|Baby Newzer & Daddy Binky Jo demonstrate kitten care in the Nursery and offers tips on the transition into their new homes.|
It is important for kittens to have plenty of rest as well as exercise. Because kittens love to play so much, just like with growing children, they can get over-stimulated and not know when to rest. So we have to let them know when their little bodies need to rejuvenate with quiet-time so they can eat, potty, and take a nap.
Well-being "Just one more kiss, then baby needs to rest."
All babies born in our home are socialized from birth with limited daily interaction. I always like to be with the mothers during their births. No matter how many litters they have, my girls always find comfort with me being there with them. Limited handling as well as talking to the new babies everyday is important to bond with them and make sure they are healthy and getting enough to eat.
The Vaccination Record includes all shots that the kitten or adult has received as well as a suggested schedule for the next vaccinations. Kitten inoculations are against Panleukopenia, Rhinotrecheitis, and Calicivirus. I only vaccinate for Rabies when required for airline travel. I do not vaccinate against Feline Leukemia because of the stress of the vaccination on the immune system, inconclusive effectiveness, and lack of exposure to those cats who could have this disease. My breeding cats are tested for Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and Feline AIDS (FIV). If you and your Vet believe other vaccinations are warranted than those recommended--specifically, Panleukopenia, Rhinotrecheitis, and Calicivirus--it is then yours and your Veterinarian's responsibility for the health of your kitten.
It is very important to keep young kittens away from adult cats until they have had all series of their kittenhood vaccinations. Adult cats can carry latent diseases--that means, the carrier will show no signs of the disease but can transfer the active disease to others who are susceptible, like kittens who have not had all of their vaccinations and whose immune systems have not fully developed yet. Exposure to adult carriers can have mild to very serious as well as fatal consequences.
An example of a mild case is a kittenhood condition called *Limping Cali.* Having corresponded with a Canadian Cat-Only Veterinarian several years ago when I first heard of this in some catteries and pet homes, I will relate her views on this condition. It is a strain of the Calicivirus. The most notable symptoms are limping and fever. As far as the way a kitten contracts it, some believe that adult cats who are carriers of this strain of Calicivirus can transmit it to kittens, while others believe that it is a reaction to the actual Calicivirus vaccine itself, usually displaying symptoms about a week after a vaccination. Even though some Veterinarians may prescribe a mild antibiotic like Clavamox (Augmentin) for its treatment, it will clear up on its own within 48 hours without any medication at all. During this time, the caregiver needs to make sure the kitten is eating and staying hydrated with plenty of water. It is also important to keep the kitten as stress-free and quiet as possible. Limping Cali can affect any breed of kitten due to its mode of transmission.
Because of the possible health risks, kittens who are not fully vaccinated against kittenhood diseases should not interact with adult cats in the household. A Health Warranty cannot be granted if a kitten has been exposed to adult cats before receiving all of the necessary kittenhood vaccinations. Only after sixteen (16) weeks of age is it safe for kittens to *meet* their older playmates. Failure to segregate your new kitten(s) from your existing resident cat(s) and kitten(s) will result in the forfeiture of your kitten's Health Warranty.
All kittens and cats are raised on the best foods available. I also provide them with a raw diet--primarily, beef and chicken (both home-raised) as an extra protein source, especially with kittens during their weaning time. Kittens' bones and muscles need plenty of nutrition for proper growth and do a great deal of growing at this time. And if they do not get what they need in their diet, then their bodies will start to feed on their already developing bones and muscles. I only feed professional cat foods and am always looking for the best brands for my cats.
Every kitten and cat going to a new home is accompanied with a Care Kit, which includes a sample of the food that she/he has been eating. These varieties are kitten and cat foods that are easy for the feline digestive tract. These brands are also Veterinarian-recommended and have high protein ratios. Coupons for these brands will be included in the Kit and you will receive future coupons from these cat food companies.
An important note on feline nutrition: Arguably, the best diet is as close as possible to what cats would naturally catch and eat in the wild. For this reason, I advocate raw feeding. There are two different types--one is the Prey Model (whole without supplements) and the other is the Homemade Recipe (ground with supplements). Both have their benefits and concerns, which are addressed on many sites throughout the Internet by Vets, breeders, nutritionists, and pet owners.
Raw feeding has many benefits for your cat. The chewing of meat and bones equals the best dental hygiene because this keeps their teeth clean, which means no dental problems. Also, raw food contains more water, so our cats are well hydrated, which means no kidney problems. Finally, raw food contains no grains, so there are no allergic reactions resulting in anything from bowel problems to potential poisoning to feline diabetes. For convenience, there are many outlets on-line for buying raw food--both Prey Model (if choice meats are not available to you) and Homemade Recipes (pre-made, just thaw and serve; if you cannot make your own).
But if raw feeding is not a consideration. There are other alternatives that will be beneficial for our cats, which are dry and canned. Please avoid any semi-moist foods because they contain more preservatives and bacteria. Select only dry and canned foods that are protein-rich, "grain-free," or at least "low in carbohydrates." Above all, avoid corn in the ingredient list. And most importantly, do not feed an exclusively dry food diet, no matter how high the quality.
Many cats are addicted to dry food, which is equated with fast food for us humans. It is convenient and always available. But cats are opportunistic feeders. Their digestive tracts are set up for this mode of feeding. Therefore, do not leave dry food out all the time. Set enough down for a feeding of no more than an hour. Dry foods are coated with enticing flavors to encourage the cat to eat it, but if it sets too long, bacteria will grow. Also, by selecting only high-protien, grain-less dry foods, this will aid in providing the right nutrients that our cats need in an easy way for us to feed . . . but it does not address issues that canned food does.
Canned or wet food provides chewing, which gives teeth a cleaning that dry food cannot. Also, canned food provides a water content, which gives more hydration to the kidneys. Always select canned foods that are high in protein and grain-free--that is, those that actually look like "real" meat. If possible, it is best to feed an entirely canned food diet over dry.
All kittens are fully litterbox-trained. For the first days in your home, I suggest keeping your new family member in close quarters to the litterpans or place more than one litterpan in your house until their locations are known--that is, if you want your new kitten or cat to have full run of your house right away. I would strongly recommend a room at first though, just until your home becomes familiar to the new member. This is especially important if you have any adult cats in your home.
Also, keep their food, water, and beds away from their litterbox to discourage contamination and confusion, such as using the litterpan as a bed. All of my kittens and cats that go to new homes are very healthy and have excellent potty habits. As for the litter, I use a plain, low-dust litter, which is non-perfumed. I never use clumpable with young kittens because it poses a definite threat to them if they consume it. Kittens use their primal instinct to test new things by biting and chewing. Sometimes kittens do like to chew on litter, especially when they are first learning what it is actually for. Therefore, only my adult cats use the clumpable litter. Kittens use plain clay litter until they are, at least, four (4) months of age.