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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

New Born Kitten Care

Interact with kittens as soon as possible. Studies show that a
litter of kittens born in a location inaccessible to humans will, as
early as two to three weeks, hiss at humans. A litter of kittens from
the same mother, if handled daily, will not react fearfully. Some
research suggests that handling kittens each day during the
first month of their lives may improve their learning ability.

Handling kittens requires general common sense. Just as with human babies,
you should be very careful when holding your little kitten.

You may cause serious harm to your kitten through incorrect handling, so
always pay close attention to how you hold your young cat.

Kittens tend to react more readily to humans when the mother cat is present.

The belief is that she does not send alarming signals to her kittens and her
presence reassures them.

The February 1993 Animal Health Newsletter published by the
Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine reports a study
indicating that handling kittens very early in life accelerates their
development. Siamese kittens handled 20 minutes each day during their
first 30 days of life opened their eyes earlier and emerged from
their nesting box earlier than littermates not handled that way.

However, although you may be tempted to constantly handle your kitten,
do not pick it up too often since this may cause undue stress to both
the mother and kitten. Handling kittens helps in their socialization
to humans, but over handling should be avoided.

Even though a mother cat is able to pick a kitten up by the scruff
of its neck, you should avoid this yourself to keep from harming
the kitten. To safely pick up a kitten place one hand around the
kitten's stomach and the other hand under its hind legs. Support
the kitten's head and neck to prevent injury.

Remember that kittens are not toys and should not be handled roughly.

Though they love to play, kittens have fragile, developing bodies.

Make sure that children in your house know how to correctly hold the
kitten and are supervised in their play with it. Most kittens prefer
not to be carried around the house by their young owners.

Recognize the importance of play as it helps introduce
young kittens to their environment. During this critical play period
when kittens are four to eight weeks of age, socialization to humans
is extremely important. Frequent handling and petting of the young kitten
can make it more responsive to his owner when he becomes an adult cat.

Introducing a young kitten to many people is important in socializing
kittens to humans. This seems to lessen their fear of strangers as
adult cats.

Kittens should also be introduced to children and children should
be shown how to pet them. A kitten not socialized with children may
reject them after it has matured.

Provide a healthy start with regular visits to a veterinarian.
All kittens, even strictly indoor cats, should be vaccinated to protect
them from deadly diseases.

Some viruses travel through the air or may be brought into the house
on people’s clothing or shoes. There is also a risk that an indoor at
may get outside or that a disease-carrying cat may wander into the yard
or even get in the house.

Be aware that a kitten’s rapid growth and high energy
requirements present a special nutritional need. Research show that a
kitten grows from infancy to young adulthood in approximately one year.
During its first 20 weeks a kitten can have a 2,000 percent increase
over its birth weight. At 26 weeks of age, the growth level starts to
level off. However, a kitten continues to develop inside with normal
growth ending at about one year of age.

Establish a grooming routine for you and your kitten.
When a kitten becomes accustomed to grooming, it will be easier to
groom as it matures.

Longhaired cats should be groomed daily. Shorthaired cats should be groomed
at least once or twice a week. Appropriate grooming
equipment for longhairs and shorthairs is available at pet shops.

The grooming routine should include a careful inspection
for external parasites such as fleas or ticks and skin disorders
such as ringworm. Grooming also provides an opportunity to accustom a
kitten to be examined for lumps or skin lesions. If any are observed,
prompt veterinary treatment is recommended.

During the examination check for:

* eyes that are clear and bright. Any discharge from the eyes is usually a sign of illness

* ears that are clean and pink. Redness or sores or an offensive odor may be an indication of ear mites or bacterial infection.

* teeth should be clean and gums free of any soreness.

Set ground rules for your kitten’s behavior and be consistent
in working with your kitten to enforce these rules. Once you have
decided on a name for your kitten, enlist the cooperation of family
members by calling the kitten only by that name.

Some misbehavior results from a kitten’s desire to play. Provide
diversions such as toys made for kittens (look for this information on
the product label), a scratching post, box, a crumpled piece of paper
or a golf ball. Avoid rough play with your kitten which encourages
scratching and/or biting. Pinpricks from tiny teeth and claws can become
bites and scratches as a kitten matures.

Kittens are sensitive to the tone of voice. When you see your kitten
being naughty, a firm “no” usually stops the misdeed. If your kitten
develops a bad habit and you catch your kitten in the act, a squirt
from a toy pistol or spray bottle is usually an effective deterrent.

Begin training your kitten to use a litter box immediately.
A plastic or enamel pan is easy to clean and will not rust.

Keep the pan in a secluded area in your house. Place your kitten in
the litter after meals, after periods of energetic play, long naps,
first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Be consistent in
taking your kitten to the litter pan during this training.

Do not allow your kitten freedom of the house until you
are certain he is using his litter pan regularly. Make certain you
keep the litter pan clean. Many cats will not use soiled litter. A sieve
or scoop designed for cleaning cat litter is available at pet supply
stores and departments. When you change the litter, wash the pan with
soap and warm water. Do not use strong disinfectants not specifically
designed for use around cats. For sanitary purposes, wash your hands
thoroughly after cleaning the litter pan.

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