First Stage Kittenhood
“Kitten season” is quickly approaching. There is nothing as fun as a furry little kitten. The first life stage in a cat’s life is kittenhood (birth to 6 months). We recommend that you consider adopting 2 kittens at the same time. Kittens have a high play drive and inter-cat play peaks around 12 weeks of age. Toys offer an outlet for normal predatory play. Socialization is very important during this stage. Now is the time to expose the kittens to things they are likely to encounter during their lifetime (children, dogs, nail trims, grooming, cat carrier, car transport, leash walking, etc.). Now is the time to train the kitten and yourself in litter box hygiene. Litter box issues will be covered in future posts.
This is the time to enter into a partnership with a cat friendly veterinarian. Vaccines are recommended every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age. Your veterinarian will discuss this during the first visit and develop the right schedule for your kitten. All kittens should be tested for Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). This is crucial if there are other cats in the household. A fecal sample should be checked for parasites. Even if the sample is negative, the Center For Disease Control (CDC) recommends that kittens be dewormed every 2 weeks from 3-9 weeks of age and then monthly until the kitten reaches 6 months of age. Neutering your kitten is usually recommended by 6 months of age.
Nutrition is important in all life stages. The kitten should be introduced to different flavors and textures. The kitten should be fed to maintain a healthy weight for its body size. There should be a waist when viewed from above and the ribs and spine should be easily felt but not visible. Nutrition and obesity will be discussed in the future.
Please consider visiting your local shelter or rescue organization this spring and save the life of a kitten. The rewards are priceless.