If you are giving your kitten good quality food, you are setting them up for a healthy life. Food affects nutrition, overall health, coat health, energy, dental health, and more. Good food is a building block for a healthy cat. You want to make sure the food is a good quality and that you are not feeding them too much. People are often surprised at the amount of food a kitten needs and tend to over feed. An overweight kitten might be cute, but it can set them up for long term health problems. When they are young, it is often good to feed them 3 times a day, then scale down to 2 times a day when they hit about 6 months old. Consult with your vet about the best feeding schedule.

Always make sure to keep fresh water available for your kitten. You do not need to give them milk. Though many people think that milk is healthy for kittens, it is more likely to just give them diarrhea. Plus, do you really want your kitten who is still learning how to use the litter box to have diarrhea? Probably not. Give the milk a big skip.

 

 

It is during kittenhood that your cat learns to be sociable. It is important to handle them and play with them. If you have kids, make sure the kids play with them. If you want your cat to be ok with dogs, this is a good time to introduce them to the family dog. It is during this social play that your kitten will form their emotional bond with you and your family.

It is a good idea to give your kitten a safe space for them to retreat to. This is where they can be quiet and calm and undisturbed. Don’t put it right next to their litter box, and keep their litterbox and food separate. Much like people, cats don’t like to sleep or eat next to their toilet.

 

We have a great kitten checklist to help you get started with your cute furry new member of your family.

 

Can My Cat Get Acid Reflux?

albuquerque cat nail biting

albuquerque cat nail bitingCan my cat get acid reflux?

The answer is yes. Acid reflux, aka heart burn, is the reverse flow of stomach (gastric) or intestinal fluid into the esophagus. This is often associated with chronic vomiting and is relatively common in cats. Though for most conditions, older cats are the ones at risk, with acid reflux it is younger cats that are at a great risk.

Severe acid reflux can cause esphagitis, which can be very painful and can cause long term damage to their esophagus.

Symptoms of acid reflux in cats

  • Regurgitating of food – this is when a cat spits up their food, it has not yet been digested. They will typically just lower their head and spit it up without any stomach muscle contractions or gagging.
  • Painful swallowing – often you will notice mewling, howling, or crying when trying t swallow
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Salivation (aka drool)
  • Fever

 

Acid reflux is caused when the opening between the stomach and esophagus relax. This can happen due to improper positioning during anesthesia, failure to fast your pet prior to anesthesia, congenital hiatal hernia, or long term vomiting.

This is one of the reasons why it is so important to follow the fasting recommendations of your vet prior to any surgery.

If your cat has long term vomiting, for any reason, they need to see the vet immediately. It can be a sign of a bigger health issue but can cause long term damage such as an acid reflux condition.

 

What is the Treatment?

Sometime you may be asked by your vet to do a day or two of fasting with your cat and then put them on a low-fat, low-protein diet in small frequent feedings.  Depending on the severity of the acid reflux, your vet may prescribe a medication. No matter what DO NOT give your cat Pepto-Bismol, or any bismuth subsalicylate treatment. Though it helps humans with acid reflux it is unsafe for cats.

If you are concerned your cat may have acid reflux it is a good idea to bring them to the vet for an evaluation and switch them to a low fat food.

 

Incontinence and Cats with No Tails

manx cat incontinenceManx cats are a breed of cat from the Isle of Manx. Their most distinctive quality is that they often have no tail or just a stub of a tail. The biggest problem for the ones that are born without tails is that it is often accompanies by spinal problems. This hereditary issue is known as Manx Syndrome. The most common spinal cord issue Manx cats have is spina bifida, which is where part of their spinal cord is exposed at birth. This can cause a strange gait, or leave them unable to urinate or defecate properly. Other issues can include missing vertebra, rear leg paralysis, or malformed pelvis.

The good thing is that issues with incontinence develops early in kittenhood. Most owners will never have to deal with this issue, but breeders might. If you have Manx kittens and any of them are born with spinal issues, speak to your vet about options for the kitten.

One of the most common in Manx cats is the missing vertebrae. Without that tail vertebrae the spinal nerves don’t necessarily connect properly, as they do with a tailed cat. If you do have an incontinent cat, there are ways to help ensure they stay healthy. Make sure you have regular visits with your vet. They will need more personal grooming attention to avoid skin burn from urine, and both health and grooming issues can arise from feces staying on their fun and skin. Some options for care may include keeping them in an area where it is ok for them to accidents, or putting them in diapers for cats…oh yes, they exist. Again, speaking with your vet can help you decide what is the best course. You can also speak with your vet about any potential surgical options, for some cats with this issue, there are surgeries that can help.
There are other reasons why a cat may have no tail, typically due to injury. Cats who have lost their tail due to injury will have other issues and complications related to the nature of their injury. This could include incontinence but not necessarily.

 

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Disclaimer

The information provided on this website is written by Vetco staff. All information is meant to be informational and is not meant as veterinary advice. If you have a health question regarding your pet, their treatment or anything concerning their veterinary care, please call Vetco to consult with a veterinarian.