Choosing a kitten
Acquiring a kitten as a pet entails the responsibility of regular feeding and comfortable housing. It is always better to consider having two of them together as they love each other’s company. The interplay of relationships between the two provide endless amusement and entertainment for their pet parents!
Here are a few points to keep in mind before acquiring a new kitten:
Age : Preferably eight weeks as by this time he will be weaned, house trained and will not get too upset by the change.
Mouth and gums : Should be nice pink color and breath should be sweet.
Nose : Should be clean, without any thick discharge. There should be no sneezing. Cats and kittens are prone to catarrh and influenzal colds, which spread very quickly, and may be the forerunner of more serious diseases. Never accept a kitten where any of the feline occupants of the premises appear to have colds as all in the litter are likely to be affected within a few days.
Eyes : Should be bright and shiny without any thick discharge.
Temperament : Try not to choose a kitten who appears nervous, spiteful, unfriendly or hides in a corner.
Hair coat : Should be smooth and shiny. Look for scabs, redness or the presence of parasites.
If choosing a pedigree kitten, a litter in which the kittens are all of similar size, indicates better stock than where the kittens vary in size. Remember that pure-breds are less resistant to diseases.
Gender : The gender of the new kitten is not of great consequence if he/she is to be a family pet. Females tend to be gentler than males but during heat season they will continuously “call” the male. Therefore, unless you intend to breed, you must neuter your female pet kitten. The preferable age for neutering is 5-6 months of age. It is a simple and a safe operation. Male kittens are naturally possessive and territorial and are more prone to wandering off. They also tend to spray/mark their territory with urine which could be quite objectionable if done indoors. So, if one does not want to mate the male kitten later in life, it’s always better to get them castrated.
Deworming and vaccination
Ideally kittens can be dewormed at the age of 4-6 weeks and the deworming can be repeated every month or every 3 months. All kittens should be administered the following vaccines : Anti-rabies, Panleukopenia,Rhinotracheitis, Calici Virus, Feline Leukemia and Feline Infectious Peritonitis.
The schedule for the first dose as well as the booster dose is decided by the vet depending on the type of vaccine available.
Cats need a well-balanced diet to ensure that they stay in peak condition. A balanced diet must contain a full supplement of protein, fat, vitamins and minerals
in the right proportions. As with other animals, cats eat to satisfy their require-ment for energy.
- A diet which contains the right amount of energy for an individual animal must, therefore, provide all the other essential nutrients in the correct amount. In general, cats will adjust their own daily food intake in order to meet their energy requirement and unless they are fed an exceptionally palatable diet, or are particularly inactive, they seldom overeat.
- Although carbohydrate and fat are the most common and useful sources of energy, cats can also obtain energy from the protein in their diet. Their preference for good quality, high protein food is not simply a behavioural fad.
- Animal fats in the diet are essential for cats – not just for the energy they provide, but also because they are a source of vitamin A and the fatty acid, arachidonic acid. They also make the food more palatable to cats.
- It is perfectly acceptable to give your cat a special treat now and again. However, it is unlikely that this alone will suffice to provide a balanced diet for your cat, so do use them in moderation.
- Don’t let your cat become addicted to any one food. Some cats find liver very palatable and may refuse to accept any other food.
- Although your cat should have a meat-based diet, fresh meat alone is not suitable for him. This type of diet can lead to a number of mineral and vitamin imbalances and may cause a serious metabolic bone disorder.
- Wish you all the best in choosing the purrfect kitten.
(Dr. Kamaldeep Chaggar started working with animals at the age of 13 at her father’s clinic. She did her B.V.Sc. & A.H. from P.A.U. Ludhiana. After graduating, she moved to London to further enhance her veterinary skills. For the past 6 years, in partnership with her vet brother Dr. R.S. Chaggar, she has been operating from their three privately owned clinics in South Delhi. Call her at: 9811389089.)