Choosing your kitten
There are over 40 different cat breeds in the world. Each breed is not only different in looks, but also in temperament and personality. It is important, when choosing a new kitten, to take into consideration characteristics such as temperament, activity level and needs. Long-haired cats are very attractive, but need special care for their fur, and need to be brushed daily. Male cats are territorial, and delimit their space through urine marks. Females are normally gentler than males, but enter heat, characterizes by loud meowing, similar to a child crying. It is important to remember that a cat generate variable expenses, such as feeding and vet visits. Another important factor to be remembered is that your new companion will be with you for 12 to 15 years on average, maybe reaching over 18 years old. Taking these factors into consideration, when you volunteer to have a cat, focus on the physical and behavioral characteristics, that, together, lead you to the most adequate cat for you.
Preparing the environment
The environment needs to be prepared for the arrival of the new “family member”. For this, your kitten will need:
- Transportation box.
- A safe, warm and calm place to sleep.
- A bed or box with a pillow.
- A food plate and a water bowl.
- A scratcher and toys to exercise.
- A collar with an elastic safety buckle to avoid strangulation, and with identification tag.
- Litter box, litter and scoop to pick up feces, away from the food plate and water bowl.
It is important to remember to visit the vet for a physical evaluation and adjusting of a vaccination and vermifuging program before introducing the kitten to his new home.
If there are already any cats in the house, they will not like the presence of new cats, because they are animals that delimit their territories. Because of that, we recommend not leaving the new cat in direct contact with the others, keeping him inside the transportation box or cage so that they each grow used to their smells and establish a hierarchy among them. After the hierarchy is established, they will live together normally.
For the good adaptation of your kitten, it is necessary to establish a routine about feeding and resting times.
The newly-arrived kitten needs plenty of rest. Avoid waking him up too frequently and picking him up constantly.
Do not leave the kitten in noisy places with many people, and do not allow small children to play with the kitten too much or treat him as a toy.
Since kittens are curious and do not recognize the dangers around them very well, it is important to keep him from electrical wires, poisonous plants and cleaning supplies.
When to vaccinate?
The kitten should receive 3 doses of V5 (feline quintuple) at 60, 90 and 120 days old, and a shot of anti-rabbis at 3 months old.
The adult animal should receive annual boosts of the following vaccines: V5 (quintuple) and anti-rabbis, which protect your pet against the most common infectious diseases. Such as:
- Rhynotracheitis: Its symptoms are sneezing, appetite loss, nasal and/or ocular running, fever, leading to pneumonia. Symptoms may last up to 3 weeks with weight loss until the animal’s death. It is a respiratory disease highly contagious among cats.
- Panleukopenia: Its main symptoms are fever, vomits, appetite loss and bloody diarrhea. It is a viral disease highly contagious and fatal, especially in kittens. The virus is passed in stool, and it may contaminate the environment.
- Calicivirus: Affects cats’ respiratory system. Its main symptoms are less appetite , fever and nose running, with possible ulcers on the tongue in the most serious cases.
- Chlamydiosis: It is a zoonosis, which means the disease can affect humans. It is a serious and highly contagious respiratory infection. It affects eyes and nostrils, causing conjunctivitis and rhynitis. There is watery and purulent ocular running, with symptoms that may last for about 30 days. Infected cats may experience relapses after an apparent recovery, and may manifest signs of the disease whenever they have a resistance drop. The vaccine reduces the disease’s gravity and incidence, but does not offer good protection.
- Leukemia: The feline leukemia virus causes tumors and blood diseases in infected animals. The period between virus infection and the appearance of clinical signs may last several years. Cats are infected through contact with virus-bearing animals, which do not necessarily manifest the disease.
- Rabbis: It is a zoonosis, fatal to humans and animals. The main transmissors are cats, dogs, bloodsucking bats and some wild animals. The means of transmission is contaminated saliva.
When should I vermifuge my kitten?
Kittens should be vermifuged at 3 weeks old, with a second dose after 15 days. With adult cats, vermifuging should be done at least twice a year. During consultations, ask about vermifuging, because the vet will indicate the best way to do it and the best product.
How often should I take my pet to the vet?
We recommend you schedule visits to the vet every 6 months. Pay attention to the following signs and symptoms:
- Appetite loss or lack of appetite, excessive thirst.
- Too much or too little urine production.
- Sudden weight gain or loss.
- Apathy, prostration.
- Fur alterations, shine loss, hair loss.
- Persistent diarrhea or bloody feces.
- Frequent vomiting.
- Ocular or nasal running.
- Postural alterations, walking in circles, involuntary muscle movements (tics), excessive saliva.
In case you notice any of these symptoms, look for a vet.
Can I medicate my cat myself?
Never give your cat any medication without first seeing a veterinarian, for he is the only professional capable of indicating precisely the best medication. Some medication for humans may cause your pet serious problems, and even death.
- Feline lower urinary tract disease: It is a group of diseases that affects the lower part of cats’ urinary system (bladder and urethra).
The symptoms are the presence of blood in urine, difficulty urinating, more frequent urinating and, sometimes, impossibility of urinating, which may lead to the cat’s death. Other symptoms ate loss of appetite, depression and vomiting.
The most frequent cause of cystitis in cats is the struvite calculus. The risk of formation of these very common calculi in adult cats can be diminished with the use of urine-acidifying food. The most predisposed cats to this problem are normally males, about 5 years old, neutered, sedentary and obese. Animals subjected to stress also show greater predisposition.
- Feline AIDS or F.I.V.: It is caused by a virus, and causes an immunodeficiency syndrome very much like the one found in humans. This virus is not transmissible to man. Cats are infected when they are bitten by a virus-carrying animal. The incubation is long, but your vet may identify F.I.V.-positive cats. There are no vaccines or available treatments.
- Peritonitis or F.I.P.: It is a viral disease that affects mainly cats in catteries or grouped together in great numbers. So, it is hard to establish diagnosis in the eraly stages of the disease. There is still no treatment, only good practices in catteries may diminish contamination among cats. Symptoms may vary, but chronic fever is the most frequent sign of F.I.P.
Diseases transmissible to man
- Toxoplasmosis: This small parasite brings few consequences to cats’ health. Most infected cats do not show symptoms. As preventive measures for the cat, do not feed the cat raw meat, entrails or bones, and do not allow him to roam through garbage. Pregnant women should avoid contact with soil, cat feces and raw meat. Since the cat buries his feces and keeps his fur always clean, it is improbable to transmit toxoplasmosis through touching or handling (taking care of) your pet cat.
- CSD or cat scratch: Bacterial infection that propagates slowly, causing skin injuries after a few weeks of growth of regional lymph nodes (ganglions) . Most cases heal by themselves.
- Ringworm: Infection caused by microscopic fungi. In men, they cause a circular lesion on the skin with reddish edges.
- Rabbis: Rabbis: It is a zoonosis, fatal to humans and animals. The main transmissors are cats, dogs, bloodsucking bats and some wild animals. The means of transmission is contaminated saliva. Vaccination is the best prevention method, and it is mandatory by law.
Understanding cats’ behavior and learning to deal with them
Cats in most cases use body language to transmit their messages. The thing is we often can’t understand these messages. Because of this, many people even form a wrong image of cats, considering them deceitful, treacherous or self-interested. But all this may be wrongful interpretation by the owner, because he does not recognize many body and voice signs of the felines.
Observe your cat. It is through observation that you will fathom the mystery of his communication.
Below are some signs and their meanings:
- Back arching: The cat does this to look bigger. This may frighten an enemy, being a sign of repulse.
- Loose and relaxed tail: Shows tranquility or indifference.
- Raised tail: Shows interest.
- Tail raised straight up, with the tip waving gently: The cat is showing affection.
- Tail raised straight up with the tip waving rapidly from side to side: Shows the cat is upset.
- Tail on the ground, tip waving occasionally: May indicate the cat is thoughtful or a little bit irritated.
- Tail darting around: Shows irritation.
- Threat signs: Dilated pupils, open mouth showing teeth and making a strong sound.
- Sign of contentment: Eyes slightly closed, ears turned to the front and sometimes purring.
- Whiskers turned to the front: Indicates he is in a bad mood. Together with this expression, he may turn his ears back, which means he is getting angry.
- Sign of hunger: Generally sits, with his tail down, neck straight and stretched. Meows sadly for someone to answer his requests. Kittens, when hungry, cry very similarly to babies. Kittens will cry if hungry, cold or even away from their mother.
- The cat rubs himself on you: He is showing not only affection but also leaving the smell of his body, claiming you as part of his territory.
- The cat lays on the ground and rolls: Shows happiness and satisfaction.
- Meowing: The cat’s many meows are used in different situations, in different forms. So, with time and a life together, there comes a point when the owner is capable of understanding perfectly what the animal wants.
What to do in the most common emergencies?
- Diarrhea: Frequent diarrheas (three or four episodes in a short space of time), mainly if there is any bleeding, can be considered as emergencies due to risk of dehydration. There can be several origins. Verify the characteristics of the feces to give the vet the greatest amount of information possible.
- Vomit: May occur when the animal eats too much and too fast (regurgitation), ingestion of spoiled foods, ingestion of plants or hair balls in the stomach. If vomits become frequent, take him to the vet.
- Poisoning/intoxication: In the case of poisoning (accidental ingestion of medicines, pesticides or cleaning materials), take him along the probable poison to the vet as fast as possible. The most common cause of poisoning among cats is eating the rat that ingested the product, or coming into direct contact with the product.
- External bleeding: Cover the wound with compresses or bandages, keeping them in place until you can talk to your vet.
- Excess heat: Be very careful as to leaving your cat in the car in a sunny day, because temperature inside vehicles tends to go up very fast and the animal will then suffer. If the animal gets puffy, with rapid pulse rate and drooling in excess, give him immediately a fresh water bath; if he does not recover, take him immediately to the vet.
- Insect stings: They are painful and depending of the location the cat can have complications. If there is excessive inflammation of the spot and/or the animal presents a bump on the face and/or in the limbs, take him to the vet.