Bringing your new kitten home can be one of the most exciting yet daunting experiences you have with your new pet. It can be very confusing knowing what to do and when. This is a guide to the first year of preventative healthcare.
A kitten can have his/her first vaccination at 9 weeks of age and the second vaccination is given at 12 weeks of age.
In cats we can vaccinate against "Flu" (or Feline Upper Respiratory Tract Disease), Feline Infectious Enteritis and Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV). For more infomation on these diseases please click here
Fleas can become a big problem in a short space of time, one flea can become 1,000 in just 21 days! Adult fleas jump onto your cat for a blood meal, they can cause irritation to the skin which can lead to intense scratching, hair loss and skin infections. In addition they can also act as carriers for tapeworm and if the infestation is severe, can lead to anaemia.
Adult fleas can lay up to 50 eggs each day. These eggs fall off your pet onto the floor where they hatch into larvae. Larvae will move away from light and bury deep into carpets or furnishings, they feed on the dirt and dust in your carpet. At this stage they can ingest worm eggs present in the environment. Larvae then spin themselves a cocoon known as pupae. Pupae can lay dormant in the environment for long periods of time. They hatch into adult fleas when they sense carbon dioxide, heat or vibrations. If the larvae has eaten a worm egg, the adult flea will be infected. When your pet is grooming he / she may ingest an infected flea and therefore become infected with worms.
The best way to prevent fleas is to regularly protect your pet and home against fleas with monthly treatments of a prescription product, for example Frontline Combo. Regularly vacuuming your home and washing your pet's bedding above 60oC will help to remove as many eggs as possible.
The two most common types of worm found in cats in the UK are roundworms and tapeworms although hookworms, whipworms and lungworms can also be seen. Your pet can get worms from infected fleas, hunting/scavenging or from contaminated soil.
Tapeworms are segmented worms. You may see small segments passed in your cat's faeces, these contain eggs which help spread the worms to other pets. Tapeworms attach to your pet's gut wall and feed from the nutrients in their blood.
Roundworms are smooth and look like spaghetti strings. If your pet has a heavy infestation you may see whole worms passed in your kitten's faeces or vomit. Roundworms live freely in the gut, feeding directly from the gut contents.
Symptoms to look out for are licking their bottom more frequently, worms or worm segments in the faeces or on bedding, diarrhoea, vomiting or a round bloated look to your kitten's abdomen.
There are many ways to help reduce the chances of your pet getting a worm burden, including safe disposal of faeces, routinely treating your kitten for fleas, preventing your pet eating carcasses and regularly worming your pet.
A kitten should be wormed every 2 weeks until he / she is 12 weeks old, then monthly until 6 months old and once every three months after that. Cats that like to hunt should be wormed monthly.
Male and female cats can be neutered from six months of age. Neutering your cat will prevent unwanted litters of kittens, as well as behavioural issues. Cats that have not been neutered are more likely to spray urine in the house, fight (which can increase the chance of being exposed to feline leukaemia virus), wander further and be more likely to be involved in an accident. Female cats in season will often cry and roll around on the floor as if they are in pain. Although cats can be allowed outside after they are fully vaccinated, it is often worth keeping them indoors until they have been neutered to prevent an unexpected pregnancy.
A microchip is like a computer chip about the size of a grain of rice. It contains a 15 digit number that can only be read by using a scanner. Each number is individual and is attached to a national database that contains the specific details pertaining to the owner's name, address and telephone number. Whenever a stray cat is taken to a veterinary surgery or animal shelter it will be scanned to check for a chip. If a cat has a chip his/her owner can be traced and contacted within a matter of minutes and reunited with their pet. The microchip is implanted in the scruff of the neck during an appointment or while the animal is under anaesthetic for neutering. It is not recommended to allow a pet to go outside before it is microchipped. For more information on microchipping please click here.
We recommend the Royal Canin cat food range, consisting of a weaning food, a growth food then a neutered adult cat food. There is then a senior range once your cat is over 7 years old. We recommend Royal Canin food as it contains the highest quality ingredients and has the added benefit of digestive security and dental benefits. It also affects the pH of the urine to prevent build up of urinary crystals which can be a problem for male cats. Dry food helps to keep your cat's teeth cleaner, as well as being cheaper to feed per day than wet food. If you wish to feed your cat wet food it is advised that at 18 months of age you train your cat to accept having his / her teeth brushed as part of a daily routine to keep them healthy and free from plaque and gingivitis.
For a 4kg neutered adult cat a 3.5kg bag of neutered food would last approximately 53 days and could cost as little as £0.42 per day to feed.
Vet's bills can be unexpected and often quite large. Veterinary treatment has progressed and a greater number of treatments / surgery options are available. Insurance gives you the peace of mind to know that if you were to receive an unexpected bill, you would not have to struggle with your finances to be able to treat your cat. It is important that you know what type of cover to take out for your pet. Cover for life is the best type of policy on the market as it covers your pet for ongoing conditions for your cat's whole life.