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I just got a cat of my own!

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Can someone please help me with the very basics of cat ownership? I have had cats all my life but now that I am living without my parents I have to take care of a new kitten on my own.

She is about 6-8 weeks old. My boyfriend's mom found the stray litter outside her house this winter.

I am wondering as to what types of shots I should expect when I take her to the vet for the first time and how soon this needs to be taken care of. Also, since I am on a budget, I am curious as to what I can expect to pay for her checkup and vaccinations.

She does not have fleas but she has some small sores behind her ears. There is some pinkish crust on the bottoms of her eyes too.

Sorry if I seem sort of niave. I just want to make sure I do everything right when raising my new baby.
post #2 of 16
Basics. Well, she is too young to have left her mom, but old enough that she will probably do fine. She needs a litter box, most people prefer the non clumping litter for this tiny of a baby. Also, not the perfumed kind, cats really do not like that. You need to confine her to a small room, like the bathroom, until you are sure she will go to the litter box, because at her age she may wait until the last minute and not be able to make it. You need to scoop the solids out of the litter daily at the least, and change the litter at least once a week, scrubbing the box and drying it well. You may need to do this more often but at least daily scooping and weekly washing.
Food--I prefer an premium canned food, but Nutro pouches are good and are available at most pet stores. If you are not going to be home for more than 5-6 hours you should leave some dry kitten food down for her while you are gone, she is too young to go very long without a snack.
She will need shots now and in three weeks and six weeks, so at 6,9, 12 weeks old, usually.
She may have a little upper respiratory infection, they are very common in kittens, the vet will advise you on how to treat it if that is what she has. The sores may be from fleas, even if you don't see them they may be there. The vet will advise you on flea treatments, probably advantage or Frontline, but she is so young I would not make any recommendation without a vet.
There are some very good sites about kitten care, one is at the bottom of this page, kitten rescue. And look for a kitten care book by Amy Shojai, it is very good.
Keep asking questions, that's how you learn.
Oh, I forgot, you need a scratching post of some sort, the cardboard scratchers are good and very cheap. And mayby a couple of toys, one on a pole is good for interactive play. Pingpong balls are good cheap toys. One plus one kitten in the bathtub will have you in stitches.
Becky
post #3 of 16
Oh, yeah, costs. Different everywhere. Here in expensive California you might pay $60 or more for the office visit and maybe $20 for the shot. But I am sure other places are cheaper. You can call around but the cheapest may not be the best. Ask friends and just call and see how they treat you over the phone. She will probably need worm medicine too, but only from the vet, don't buy the over the counter ones, she is too little for that.
Becky
post #4 of 16
You should go ahead NOW and make that appointment with the vet. As soon as possible, really. Tommorrow if you can. 6 to 8 weeks is really young to be away from Momma and so you will want the vet to guide you in how you should care for the baby until she can build up some strength and immunity.

She should be tested for FIV and FeLK, don't bother with the FIP, it won't tell you anything conclusive, and she should receive her first vaccination for Rhinotraceitis, Calici and Panleukopenia. The vet should check her eyes and ears and if needed, prescribe a medication to help you treat any issues there. He should also perform a fecal test to determine which type of worms she may have and to give you a treatment that is appropriate for a kitten her age to rid her of them. If you can obtain a stool sample on the day of your appointment, take that in with you. It will be of assistance.

Your vet will also tell you about nutrition and may have some suggestions as to what and how often to feed her. I would suggest a good, high quality (as best as you can afford) kitten canned food and clean, fresh water available at all times. Don't give her milk, most cats don't tolerate it well.

Provide Baby with a litter box and clean, fresh litter - I don't recommend clumping litter for kittens, they tend to eat it and it causes all kinds of problems if they do. Use an inexpensive clay litter and scoop out the solids at least once per day, more often if necessary. Since Baby may not be familiar with litter, you might have to enclose her in a smaller room for a day or so until she gets the hang of it.

As she becomes more familiar with her new surroundings, she will want a scratching post or similar arrangement to stretch and shed any dead claw sheathes. Sometimes you have to guide them to use a post and sometimes a cat will prefer to stretch long-wise instead of upwards - so you might have to wait and see which she like best to determine what kind of arrangement you will need for her.

It isn't at all uncommon for babies to come down with a little stress-induced snotty nose for a few days upon entering a new home or environment. While there are others who who may disagree with me *smile*, unless the snot is green, you shouldn't give her antibiotics. They won't be effective and you are only weakening her developing immune system by giving them. The vet may go ahead and prescribe them, but in most cases, unless the snot is green (indicating a bacterial infection), you aren't going to achieve a prophylactic effect by giving them.

Hope this is helpful - and please don't forget to update us on her progress!

~gf~
post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by thaobecca
Can someone please help me with the very basics of cat ownership? I have had cats all my life but now that I am living without my parents I have to take care of a new kitten on my own.

She is about 6-8 weeks old. My boyfriend's mom found the stray litter outside her house this winter.

I am wondering as to what types of shots I should expect when I take her to the vet for the first time and how soon this needs to be taken care of. Also, since I am on a budget, I am curious as to what I can expect to pay for her checkup and vaccinations.

She does not have fleas but she has some small sores behind her ears. There is some pinkish crust on the bottoms of her eyes too.

Sorry if I seem sort of niave. I just want to make sure I do everything right when raising my new baby.
The sooner she goes to the vet, the better. Since this will be her first time, I would recommend getting her vaccinated for FVRCP-C and rabies (if required by law in your state). If your kitten will be indoors & outdoors, I would also recommend the FeLV vaccine. I believe the FVRCP-C and FeLV can be given every other year. All of my boys (except Kionu) get the FVRCP-C vaccine every other year and the FeLV vaccine every 3 years. They are indoor cats so they don't need all the other vaccines. It would do them more harm than good. Also, for her first visit, she should have a physical examination and fecal test.

As far as vet costs, it really depends on your location and your veternarian. The cost of living in Hawaii is insanely expensive, even for our pets. Kionu's first visit cost about $95.00. This included an examination, FeLV/FIV test, FVCRP-C Vaccination (1st series) and FeLV Vaccination (1st Series). His second visit cost $80, which included a recheck examination, FeLV vaccination (2nd series), FVCRP-C vaccination (2nd series), fecal test and his de-worming medication.

The sores behind her ears could be ear mites. Savanah had them when my mom got her from the Humane Society. Your vet would most likely give her a dose of Revolution and clean her ear with solution. Hopefully your vet is kind enough to give you a free samples!

Kionu had crusty eyes when we first got him. It was the result of fleas and poor care on part of his previous owner. Then again, her eye crusties could just be from the enviroment she was found in, or she could have an upper respiratory infection. Even though you don't see fleas, she could still have them. They are sneaky little buggers. You should ask your vet about a certain pill (I can't remember the name) that kills the fleas within 24 hours. We gave that to Kionu the day after we got him.

Have you thought about getting her microchipped?

P.S. Congratulations on owning your first kitty! It will be an awesome experience...
post #6 of 16
Forgot to add a few things...

If you can afford it, I would recommend a high quality dry/canned food like Innova or Felidae. Their formulas are for "All Stages" so your kitten will be able to eat it (we feed it to Kionu and he's doing fine). I would also get an automatic water fountain. This would keep her water fresh throughout the day.

If you are concerned about her eating the litter, I would use World's Best Litter (if your budget permits it). It's made out of corn so it's safe enough for her to eat.

Definitely get her a few toys to keep her active and a scratching post. The sooner she learns to use a scratching post, the better off your furniture will be.
post #7 of 16
In Hawaii you don't do rabies, right? You probably don't need to know, no rabies shots until at least four months, some wait until six, definately not for the tiny ones. Some people, including me, don't get them at all for indoor kitties. But this is a low rabies incidence area. If there were bats around I would probably do even indoor kitties. Becky
post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by zanniesmom
In Hawaii you don't do rabies, right? You probably don't need to know, no rabies shots until at least four months, some wait until six, definately not for the tiny ones. Some people, including me, don't get them at all for indoor kitties. But this is a low rabies incidence area. If there were bats around I would probably do even indoor kitties. Becky
No, we don't do the rabies shot (unless the pet is going out of state). Hawaii is a Rabies-Free state. We have incredibly strict quarantine laws to prevent rabies from entering our state. Any pet coming in to Hawaii is subject to a minimum stay of 120 days or 5-30 days (you have to meet certain qualifications for the short stay) in quarantine. The only countries exempt from this law is Australia, New Zealand, British Isles and Guam as they have the same Rabies Law as we do.
post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikonu
Definitely get her a few toys to keep her active and a scratching post. The sooner she learns to use a scratching post, the better off your furniture will be.
This part is especially important. I was considering declawing Dakota when I first got her because I had brand new furniture, a brand new big screen TV (those speaker screens are tempting). However, I was going to go through the alternatives first before considering declawing. I got Dakota a scratching post, we played around it at first using a laser pointer so she would put her claws on it, then I got down on my hands and knees and simulated scratching the post. Dakota caught on instantly and has been using it ever since. My furniture is intact, my speaker screen is intact. I accomplished this in 1 night. I can't guarantee this will happen for you, maybe I'm lucky, but it's definitely worth a shot.

I get to repeat this whole process this weekend, when kitten #2 comes home.
post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikonu
... Since this will be her first time, I would recommend getting her vaccinated for FVRCP-C and rabies (if required by law in your state) ...
Ummmm, at only 6 to 8 weeks of age, this kitten is FAR too young to have a rabies vaccine. Rabies should be given at around 16 weeks of age. I agree that FRCVP (Feline Rhinotraceitis, Calici and Panleukopenia) should be given now, but I don't like the Chlamydia vaccine. I've seen it actually bring on a bout in an immune-suppressed kitten like this one. I don't recommend it here but of course, this person't vet is her best guide.
post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by gayef
Ummmm, at only 6 to 8 weeks of age, this kitten is FAR too young to have a rabies vaccine. Rabies should be given at around 16 weeks of age. I agree that FRCVP (Feline Rhinotraceitis, Calici and Panleukopenia) should be given now, but I don't like the Chlamydia vaccine. I've seen it actually bring on a bout in an immune-suppressed kitten like this one. I don't recommend it here but of course, this person't vet is her best guide.
Sorry, I didn't know what the age requirement was for the rabies shot. In any event, it should be at the top of her list.
post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikonu
Sorry, I didn't know what the age requirement was for the rabies shot. In any event, it should be at the top of her list.
Yes, absolutely it should be at the top, along with getting the baby spayed when the time comes for each.
post #13 of 16
for her to checkout if your kitten has worms, fleas, for the basic shots, ect... You will need a good cat food for kittens(premium cat food is for both kitten and cats), and I suggest giving wet and dry. Also your kitten will need water available at all times, some toys and a bed to sleep on. I advocate cats being inside cats because of all the danger to them outside, so please keep the kitten inside if possible. And of course for now a small box for a litter box, but it wil get bigger as the cat gets bigger. Good luck !
post #14 of 16
Wish I'd had you guys around when I got MY first kitten (many years ago...)!!! What great advice!

I definitely agree that you should keep the kitten indoors, get her to the vet ASAP (and eventually spayed when she's totally healthy), and feed her the highest quality food you can afford.

Make sure to kitten-proof your house - you will be amazed (and at times horrified) at what kittens think is fun to play with. Electrical cords, rubber bands, all kinds of pins and needles, nails, string, thread, styrofoam packing chips, you get the idea. All of these things are life-threatening if chewed and/or swallowed. You'll always have to be two steps ahead of her! Unfortunately, even some cat toys fall into this category.
Don't give her anything that has bells or mylar strips or strings that can be chewed or torn off the toy and swallowed. The wand toys are fun for a kitten (and you!) to play with, but even those should be picked up when playtime is over and put away, just to be on the safe side.

A scratching post is not a luxury item - it's a necessity. Be sure to get one that does NOT have the part meant for scratching made from carpet! Using a post made of carpet only teaches a kitten that carpet, including the expensive stuff on your floor, is for scratching. You want a post wrapped in sisal rope, and you want a good sturdy one that won't tip over when your kitten leans against it to scratch. The cardboard scratch boxes are also good -some can be hung on a doorknob or wall if the kitten prefers to scratch in that position, or simply put on the floor. They're inexpensive and can easily be replaced when they get too worn. There is absolutely no need to even think about declawing your kitten if you teach her where it's acceptable to scratch. Provide several posts and scratch pads around the house and put one near where she sleeps since many cats like to scratch when they first wake up. Get her used now to having her nails clipped and do it on a regular basis. If you're not sure how to safely clip them, have the vet show you.

Go to the bookstore and invest in a couple of good cat care books. Look for books recently published or updated which contains basics about cat care and health.
One that's been out for awhile and has a new edition is "The New Natural Cat" by Anitra Frazier. I've used that book so often it's falling apart!

One more suggestion - in about a month, after you've had the kitten to the vet and she's in good health, and you're feeling more confident about caring for her, think about adopting a friend for her. I know, you're probably a little overwhelmed right now just taking care of this one, but trust me, two are no big deal once you've got the basics down! Here's why you should get another one : 1) your kitten will be thrilled to have a friend who she can play with, exercise with, and who can keep her company and prevent loneliness; 2) you will have non-stop entertainment- double the fun and the love, 3) you will not feel guilty about leaving your kitten alone while you're at work or school (see #1), and 4) adopting a kitten from a shelter saves 2 lives -the kitten you've adopted, and the kitten or cat who can now get into the shelter because a space is available.

Best of luck to you and your new baby!
post #15 of 16
Welcome to the world of new kittenhood:-)

Yes, she is too young for rabies - that will be included in the last set of booster shots she gets so don't worry about it for a while. The important shots right now are for panleukopenia (feline distemper), rhinotracheitis and calicivirus - these are the diseases that are highly contagious and often fatal for young kittens. She should also be wormed since almost definitely she will have roundworms.

In addition to the other points already mentioned, I will add a few:

1) make sure that the litter box isn't too tall for her to get into - use a shallow pan type for now and you can get a covered one with higher sides later on if you wish.

2) You can use one of the more expensive natural litters such as s'wheat if you want to use a clumping litter, but don't use a clay clumping litter as little kittens will sometimes deliberately or inadvertently eat their litter.

3) If you can possibly afford it, consider adopting one of her siblings as well. Two kittens will grow up together and keep each other company. As well, they will cuddle and play together and help each other with their socialization and 'cat' skills. If not, then do try to get her cuddly types of little toys right now that she can wrestle with and snuggle up against as she sleeps

4) put her food into shallow dishes -saucers are great. I use thrift store and garage store china saucers bought for 5 cents each (20 for a dollar!) and dont' be surprised if you find her asleep sometime with her head resting on her food dish (VBG)

5) kitten proof your home. That means getting down to kitten level and finding any small spaces that could be dangerous, or dangling cords that are looped at the end, or exposed wires that could entice her to chew. As she starts to teeth she will put things into her mouth and you want to make sure they are safe. Be sure to pick up anything small enough to choke her or that is long and thin like thread, wool or string - they can cause really bad problems in her digestive tract.

6) Give her some type of cuddly cat bed or box, either using one of the commercial padded types from the pet store, making one yourself, or using soft fleecy type of fabric. She may like one that has a top on it or higher sides, or even a cardboard box. It can be her 'safety' place where she can go and feel protected. I used a piece of rabbit fur in mine for my orphan kittens, and the female still sleeps with a piece of it now (and carries it around in her mouth from place to place:-) ). Make sure she can get nice and warm in there - she is still little and would normally be sharing the body heat of her mother and siblings - and put it in a quiet place where it won't get knocked or disturbed but the kitten is still likely to go. Mine was under the coffee table for the longest time.

7) if you need to go out for any length of time, leave soft music or a talk radio show on in the background. Avoid rock or rap or anything like that though as the rhythms are not soothing for little kittens and could be stressful.

8) When she does something you don't want her to do, resist the urge to punish her but rather 'redirect' her energies and attentions elsewhere. Cats don't respond well to punishment and don't always make the connection between their behaviour and your response so you need to find ways to offer positive re-inforcement. Examples are if she starts scratching, pick her up and help her use her scratching post instead. If she starts trying to wrestle with your hand while playing, put a stuffed small toy there as well and slowly withdraw your hand while she transfers her attentions to the toy; if she uses a place other than the litter box, pick her up and put her in the litter box, scratching at the litter yourself to get her used to the idea, praising her and telling her what a good girl she is at the time. Don't draw attention to where she went instead but IGNORE it until you get her out of the way then thoroughly clean it up with an enzyme cleaner later to remove all traces of its odor.

9) get a flea comb. It has small fine closely set together teeth, and start using it a little each day, kind of like petting her with it. Allow her to determine how much of it she wants - don't force it. Start on her back and behind her head and work yourway around to her head. You will be able to get any fleas if they are there (drown them in a cup of soapy water), but you will also be teaching her to enjoy being groomed. It also helps in the bonding process since mama cat would be still grooming her and you are now momma cat. Eventually all you will have to do is show her the comb and she will come running, purring, to be combed.

10. Get a cat carrier - make sure it will be big enough for her as an adult - and put it out, opened, with bedding inside so she gets used to it early. It will make visits to the vet or anywhere else less traumatic if she is used to being in the carrier. Don't 'crate' her in it like a dog, though. Cats don't need to be confined in the same way. Just leave it out with the door open for her to come and go as she pleases.

One additional word - the first year of her life will be the most expensive one for her regular veterinary needs. She needs all of her shots and she will need spayng. If it is a financial challenge, discuss a payment schedule with your vet. Most of them are willing to work out some type of arrangement such as a weekly, biweekly or monthly amount on a pre-arranged schedule especially when they get to know you better and recognize you are a responsible pet owner.

Good luck with your new little kitten.

Kathryn
post #16 of 16
Kathryn reminded me of something it is good to do. In addition to getting her used to grooming, get her used to you messing with her feet. Extend her claws and feel her feet. You will need to trim her claws and if you get her used to her feet being touched it is much easier. All of mine let me trim their claws weekly. I got a little cat claw scissors to use but some people use nail clippers. Becky
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