Your New Kitten

Congratulations on bringing your new kitten into your life!  If cared for properly, you can expect to experience the joy and companionship of your feline friend for many years to come.

Before you bring your new kitten home, you must make sure that your home is prepared for it's special needs.  Your new kitten will look to you to ensure it's health and safety by providing a proper diet and environment.

Your kitten will require a diet specially formulated for it's growing needs.  There are many brands available, from premium to generic quality with price ranges to match.  You need to choose the best quality kitten food that your budget can afford to supply your new kitten's nutritional needs.  Whichever brand you choose, we recommend the major portion of the diet to consist of dry kibble, with perhaps the occasional dollop of canned food.  Treats should be limited as they tend to be high in calories, but can be used as a training aid.  Avoid table food, especially seasoned or "junk" food as it simply does not provide the proper nutrients your kitten requires.  A tidbit of chicken or fish should be reserved for extra special occasions.  Your kitten should have access to fresh water at all times.  Contrary to popular myth, your kitten should not be given cow's milk as most of our feline friends cannot digest it properly.

Your new kitten will require a litterpan for it's elimination needs, most instinctively knowing how to use it.  Each new cat or kitten in your home will require a litterpan of it's own, located away from noise, activity and other litterpans.  We recommend that there be one extra litterpan than cats in the household.  Each cat or kitten may have a preference for a specific type or brand of litter.  They like to have their litterpan fresh and cleaned regularly, sometimes as often as several times a day.  Some may or may not like their litterpan covered or they may require a larger litterpan if they have poorer aim.  The litterpan should be low enough so your new kitten can easily get in and out of it.  Recognizing and understanding your kitten's special litterpan requirements will help prevent potential elimination problems in the future as well as allowing you to recognize when there is an actual medical condition that needs veterinary attention.

Kittens are full of mischief so you will need to make sure that it's environment is a safe one.  Remove or limit unsupervised access to potential hazards, such as toxic plants, pools, special furniture or decorations (Christmas trees are a favorite playground), or even other pets that may not appreciate the playfulness of a kitten.  Do provide safe toys and play areas and include several scratching areas of varying materials to ensure your kitten uses it's claws and teeth on things other than your hands, legs or favorite chair.  Having places of varying heights for your kitten to go will not only allow your kitten to utilize it's climbing and jumping abilities, but also provide a safe haven to hide if it feels the need.

Kitten Vaccination Schedule

Just like with humans, your new kitten needs to be vaccinated against multiple diseases that could potentially infect him or her.  Kittens will obtain maternal antibodies against these diseases if the mother has been vaccinated and the kittens drink the colostrum (first milk) after they are born.  These maternal antibodies will protect the kitten until they disappear and the kitten's own immune system takes over.  Since there is some slight variation as to exactly when this happens, as with humans, your kitten will require booster vaccinations spaced at appropriate intervals to ensure complete protection.  We recommend the following vaccination schedule for all kittens:

6 weeks or older - Test for Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus Vaccinate for feline leukemia only if test results are negative.  Continue with other vaccines minus the feline leukemia if test results are positive.

6 - 8 weeks of age - FVRCP & FeLV (feline viral rhinotracheitis, calici, panleukopenia, feline leukemia)

9 - 13 weeks of age - FVRCP & FeLV (feline viral rhinotracheitis, calici, panleukopenia, feline leukemia)

14 - 16 weeks of age - FVRCP, FeLV & Rabies (feline viral rhinotracheitis, calici, panleukopenia, feline leukemia, rabies)

We do not recommend vaccinating kittens younger than 6 weeks of age unless it is known that they did not obtain any maternal antibodies.  Their immune system is not able to produce it's own antibodies to fight disease at that time and the challenge to the immune system caused by vaccination would use up those maternal antibodies, leaving the kitten without any protection.

Kitten vaccinations MUST be administered no less than 2 weeks and no more than 4 weeks apart.  Too close together and the immune system can not "keep up" and provide protection.  Too far apart and the immune system has "forgotten" the prior vaccination and must start "from scratch".

The rabies vaccine does not require a booster to be effective due to the age administered (if given younger than 14 weeks, it must be boostered) in addition to the vaccine being a "killed" vaccine versus a "modified live" vaccine.

Florida state law requires all kittens sold within the state to be at least 8 weeks of age, to be vaccinated by a licensed veterinarian, and to have current Health Certificate issued by the veterinarian.  Additional requirements on the Health Certificate include being tested for Feline Leukemia, being free of intestinal parasite on a fecal examination, have a general dewormer administered and any other notes found by the veterinarian concerning health issues, such as retained testicles, cleft palate, over or under bite, etc.  Health Certificates are only valid for 30 days.

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