Kittens For Dummies
Who can resist a kitten — a fuzzy bundle of mad antics and big, winsome eyes? If you’re contemplating getting a kitten, you need to know what traits to look for, what supplies to have on hand, and what to watch out for — both in your home and in your kitten’s behavior — so that your feline friend stays happy and healthy.
How to Detect Kitten Emergencies
You usually don’t have to do much to keep your kitten healthy. But kittens are rambunctious, not to mention curious, and your small feline bundle of fur may encounter something that necessitates a quick trip to the vet. Emergency care is required for everything from eating something she shouldn’t to catching the feline flu. Take your kitten to the vet immediately if you notice
Bleeding you can’t stop
Unconsciousness or lethargy
Staggering or seizures
Bloody pee or poop
Pooping more than twice in an hour or straining in the litter box with no results
Repeated bouts of vomiting in a short time or diarrhea with vomiting
Signs that she’s swallowed something poisonous such as mouth irritation, drooling, vomiting, seizures, or fever
Signs of pain, such as swelling or inability to use her leg
If you suspect that your kitten has swallowed something toxic, call ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 800-342-9293 or 888-426-4435. The call costs $50, but it could save your kitten’s life.
Providing the Basics for Your Kitten
The day your new kitten comes home to stay is bound to be memorable and, hopefully, fun for all involved. To make your pet feel right at home from the start, be sure to have these feline-friendly items on hand:
High quality kitten food
Litter box, unscented cat litter, and scoop
Shallow food bowl and deep water bowl (neither should be made of plastic)
Sturdy scratching post or cardboard scratcher
Safe toys (without sewn-on bells or eyes that can be chewed off)
How to Choose a Kitten for a Pet
When picking out a kitten, you want to find one that’s healthy, happy, and ready to be a positive addition to your family. You want a kitten that demonstrates
Curiosity — this goes without saying, doesn’t it?
Comfort with being picked up
A mouth with healthy, pink gums
Pass on a kitten with the following warning signs, which tell you she’s not healthy or well socialized:
Gooey eyes, running nose, or sneezing
Visible third eyelid (like a film or goo on the inside corner of his eye)
Crusty stuff around butt or runny poop
Skin scabs or missing fur
Black stuff in the ears
Fleas or flea dirt
Thin with potbelly
An incorrigible nipper or hard biter
Frightened or shy
How to Avoid Things That Will Hurt Your Kitten
As much as your kitten has his own personality, he is not a person, and things that you use or eat every day can be very bad news for your kitten should he swallow them. This table lists foods, medicines, and other items to keep out of kitten’s reach.
|Dog food||Tylenol (acetaminophen)||Liquid potpourri|
|Tuna||Advil (ibuprofen)||Pine cleaners|
|Onions||Aspirin||Dog flea products|
|Grapes & raisins||Pepto Bismol||Tobacco|
|Yeast dough||Sunburn relief sprays||Lilies (any species)|
Questions to Ask Your Vet When Your Kitten Is Sick
The veterinarian is your kitten’s friend, although an animal care pro you don’t want to see all the time. If your kitten has to visit the vet for an illness or injury, ask your vet these questions to explore your options and to consider safeguards against future visits:
How much will this cost?
What are my treatment options?
How long before I can expect improvement?
How do I give her the medicine (and what are the doses)?
Are there any side effects I should watch for?
Will she get worse before she gets better?
Besides giving her medication is there anything I can do to make her more comfortable?
What other symptoms might she come down with related to this condition?
Does she need a follow up appointment?
Does she need to be confined or quarantined?
Is she contagious to the other cats, dogs, kids, and so on?
Will this affect her long-term health?
How can I keep this from happening again?