Kitten Basics

Kitten Basics

Young kittens should be handled regularly, at least a couple of times a day.  In fact, kittens that are handled each day from birth onward are generally faster to develop, more able to handle stress, and perhaps more social than those that have not been handled regularly.  Therefore obtaining kittens that have been reared in a home environment with regular handling would be very beneficial.  Socialization is the most important in the first 12 weeks of life.  You should make every attempt to introduce your kitten to a wide variety of people, environments, other pets and as many new stimuli as possible.  You can help your kitten have a positive response to each of these new meetings by giving your kitten its favorite treat or toy.

Handling Toys

By playing with your kitten it can live a happier healthier life.  Cats like toys that squeak, chirp, jitter, swing, or vibrate.  This reminds them of moving meals, enticing them to interact.  Cats also like toys that have a wand or stick with a toy dangling from the end.  Do not let your cat play with string, ribbon, thread, twistie ties, and/or hair ties.  By playing with your kitten it can live a happier healthier life.

Body Handling

Engage in frequent handling exercises simply to provide regular and positive physical contact from family members.

  • Touch/rub feet
  • Touch muzzle/teeth
  • Put hands in mouth
  • Rub ears
  • Lift up on tail
  • Rub all over the body
  • Lift/carry around

These simple handling methods will acclimate your kitten to regular hands-on exercises, and make your kitten less stressed with strangers and/or veterinary visits.

Dental Care

Dental care is best to start while young. This way kittens grow accustomed to having their teeth brushed and their mouths handled. Proper dental care can prevent long term problems and dental cleanings in the future.

Use a toothbrush and toothpaste designed specifically for cats.  Brushing every day is best, but several times a week is great too!

Teething PhaseEruption

Temporary teeth1 month

Permanent teeth4 months

Permanent K9 teeth5-6 months

After brushing, be sure to praise and reward your pet with a fun game the two of you play.   Your kitten will soon realize that after its teeth are brushed, something fun and enjoyable will happen, and will soon enjoy getting its teeth brushed.

 

Bathing & Cleaning

Cats will groom themselves regularly. However, you should help care for its coat.  This should be started at a young age, so your kitten can become accustomed, and make it much easier for you and your kitten.  There are times that you may need to bathe your cat.  Use caution in doing this because most cats dislike being bathed, and may require an extra hand.  If you do need to bathe your kitten follow these guidelines.

  • Use lukewarm water
  • Use a mild/gentle shampoo for pets (aloe/oatmeal, etc.)
  • Rinse from tail to head to minimize shaking
  • Dry in a warm area
  • Dry off face, around eyes, and dry out ears (use ear cleaner with a drying agent)

Human shampoos can irritate the skin, and bathing your kitten too much can cause dryness and flakiness. This also is a great time to check for fleas, ticks, and possible skin problems.

Face Cleaning

Kittens’ faces get dirty, too. Clean daily or weekly (depending on breed) and while cleaning, take a look in/at the ears, eyes and teeth.  By doing this you can help prevent medical issues and catch medical issues before they become severe.

Nail Trims

Nail trims are important, and if not trimmed, nails can become painful for your kitten. Handling your kitten’s feet can make nail trims far less traumatic and stressful.

ID For Your Kitten

 

  • Tags/Collar

 

Display your cat’s name and your telephone number. It is important to keep the collar on at all times.

 

  • Microchips

 

Microchips are a permanent form of ID that goes underneath your pet’s skin. This chip contains an alphanumeric code that can be read by animal shelters and veterinary offices.

Socialization

Socialization is a key point in how your kitten will grow into a well-mannered adult.  The first 4-12 weeks seem to be the most important time when the kitten starts to learn sounds, smells, sights, and even begins to make relationships with living beings in its environment.  By proper socialization, you will reduce the possibility of fearful responses, timidness, aggression, and irreversible fears. Here are some tips:

  • Early handling
  • Introduce kitten to as many new people and situations as possible
  • Take to veterinary office multiple times, even if not getting anything done, just to visit and let the kitten become comfortable within the environment

One of the healthiest things you can do for your kitten is give him lots of love and attention.     Cats are fairly independent, and can do well on their own, but they are quite social.  Their sensitive period of socialization is 3-7 weeks of age.  At this time it is most crucial to have your kitten around all sorts of people, sounds, and different environments.  Continue to socialize and spend time with your little companion.  Play, talk, pet, and love your kitten. You will both be happier and healthier.