Kitten 6 - 12 Months
Everything a kitten experiences in her first formative months has an effect on the rest of her life.
A kitten’s first and most important teacher is her mother, who’ll teach her everything she needs to know to survive, from how to look after her coat and nails to all aspects of toilet training. The kitten will also learn about potential dangers and that some things are just not allowed!
A kitten’s character will already be formed by the second to seventh week of her life, and her behaviour in later life will depend on this. So, if you want your kitten to be an open and active member of the family, it’s important to handle her, talk to her and stroke her while she’s still very young.
After your kitten is 8 weeks old, you will be her new parent. You’ll need to teach her everything she needs to know about living together happily with humans. A few firm words if she misbehaves, are best. As a result, she’ll associate good behaviour with fuss and attention, and be deterred from behaviour that gets a less than favourable response.
A few safety tips for your kitten:
- Although cats are renowned for their free spirited behaviour, believe it or not, they quite like having a collar. Be sure to attach a tag with your telephone number on it in case your kitty finds herself lost.
- For her own protection, keep your kitten at home for two weeks after she’s been vaccinated. So keep the doors closed.
- Open windows, especially upstairs ones, can be a risk.
- Kids love kittens, but they can be clumsy and that can be dangerous for fragile little bones. So stay watchful. Dogs and cats can be jealous of new arrivals, and may even harm them if left alone together. Introduce her gradually to the rest of the household, and keep her away from other pets when you’re not around. It won’t take long for them to get used to each other.
Her diet should be nutritionally balanced and highly digestible, and should suit her relaxed lifestyle. Poor quality, indigestible food can slow her growth, cause poor muscle and bone development and depress her resistance to disease. On the other hand, too many nutrients (which she’ll get from table scraps and some pet foods) can cause problems too. Whiskas® Kitten Pouches contain everything your kitten needs to get the right nutritional balance at every mealtime.
FLEAS, WORMS AND YOUR KITTEN
If you’re lucky, your little fur ball will never be bothered by fleas. If she is, she’ll scratch and bite herself, and in some cases might have a skin reaction. But never fear: it’s easy to spot when fleas have made their home on your kitten. They’re brownish-black in colour and you’ll see them moving about on her coat. You’ll also notice black specks of flea dirt under her fur.
Ask your vet for advice on treating fleas and, if you do buy a treatment from a pet shop, make sure it’s suitable for kittens and that you have enough to treat all the animals in the house. Also remember that if your kitten has fleas, you will have fleas in your house, so it is important that you remedy the situation in your house at the same time as you remedy the situation with your kitten.
Is she starting to look a bit portly? It might not be her diet. Roundworms (urgh!) can give her a pot-bellied look and cause horrible things like vomiting, diarrhoea, poor condition and slowed growth. Don’t worry though, there are lots of really good treatments which are usually given every fortnight between the ages of 5 and 12 weeks, and then every 3 to 6 months after that. Make sure you find out what treatment your kitten has already had before her arrival. Your vet will tell you what to do next.
TIME TO NEUTER?
The breeding season lasts from late winter to late summer, but all year round for indoor cats. You might notice that the mating urge can give rise to some unusual behaviour. A queen in heat is said to be “calling” and will be noisy and restless, often squirming and rolling about on the floor. Toms, on the other hand, may roam, get into fights and spray the house with urine. Not much fun.
From an early age (between five and six months) cats can give birth three times every year throughout their lives. We recommend neutering, but your vet will be able to talk to you about cat rearing if that’s the route you want to take.
WHEN TO VACCINATE AND WHY?
Your kitten’s first injections will usually be given at nine weeks, followed by a second lot at 12 weeks – however, some vaccines can differ so it is best to check with your vet when your kitten needs their vaccines. The influenza vaccine is often given as nose drops rather than by injection.
Feline infectious enteritis (FIE), feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR), feline calicivirus (FCV) and cat influenza are all very infectious and can prove dangerous for kittens. Fortunately, however, there are vaccines against all of them.
As soon as your new kitten sets paw in her new home for the first time she’s relying on you to take good care of her. So register her with the vet as soon as you can!
While the vet’s role is important, the real centre of your kitten’s universe is you, and her wellbeing depends on your knowledge and attention. That’s why you should start checking her mouth and teeth as early as possible. It’ll be much easier to clean her teeth properly if you’re really familiar with her little fangs.
It’s especially important to check her front teeth and incisors for tartar. If you notice red, swollen gums, take her to the vet and she’ll soon be right as rain. Aim to have her teeth checked at least once a year, maybe along with her annual vaccinations.
However much she meows in complaint, it’s important that the two of you get into a good grooming, worming and de-fleaing routine, along with regular check-ups and all necessary booster vaccinations. Shower her with love and she’ll soon forget to complain.
The last thing you want is for your kitten to be bored. Kittens who can’t find entertainment from their owners may easily turn their attentions to your furniture or carpets, so keeping her hunter’s instinct comfortably quelled will do both of you wonders. And it’s a great opportunity for you to bond, too.
There are all kinds of ways you can provide stimulation for your little one, keeping both her mind and body healthily active. Toys (particularly hanging or moving ones) and feeding puzzles are great. Providing resting places at a range of different heights, and a good view of the outside world, are ideal too.