Kitten Care: The Easy Way

With preparation and information, bringing up baby is a breeze.

By Brenda McClelland, DVM | Posted: Tue Mar 1 00:00:00 PST 2005

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In addition to veterinary care, regularly check your kitten's ears for mites and its coat for fleas and flea dirt. And, because your kitten's output is a good indicator of its health, keep an eye out for anything strange, such as worms or parasites in the stool. If you notice any of these creepy crawlies, promptly schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

Take advantage of these visits to ask your veterinarian about kitten behavior, household dangers to avoid and how to trim your kitten's nails.

Grooming
Most kittens require little more grooming than combing for coat maintenance and nail trims. If a bath is needed, use a shampoo designed for kittens and thoroughly dry your pet afterward. Longhaired cats often require more grooming than shorthaired ones. Two things to watch for are mats in the coat and fecal material trapped in the fur.

"Many of my clients who own longhaired cats often have to bring their cat to our office to have the hair around their cat's rear end shaved," Plotnick says. If you choose to use a professional groomer, make sure he or she regularly works with cats.

Stop That!
Teaching your cat the house rules takes time and patience. Karen Overall, VMD, Ph.D., a certified animal behaviorist at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia, advises against physically disciplining your cat because this can actually create behavior problems. "If a kitten bites, tell it 'no.' Otherwise, freeze and don't interact," Overall says. "If it pursues you, walk away. Then when  you return, redirect its behavior to a toy."

Never use your hands as a toy. This encourages your cat to attack your hand.

Prevent problems before they start. Provide your kitten with at least one easily accessible litterbox per floor in your home. There should also be one more box than the number of cats in the house. For example, if you have two cats, provide three litterboxes. Clean the boxes daily. Easy access to clean litterboxes deters cats from inappropriate urination. Cats also prefer litterboxes in secluded, low-traffic areas.

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