I live in an older home that was built in the 1920’s or 1930’s in North Texas along with 5 other people – three of us walk on two legs, while the other three walk on four. You guessed it. We have pets – felines to be more exact – but, our attitude has always been that these are our children, more specifically, furry little humans in four-legged bodies. There are 2 males – one is a long-haired tiger named “TuffY” that is 9 years old and 16 pounds, the other a short-haired tiger named “Simba”, who is approaching his “terrible twos” by virtue of his physical age, but in reality has been there since birth.
There is also a 3-year old Calico female that was errantly named after one of my favorite beverages – “Sam Adams” Boston lager – but has since been named “Samantha Adams” due to overlooking the fact that 95% of all Calicos are typically female. She was imported into the household along with me in August of 2007, when I relocated from California to Texas. She is now affectionately called “Sam.”
My sister has appropriately coined the term “Catitude” to properly display that part of their personalities that is definitely a human characteristic concealed in cat’s clothing. For these reasons, along with other personality quirks and the fact that they are strictly indoor cats, they have been bestowed with the following nicknames.
Tuffy is referred to as “Dingbat” because, according to my sister, “when he goes outside, he has the tendency to get stupid.” Simba has been more than appropriately nicknamed “Busy Ass” because he is continually trying our patience, getting into trouble, leaving a damage trail in his wake, and testing the 9-lives theory about feline longevity. And Sam . . . . . well she is the “Diva”, named as such by my Sister’s son because of her unwillingness to associate with the two males. Suffice it to say, she has a marked propensity for expressing that “catitude” while loudly spitting at either one of them whenever they dare to approach her.
Simba and Tuffy have been members of the household since the kitten stage, whereas Sam adopted me. So I never really experienced that with her. It is more than obvious that all three of them have been loved and cared for every step of the way. However, it is even more apparent that this is really their house – they merely allow us to occupy space within. Despite the cynicism and humor above, it is their care and well-being that is the topic of this content.
Cats are a joy – no big secret there. When you bring home a new kitten, it is an exciting time experienced by all members of the household. And despite the fact that there is much responsibility involved when you have feline pets, there are 6 aspects regarding their care that seem to be the most commonly asked questions about their well-being.
1) Is it necessary to have my kitten vaccinated every few weeks as they are growing? My suggestion here is that you rely on the information that you will find at the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP). The AAFP differentiates between two classifications of vaccines – specifically, “Core” and “Non-Core” vaccinations. It is the core vaccinations that are the critical ones and they include the following:
Distemper (a.k.a. panleukopenia) and upper respiratory viruses (e.g. calicivirus and herpesvirus)
Feline leukemia (a.k.a. FeLV)
2) My kitten’s fecal samples are negative (clear), so why do I need to keep paying to have them de-wormed? The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that your kitten be de-wormed beginning at three weeks of age, and done several times thereafter despite negative fecal samples. Hookworms and roundworms have the tendency to infect your kitten through the mother cat’s milk. Additionally, the environment is a breeding ground for contaminants as well and can also make your kitten quite sick. The typical signs of infection are diarrhea and vomiting.
Several weeks can pass once your kitten has been infected before the worms mature in your kitten’s intestinal tract. Fecal tests conducted by the veterinarian look for eggs that are passed from the adult worms. The tests can also be negative even when the infection is already present. This is the main reason to de-worm your kitten more than once – to ensure that worms are no longer present.
3) Is there a particular routine to follow where grooming my kitten is concerned? When you consider how important good grooming and hygiene habits are for human beings, then you should realize that the grooming of your new kitten is equally as important. The following are key areas where you should establish a grooming routine for your kitten.
The bottom line is that regular kitten grooming makes housekeeping easier on you. Believe it or not, those regular brushings that you afford your kitten will help you when it comes to keeping your house cleaner. Additionally, it also helps to prevent your kitten from getting hairballs (the subject of a future article). When it comes to purchasing a brush for your kitten, remember that the length of their coat will determine the type of brush that you purchase.
4) What can I do about my overly energetic kitten? First and foremost, you need to realize that your kitten can go from being “knocked-out” asleep to romping around the house like a 4-legged tornado. This is normal behavior. And there are varying levels of that “tornado”, but this shouldn’t be perceived as abnormal behavior. You should also be aware of the fact that there are multiple stages of this during the day. However, for a kitten to be feisty and playful through the night while napping throughout the day is also normal behavior.
Here’s a tip – spend time playing with the kitten and more than just once in a while. You should take on playing with your kitten a couple times daily as being part of your responsibility to them. Granted, playing with your kitten will create a bond between you and them, but it also means that you may be able to get some sleep at night.
5) How do I know if my kitten is growing properly? A standard rule of thumb with early feline growth patterns is that a kitten typically gains about 100grams per week during the first six months of its life. Sometimes they will gain up to 1 pound per month, and the males tend to gain weight quicker and be larger than the females. There are three things that you should notice in order to realize that your kitten is growing the right way. Your kitten should be:
exhibiting a playful behavior
having normal bowel movements
Here are a few suggestions. If there is a concern about your kitten’s behavior and growth, then by all means, consult your veterinarian. If you are raising the kitten on a bottle-feeding regimen, then keep a journal daily to note how much weight they are gaining on a daily basis (your veterinarian will appreciate this). Finally, another key aspect is your kitten’s ribcage. They should have some padding around the ribs, so that they are not sticking out, so to speak. If their ribs are too prominent, then you should contact your veterinarian for an appointment.
6) When is it necessary for me to take my kitten to the veterinarian? Kittens come into the house from a variety of different places. Typically, they come from one of the following sources:
Breeders (or a “cattery”)
the outdoors in general
Long before you adopted them and brought them into your home, they could have picked up a health condition or disease from another cat and just started showing signs of something being wrong since you brought them home. The following 7 behaviors (or signs) should be perceived as “red flags” and you should get your kitten to the vet ASAP:
Black ear discharge that accompanies frequent itching and/or “digging” at the ear
Continual or frequent vomiting
Diarrhea or (conversely) a difficulty passing bowel movements
Discharge from the eye or nose and sneezing (could indicate an upper respiratory tract infection
Lethargy and lack of eating
Loss of hair or a rash
Not defecating or urinating in the litter-box, as well as noticing that they are straining while they are using it