New Kitten Information
You got a new kitten! Now what?
Congratulations on your adorable new companion!
Your veterinarian is your partner in making sure your kitten gets the best start possible, as these early months of life are extraordinarily important in determining the health, behavior, and well-being of the adult cat your pet will become.
Below is information on what you can expect when you bring your pet in for his or her initial kitten exams. You will also find links to help you make the best care and training decisions for your brand new family member.
First Kitten Visit
- Overall health: The veterinarian will check for congenital issues, soundness of the body, and signs of infectious issues.
- Immunizations: All kittens need an initial series of core vaccinations for certain diseases. Once your kitten is an adult, there are some that may be optional depending upon the environment and other factors. For example, if your adult cat will be purely indoors, he or she will not need the feline leukemia vaccine in adulthood. However, because your kitten has an increased risk of contracting this disease, we recommend giving this vaccine to all kittens.
- Parasite Prevention: You’ll have a discussion on both external (fleas and ticks) and internal (intestinal worms and heartworm) parasites. You can also talk to your veterinarian about other types of parasite prevention based on your cat’s lifestyle and environment.
- Feeding/Nutrition: There are a lot of different cat foods on the market. Determining what’s right for your pet based on age, breed, and nutritional needs is an important decision.
Second Exam (12-14 Weeks)
- Health assessment: The veterinarian can determine if your cat’s growth and development are on track and if any future health issues are developing.
- Immunizations: Your kitten will receive his or her second set of core “kitten shots” at this visit. This is when your cat will likely have the rabies vaccination to meet the State of Texas rabies vaccination requirements.
- Parasite prevention: Your kitten will need a second round of deworming at this visit for intestinal parasites if intestinal parasites were found on the initial exam and no additional deworming was done prior to adoption. We will also continue any heartworm and flea prevention started at the first visit.
- Feeding/Nutrition: Your pet’s nutritional needs will be assessed by the veterinarian to make sure that your kitten’s growth is as expected and no changes need to be made in your feeding protocol.
Third Exam (16–18 Weeks)
- Health Assessment: Checking for appropriate growth and development
- Immunizations: The last set of core “kitten shots” will be administered at this visit.
- Parasite Prevention: Heartworm and flea prevention will be continued at this visit. After the last kitten visit, you will need to continue to monitor your kitten’s weight so we can adjust dosing for parasite prevention as your kitten grows. All heartworm and flea prevention should be continued year round in our part of the country. If your kitten is outdoors unsupervised, we will also consider starting tick prevention.
- Preparation for spay/neuter: Unless you are planning to breed your cat, surgical sterilization is part of your responsibility as a pet owner, and has many health benefits for both males and females. Males and females can be altered as soon as they are healthy and of weight to safely undergo anesthesia. We generally recommend sterilization surgery around 5 to 6 months of age for all cats.
- Microchipping: This small transmitter is your pet’s ticket home should they become lost. This can be placed during the last kitten visit. However, while insertion usually causes very little pain, many pet parents opt to have this done while their pet is anesthetized for spay/neuter surgery.
Other things to consider while raising your new kitten are listed below.
Please bring up any questions or problems with your veterinarian and veterinary technician when you bring your kitten for his or her routine kitten visits.
- Litter box training: For most cats, this can be accomplished fairly easily, but it does require appropriate introduction and litter box hygiene.
- Appropriate behavior/Socialization: If you start young, you can keep many unwanted behaviors from ever developing and training will be much easier. Socialization—introducing your cat to new people, places, and other animals—is among the most important things you can do for a young cat.
- Environment: Kittens need stimulation, or they can become bored and develop behavior problems. Spend time with your kitten playing a few times per day to keep your young feline busy and happy. Provide your kitten with scratching posts and surfaces to curb destructive behavior. Most kittens will eventually need a safe place to get away from irritants or frightening things. It’s best to find a little hiding spot for your cat’s carrier, behind a chair or another piece of furniture. This will give them a safe place to hide from other pesky family members, such as your dog or toddler. It will also help your kitten adjust to the carrier when needed to transport them to our office.
- Bathing/Grooming: A quick brushing or regular full-on grooming? Ask our veterinarians what your kitten will need now and when they’re grown to keep them healthy and happy.
- Pet Health Insurance: Now is the time to sign your cat up for veterinary insurance! This coverage is significantly less expensive if you obtain it early in your cat’s life, and will help cover many major veterinary expenses that occur when they’re older.