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Kitten Basics 102

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Dear Fortitude Valley vet, how do I take care of a kitten?

Continuing from where we left off yesterday, let us look at what are the essential items we should have for a kitten.

What basic stuff should I get for my cat, Fortitude Valley Vet?

  • Litter box - There are many different styles ranging from a simple rectangular open tray to more advanced models (self-cleaning / hooded / odour-removing). A decision here really depends on your budget. It is important to choose an area away from your cat's food and water and preferably somewhere quiet so that your cat can have some privacy. You don't eat and drink where you do your private business, so why should your cat? Most cats will instinctively use a litter box but you may find that it is helpful to encourage him/her to use it after a meal. Try scratching around in the litter box to entice your kitten to use it. In recent years, litter box has designed to look like beautiful furniture that you don't have to hide in the garage or toilet. Our luxury pet lifestyle store has a variety of beautiful and functional litter box that will not look out of place in your architecturally designed home.
  • Litter - There are many kitty litter types in the market. I prefer the ones made out of recycled paper simply because I want to be environmentally friendly and there is a particular brand that gives a small proportion of the profits to RSPCA. Some experts claim that this type of kitty litter is also beneficial to cats that suffer from asthma as it produces very little dust. There are fussy cats that prefer one type of kitty litter to the other and sometimes even the box itself. Try changing the type of litter if you find inappropriate urination around the house. It also helps to clean out the litter frequently. I clean my cat's litter everyday.
  • Diet - It is important that kittens eat a good quality food product designed for kittens and that it be of a premium quality. I tend to stay away from brands at the lower end of the cost spectrum as they usually use inferior ingredients which miss out on giving your kitten the best possible start in life. As a guide,  kittens should be fed 2-3 times a day till they are almost fully grown. Try not to give them wet food too often as this can increase the risk of getting dental diseases from a lack of chewing. I will be quite careful to feeding raw diet to cats. Research has shown multiple times that cats on raw diet carry more bacteria than cats eating commercially prepared food. Consider this strongly if you are pregnant, or have very young children or immuno-compromised adults.
  • Bowls - Change your kitten's water bowl regularly. I like bowls made out of ceramic that is heavy enough not to tilt over when your kitten gets over-zealous during feeding time. I am in the midst of persuading my talented ceramic artist neighbour/close friend to make two special bowls for my dogs and cat.
  • Collar - It is a good idea to get your kittens used to a collar immediately. Remember to put a small identity tag just in case he/she decides to take a stroll out your front / back door. And don't forget to make sure the collar has your contact details.
  • Toys - Too many to describe but you get the idea. I like to start a kitten off with smaller toys that are light and colourful. For the busy professionals, consider a "smart" toy that entertains your cat throughout the day.
  • Bedding - Your cat will find a place on its own to curl up and sleep, but a cosy bed somewhere warm and quiet will encourage a regular and safe spot (i.e. you won't find your cat sleeping atop the fridge / stove top). It is very likely your pet cat will also sleep on your bed, the sofa and many weird areas. My cat loves the toilet floor. 
  • Training aids - Many of my cat lover friends recommend getting a water gun/spray as a training aid to deter kittens/cats from scratching your furniture or being where they shouldn't be. Please use a really light spray and not a super soaker. No, nerf guns are not appropriate.
  • Scratching post - Cats enjoy a good scratch. These posts range from basic simple ones to fancy multiple poles with holes in them for your cats to snuggle in. Also try getting catnip to entice them to scratch on these posts and not your expensive leather lounge set.
  • Cat carrier - For the yearly trips to your vet for a general check up.
  • Cat health insurance - You certainly don't need trips to the specialist or emergency centers that cost you $5,000. I've learnt from a very early experience with my dogs how costly such a trip can be. Save yourself the worry and invest in a health insurance package.
Stay tune for tomorrow's blog on more Kitten Basics.

If you have further questions on kitten care, please visit us at Fortitude Valley Vet, Emporium, Brisbane. (07) 3216 0045.