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Proper Nutrition for your Aging Cat

As your cat ages, it may be necessary to make adjustments to your pet’s diet in order to maintain good health. Many cats tend to gain weight as they age. If your cat is overweight, you should ask your veterinarian to help you modify the diet you are feeding so that a normal body condition can be restored. Some cats actually become too thin as they get older, apparently as part of the normal aging process. But progressive weight loss can also be caused by serious medical problems such as kidney failure, cancer, diabetes mellitus, inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease, hyperthyroidism, or some other conditions.

Subtle changes in weight are often the first sign of disease; ideally you should weigh your cat every month on a scale sensitive enough to detect such small changes. Keep a record of the weight, and notify your veterinarian of any significant changes.

To ensure proper nutrition, select a nutritionally balanced and complete diet specifically for senior cats. I t is also important to feed a cat food that has been formulated according to guidelines established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). The AAFCO endorsement can be found on the food package nutrition label.

Specific dietary changes may be necessary for cats with certain medical conditions. Your veterinarian can be of invaluable assistance in helping you select the most appropriate diet for your senior cat.

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Our Overweight Pets

In a survey from October 2013, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) found that 52.6% of dogs and 57.6% of cats are overweight or obese in the United States. The biggest concern with this issue is that 93% of dog owners and 88% of cat owners “thought their pet was in the normal weight range.” Founder of APOP and veterinarian, Ernie Ward, said pet obesity “has the greatest collective negative impact on pet health, and yet it is almost completely avoidable.”

Overweight dogs and cats are such a common site that many of us really do not know what a healthy weight pet should look like. Your pet is maintaining a healthy weight, if, when viewing from above, you can see a distinct indentation or waistline between its ribs and pelvis and you can easily feel its ribs. If your pet looks rounded when viewing from above and you feel a layer of fat over its ribs, he probably needs to lose some weight.

Keeping your pet at a healthy weight makes them less likely to experience a number of issues as they grow older. Overweight pets are far more likely to develop diabetes mellitus that may require regular monitoring of blood sugar levels and daily insulin injections. Joint problems, back pain and respiratory issues are also more common in pets that are overweight.

As health concerns become more prominent in people’s lives, it is also slowly transitioning into the lives of their pets as well. Now, 28% of dog owners and 33% of cat owners buy pet food/nutrition products related to weight/obesity for their dog or cat. As more awareness develops among pet owners, more actions will be seen to prevent pet obesity and help extend the lives of our pets.

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Snakes for Beginners

These snakes are very good for novice owners based on the following criteria:

Initial cost of purchase: Both the snake itself and its setup

Ease of care: How much effort and time you have to put into having an enjoyable pet

Tolerance of mistakes: How hardy it is and how well it will be able to deal with owner mistakes

King Snakes

King Snakes are generally very docile, hardy, and good snakes for beginners. They come in a wide variety of color combinations, but the most common is the California King Snake which is black/white.

Size: Hatchling King Snakes range in size from 12-15 inches in length; adult King Snakes reach anywhere from 3 to 6 feet.

Life span: Usually 12 – 15 years, though they can live 20 years or longer.

Food:  Baby King Snakes will eat pinky mice and graduate up to hopper mice. Adults will typically eat a large mouse or weanling rat.

King Snakes are a good beginner snake for kids because they are easily handled, and are pretty active in their cages, making them interesting to watch. Ensuring you have an escape-proof enclosure will be paramount. As babies, King Snakes can be a little nippy, but quickly become used to being handled. King Snakes are beautiful and can make very good pets

Fun Fact: King Snakes will eat other snakes as well as lizards, fish, and rodents. Because of their willingness to eat other snakes, they should always be kept alone. King Snakes are also immune to the venom of rattle snakes and will eat them in the wild!

Ball Python

The Ball Python is a favorite of many snake enthusiasts as far as a beginner snake. They grow to a maximum size of only 3-5 feet. They’re also docile and easy to handle. Their name comes from the fact that, when threatened, they roll themselves into a ball, using their big bodies to protect their small heads. Were it not for the fact that they can sometimes be finicky eaters, they would have been #1 on the list.

Size: Hatchling Ball Pythons range in size from 12-15 inches in length. Adult Ball Pythons reach anywhere from 3 to 5 feet. Females grow larger than males.

Life span: 20 years or longer.

Food: Baby Ball Pythons will eat mice and weanling rats. Adults will typically eat small rats.

Ball Pythons are a great beginner snake for kids because they are so docile and so easy to handle. They aren’t active until nighttime, though, so if your child is looking for a snake that will be active during the day, a King or Corn Snake would be a better choice. On the opposite end of the scale, they may be so shy that they don’t eat at all. While docile and lovely, Ball Pythons require a lot of patience. Making them feel comfortable means maybe not picking them up for a week or more. Excited kids wanting to interact with their pet may find this a difficult task.

Fun Fact: Because of their popularity in the pet trade, Ball Python breeders have selectively bred animals over the last 20 years or so for a wide variety of color and pattern mutations. We refer to them as “morphs,” as they are genetic mutations.

Corn Snakes

Corn Snakes are #1 on most “best pet snakes” lists and they clinched the #1 spot on the Best Snakes for Children/Beginners list as well. They are very docile, hardy and great snakes for beginners. They come in a wide variety of color combinations, but the most common is red/orange.

They are easily kept, handled, fed, and they seem to have a very outgoing personality. Yes, snakes have personalities. Many Corn Snakes seem to enjoy attention from their owners.

Size: Hatchling Corn Snakes range from 12-15 inches in length. Adult Corn Snakes will reach anywhere from 4 to 6 feet.

Life span: 15-20 years or longer.

Food: Baby Corn Snakes will eat pinky mice and graduate up to hopper mice. Adults will typically eat a large mouse or weanling rat.

Corn Snakes are the best beginner snake for kids because they are easily handled, reluctant to bite, active, colorful, and big enough to be cool but not so big that you’d worry about your child handling his or her pet. Ensuring you have an escape-proof enclosure will be key as Corn Snakes are pretty active. They come in a variety of colors and there are now even scaleless Corn Snakes!

Fun Fact: Like Ball Pythons, Corn Snakes are extremely popular as pets. Also just like Ball Pythons, Corn Snakes are available in a wide variety of color and pattern mutations.

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Toys for Your Ferrets

All ferret owners know that these pets are very inquisitive animals and need plenty of toys to keep them entertained and occupied. If they don’t have enough toys or toys that interest them, they’ll get easily bored and find ways to entertain themselves by getting into things that they shouldn’t! By giving them plenty of fun toys, you’ll be providing them with endless fun and entertainment.

One of the most important things to keep in mind about ferret toys is safety. Ferrets are known for their love of rubber and latex. These are bad toys! Anything with rubber or latex should be avoided! Ferrets can and will chew pieces of rubber off the toy and in doing so they could ingest it and an obstruction could occur, requiring a trip to the vet. Always avoid toys with small pieces or parts and toys that could come apart. If a toy has become torn, broken or worn out; throw it out.

Here are a few ideas for toys that many ferrets love:

Cat teasers
Jingly bells (can be found in cat toy area)
Toy mice of all kinds
Ferret Kongs
Tunnels and tubes
Any plush toys that a ferret can sink its teeth into
Most other cat toys
Tennis balls or other plush balls
Any crinkly toys
Any rattling toys
Hard baby toys
Play tents
Cat scratching houses
Cat crinkle sacks/bags

Ferrets are also known for finding their own toys. It’s well known that a ferret can and will make a toy out of anything. Take socks for example, many ferrets are very amused by socks and love to stash them anywhere they see fit.

Things around the house that ferrets like:

Plastic/paper bags (Only under very close supervision!!)
An old pair of pants for the ferrets to run through
Plastic bottles (empty)
Boxes/Soda Boxes <- All ferrets love boxes!
An old pair of shoes or boots to climb/hide in

WARNING: Some pet toys may have small pieces on them that a ferret could ingest. Ingesting such pieces could cause fatal blockages. Inspect each toy before giving it to your ferret, and remove any small pieces that could pose a threat to your pet!

 

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Choosing Live Freshwater Aquarium Plants

Before you start adding plants into your aquarium, it is very important that you understand the pros and cons of adding freshwater plants to your aquarium. Fully understanding both the benefits and negative aspects of having freshwater plants in your fish tank will lead to a more satisfying experience with your aquarium hobby.

Pros of Freshwater Aquarium Plants

During the daytime, freshwater plants take in carbon dioxide, while giving off oxygen, aiding in a healthy habitat.

Most plants harbor bacteria that aid in the breakdown of wastes. This may lessen the need for chemical filtration.

Some aquarium plants may also act as a food source for some fish in the tank.

Cons of Freshwater Aquarium Plants

If left untended, some plants may outgrow your fish tank and may need regular trimming.

Dead plant matter can create a lot of debris and waste.

At night, freshwater plants tend to reverse their daytime process by giving off carbon dioxide while taking in oxygen levels causing a problem for some fish species.

Below is a list of some of the best freshwater aquarium plants for beginners.

Java Moss

Java moss is used by many aquarium enthusiasts to replicate moss, algae, and tree leaves. To make the best of it, it is suggested to take a piece of the java moss and tie it to some driftwood with some fishing line. After a few months, it will start to grow around the driftwood piece replicating an underwater tree.

Baby Tears

Baby tears come in two different sizes (baby tears and dwarf baby tears. Dwarf baby tears are generally recommended because they are much easier to maintain.

Dwarf Hair Grass

Hair grass is another type of grass-like aquarium plant similar to the pygmy chain sword, but it has much thinner leaves. The thin grass gives the aquarium a very unique type of feel, especially when currents move the stands of hair grass back and forth with ease.

Pygmy Chain Sword

Pygmy chain sword is known for its similarity to grass. It creates a feel much like the dwarf hair grass, but with slightly thicker leaves.

Amazon Sword

The amazon sword plant is one of the hardiest and best freshwater aquarium plants for beginners. Amazon swords are known to grow 12+ inch leaves, so you will definitely be needing to trim them every once in a while.

Anubias Nana

The anubias nana is another great type of freshwater aquarium plant for beginners. The biggest benefit of this plant is the amount of coverage it provides. If you have fish that love to hide, or are in need of hiding spots in your fish tank, the anubias nana is the plant you are going to want to go with. It does not grow past 6 inches, so you won’t have to worry about trimming often.

Cryptocoryne Wendtii

Cryptocornes (also known as crypts) are a family of plants that are used by a lot of fish-keepers. The colors range from green to reddish-brown. There are many different sizes of cryptocrynes as well. Size and color all depends on the lighting being used and the species of crypts that you have.

Java Fern

Java fern is a great addition to any aquarium because of its beauty and easiness to care for. It is important that you keep the rhizome (the creeping root stock)  planted above the substrate, otherwise, your entire plant may rot. Does great planted on driftwood.

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Common Household Toxins

Toxic substances can present a serious health risk for your pet bird. Many pet owners are unaware that certain substances can be toxic to their birds. The following is Pet Poison Helpline’s (24/7 Animal Poison Control Center 855-764-7661) list of the five most common household toxins to be aware of for pet bird owners.

Lead – Lead poisoning has historically been the most common metal poisoning in caged birds, but due to increased knowledge of the human health problems caused by lead, its use in the home has significantly decreased.

Sources

> Lead-based paint > Foil wrap on some champagne and wine bottles > Curtain weights > Bells with lead clappers > Imported bird toys > Stained glass

Symptoms

> Depression  > Weakness > Weight loss > Vomiting or regurgitation > Excessive thirst > Seizures >Diarrhea

If your pet bird, or any pet in the home is diagnosed with lead poisoning, it is always recommend that people in the home—especially the children—be tested also.

Zinc – Zinc poisoning is now the most common metal poisoning in caged birds and occurs after ingestion of items containing zinc.

Sources

> Galvanized products, such as wire cages, mesh, staples, nails and toys. (Galvanization is the process of coating a metal with an alloy containing more than 98 percent zinc. This is done to protect the metal against rusting.)  > Fertilizers > Some paints >Some shampoos > Zinc oxide > Pennies minted after 1982

Symptoms

> Similar to those seen with lead poisoning.

Avocado – Pet birds should never be fed avocado, as it is extremely poisonous and can result in sudden death. All parts of avocado, including the leaves and bark of the trees are toxic to birds.

Symptoms

> Agitation  > Feather-pulling > Lethargy > Food refusal > Breathing difficulty > Congestion  > Heart problems  > Death

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) or “Teflon toxicity” – Birds’ unique respiratory systems makes them more sensitive to airborne toxins than are mammals. “Teflon toxicity” is one of the most common airborne poisonings in pet birds.

Sources

> Nonstick surfaces on Teflon cookware, drip pans, heat lamp covers, irons and ironing board covers. Toxic particulates and gases are produced when the surface is heated to extreme temperatures. This can occur when a pan boils dry or an empty pan is heated on high (poisoning is not expected during routine cooking)  > Stain-guard treatments for upholstered furniture

Symptoms

> Breathing difficulties  > Uncoordinated movements > Depression or anxious behavior in cases of mild exposure  > Sudden death due to respiratory failure

Other inhaled toxins Your pet bird has a very efficient respiratory system. Compared to mammals, more oxygen is transferred into the blood with each breath. Unfortunately, this means more toxins are also transferred into an exposed bird with each breath, making them more sensitive to harm from inhaled toxins.

Sources

The following can all be harmful when they are found or used in close proximity to birds. However, with appropriate ventilation and use, these substances may not be toxic.

> Carbon monoxide and other harmful gases > Smoke from tobacco products > Fumes from new carpets and furniture  > Air fresheners and scented candles  > Paints  > Glues > Household cleaning products      > Mothballs  > Hair spray and nail polish.

Symptoms

Signs are variable based on source and level of exposure.

> Breathing difficulties  > Eye discharge and nasal passage irritation  > Possible immunosuppression       > Sudden death

How to protect companion birds

When using products that give off strong fumes, it’s best to move the bird to a separate room in the home and open windows to ensure plenty of ventilation. Place a towel under the door of the bird’s room to help reduce exposure to fumes. When painting walls in a home, use VOC (volatile organic compound)-free paints. Alternatively, consider boarding birds off-site during construction, remodeling or intense whole-house cleaning until odors have dissipated.

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Hairballs

Most cat owners have seen their pet regurgitate a hairball at one time or another. Hairballs can result from your cat’s normal habit of grooming itself. As your cat grooms itself with its tongue, it swallows a lot of loose hair. Unfortunately, hair is indigestible. Most of the swallowed hair passes uneventfully through your cat’s digestive tract and gets excreted intact in the feces, but some of it may remain in the stomach and gradually accumulates into a hairball.

It’s not uncommon for a cat to regurgitate a hairball once every week or two. For the most part, hairballs do not pose a health risk for your cat. However, if the wad of matted hair in the stomach grows too large to be regurgitated back up the esophagus or pass into the intestinal tract, your cat may need to be seen by a veterinarian.

A cat that is lethargic, refuses to eat for more than a day or two or has had repeated episodes of unproductive retching or true vomiting should be examined by a veterinarian without delay. It’s possible that the frequent hacking has nothing at all to do with hairballs. It may instead be a sign of another gastrointestinal problem or of a respiratory ailment, such as asthma, in which case emergency treatment may be necessary. Medical management is sometimes necessary to help move the hairball through the digestive tract. In rare cases, a hairball may be so large that surgery may be required to remove the potential blockage. Never give your cat laxatives or rely on diet alone if you believe your cat has a hairball that it cannot bring up. If your cat has a blockage caused by a hairball, this can become a life-threatening situation and can only be assessed and treated by your veterinarian.

Some cats groom themselves more than others, which makes them more prone to developing hairballs. Also, development of hairballs is more frequent at times of the year when cats are normally shedding their coats. To minimize the development of hairballs and their complications, get into the habit of brushing and combing your cat’s hair coat daily. If your cat will not allow you to brush it, take it to a reputable groomer for a haircut once or twice a year. This is especially helpful in long-haired breeds. Feeding your cat a hairball remedy once or twice a week may also help. This is usually in the form of a petroleum-based paste, which cats may find tasty.

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Crate Training Your New Puppy

Introducing a new puppy into your family comes with its own special set of challenges, but crate training can help make that process much easier.

Training your puppy to sleep in a crate can help with house training. Dogs naturally do not want to eliminate where they sleep. A proper size crate for a puppy is one in which they have just enough room to turn around comfortably. If your crate is too large, a puppy may have enough room to eliminate in one corner and then go back to sleep in a clean corner. If your puppy has just enough room to sleep comfortably, he will alert you by whining or barking when he needs to go out. Keep in mind that very young puppies may not be able to go all night without at least one trip outside. By the time a puppy is 10-12 weeks old, he can usually go about 6-8 hours at night before needing to go out.

Crate training can also help your puppy to develop appropriate chewing habits. Puppies need to chew. Chewing not only helps with the teething process, it is how a puppy learns about his environment. Puppies will try to chew on most anything in order to learn if it is food, something fun, or something to be avoided. Your puppy should be crated any time that he cannot be directly supervised. Providing your puppy with appropriate chew toys while in his crate will help him to develop the habit of chewing on only the toys that you provide. This not only helps to protect your belongings such as socks, shoes and furniture, it also protects your puppy from injury. Unsupervised puppies can get into all sorts of mischief, included chewing on dangerous objects such as electrical cords and swallowing items that could potentially lead to intestinal blockages.

Each time you place your puppy in his new crate, give a command such as “crate” or “kennel” and reward him with a small tasty treat. Once they get used to sleeping in the crate, many puppies find it a comforting spot to relax and willing enter the crate when asked to do so. The crate becomes a safe, secure retreat for your puppy. Crate training is one of the best things that you can do for your new puppy, and your household belongings!

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Caring For Your New Puppy


Feeding Your New Puppy

Puppies have specific nutritional needs that must be met in order to allow them to grow up healthy and happy. Avoid using generic brand foods as they may contain inferior ingredients. Feed your pet food that is specifically recommended for puppies, which will contain all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients that are essential for growing strong bones and muscles. Puppies are very active and grow at an incredible rate. Be sure to follow feeding guidelines recommended on the puppy food that you choose. It is important that fresh drinking water is available for your puppy at all times. Dogs thrive on routine, therefore, feeding should occur at the same time and place every day. Avoid feeding your puppy from the table as this will encourage him to beg every time you eat and can lead to health problems. Food and water bowls should be washed and dried on a regular basis using hot soapy water. Placing a mat under the food and water bowls can make clean-up much easier.

“Puppy-Proofing” Your Home

Puppies are energetic and mischievous pets that require your protection to ensure their safety. Be sure to keep all poisonous substances up high and safely out of puppies’ reach. This would include cleaning products, insecticides, medications and many common houseplants. Cover all waste cans or secure them behind a tightly closed door; it is amazing what a dog will eat. It is a good idea to crate your puppy when you are not available to monitor his activities.

Grooming

Puppies under 16 weeks old should not be bathed unless absolutely necessary. If a bath is needed, use a very gentle dog shampoo. When bathing, be careful to protect your dog’s eyes and ears from soap and water. Make certain that you rinse your pet well. Keep your puppy warm and out of drafts until it is completely dry. Dogs need to be brushed frequently and this routine grooming will alert you to problems your pet may be experiencing with fleas, ticks or mites. A puppy’s nails should be clipped to ensure his comfort and promote good foot development. Your puppy’s teeth should be brushed daily. Your pet store will carry all products required for your dog’s dental health care. Brushing is beneficial in fighting plaque, keeping tartar build-up to a minimum and freshening bad breath.

Handling

A new puppy will require lots of peace and quiet as it adjusts to its new home. Provide a dog bed, crate or box lined with blankets. A crate should be your first choice as it is also beneficial in housetraining. Children should be supervised with a new pet to avoid unintentional injury. Handling and playtime should be kept to a minimum. Children should be instructed in the proper way to pick up and a hold a puppy. Place one hand under the puppy’s chest and the other under his hindquarters. Hold him by cradling in your arms. Never pick up a puppy by his front legs or under the armpits. Dogs should not be allowed to roam freely outside where there is danger of injury from cars, animals and disease. Keeping your dog on a leash will prevent him from getting into potentially harmful or poisonous trash and help protect him from other dangerous situations. One of the simplest ways to protect your dog is with an ID tag. The tag should provide your name, address and telephone number and should be hung from a collar around your dog’s neck. If your dog happens to wander off, it will be easy for the finder to locate you.

Training

Learn to anticipate your puppy’s needs. A new puppy will have to eliminate about every two hours. Place your puppy in the same spot in the yard the first thing in the morning, the last thing in the evening, after every meal and every two hours in between. Stay with him until he has performed and then praise him for his accomplishment. Do not punish him if he has an accident in the house as it will only cause unnecessary fears and anxiety.

New puppies do not have the control necessary to make it through the night with out a trip outside. The first week with your new pet, set your alarm for every four hours to get up and take your puppy for a walk. The next week, increase the time to five hours and the next, six. It is highly beneficial to use a crate when training your puppy. Puppies feel very secure in their crates and should always be kept in them at night and when they can not be supervised. Make sure that your puppy has plenty of chew toys to play with while he is crated.

Playtime!

Puppies love to play, and exercise is essential for their good health. Time should be set aside every day for exercise, like a nice long walk on a leash. When your pet has achieved basic obedience training, you may take him to a dog park and unleash him so that you may play a game of fetch with a ball or Frisbee. Chew toys are very important for puppies; they assist your puppy in the cutting and shedding of baby teeth and the cutting and setting of permanent teeth. Providing chew toys for your puppy will also prevent him from choosing something more valuable or dangerous to chew on.

Vaccinations

Take your new puppy to the vet as soon as possible after you bring him home. Your veterinarian will administer or schedule the vaccinations necessary to protect your puppy from several serious diseases. A series of vaccinations, for most puppies, will be administered at 6 weeks, 9 weeks, 12 weeks and 16 weeks of age and then annually. Your vet will also address deworming, heartworm and Lyme disease.

Spaying/Neutering

Spaying and neutering is the safe and common practice of surgically removing the animal’s reproductive organs. This will not only reduce the population of unwanted pets, but it also reduces the risk of reproductive cancers and can make your pet calmer and more affectionate. Contact your vet for an appointment or check your local S.P.C.A. to locate a low cost clinic in your area.

Supplies to Have on Hand

  • puppy food
  • food bowl & water bowl
  • stain & odor neutralizer
  • pet carrier (for traveling)
  • bed or mat for sleeping
  • collar and ID tag
  • toys
  • dog toothbrush & toothpaste
  • ear cleaner
  • flea prevention medication

Caring For Your New Kitten

Feeding Your New Kitten

Kittens have specific nutritional needs that must be met in order to allow them to grow up healthy and happy. Avoid using generic brand foods as they may contain inferior ingredients. Feed your pet food that is specifically recommended for kittens. In choosing a good quality cat food, meat or fish should be the first ingredient listed. Avoid feeding table scraps as they will fill your kitten’s stomach without providing the appropriate nutrition. Never feed your cat raw fish, chicken or meats as they may contain parasites or harmful bacteria. Avoid giving your cat milk to drink; it is not necessary to a healthy diet and may cause diarrhea. Your new kitten’s stomach is tiny so it will need frequent small meals to remain satisfied. Kittens 8-12 weeks old require 4 meals a day. Permanent teeth come in at 4-5 months of age and you can reduce feeding to 3 meals a day. By the time your cat is 1 year old it should be eating 2 meals a day. Fresh drinking water should be available at all times. Ceramic or metal bowls are best for feeding your kitten. Food and water bowls should be washed on regular basis with hot soapy water. Water bowls should be wide at the bottom to help prevent tipping. Placing a mat under the food and water bowls can make clean-up much easier.

“Kitten-Proofing” Your Home

Kittens are curious little creatures that need protection. It is the responsibility of the owner to keep the kitten’s surrounding as safe as possible. Kittens can squeeze through very small openings. Secure any areas where your kitten may become trapped. Check your screens to make sure they are in good repair so that your kitten can not escape to the dangerous world outside. Keep kittens off balconies to prevent a fall. Keep toilet lids down to prevent drowning or the drinking of water that may be poisoned with cleaners. Close the dryer door after use; cats love warm quiet places to sleep. Keep all pets from fireplaces and lit candles. Place cleaning chemicals, cosmetics and medications in tightly closed closets or cabinets. Some common houseplants are also poisonous to pets.

Grooming

Cats do not require bathing; they are very clean animals that groom themselves constantly. It is, however, a good idea to brush or comb your cat’s fur on a regular basis. The earlier you introduce your kitten to brushing, the quicker he will become accustomed to it. Cats generally love the attention while being brushed and it affords a special bonding time for you and your pet. Regular brushing will also reduce the amount of fur on your carpets, furniture and in your cat’s stomach. Trim your cat’s nails regularly to keep them blunt. Dry food can help keep your cat’s teeth clean, but occasional brushing is also beneficial in fighting plaque, keeping tartar build-up to a minimum and freshening breath.

Handling

Be sure to use a cat carrier when you bring your new kitten home. You will need this piece of equipment every time you transport your pet. Keep in mind when you purchase your carrier to buy one large enough for a full grown cat. A cat carrier also makes a quiet refuge for your kitten. Simply place the open carrier in a quiet, draft free location with a cozy blanket inside. Introducing your new kitten to your home should be a gradual process. Children should be supervised with a new pet to avoid unintentional injury. Remember that your new addition is not a toy and requires a lot of rest and quiet as he becomes accustomed to his new environment. Kittens usually adapt well to any house or apartment. It is not safe, however, to allow your pet to roam freely outside where there is danger from cars, animals and disease. Your cat should have an ID tag with your name, address and telephone number on it. If your cat does accidently slip outside, it will be easy for someone to return your pet. Hang you ID tag from an elastic collar; these collars allow the cat to escape easily if the collar gets caught on something.

Litter Training

Most kittens are litter trained by their mothers. When bringing home a new kitten, it is a good idea to place him in the litter box after meals and each time he wakes from sleeping. Choose a litter box with low side for young kittens so it is easy for them to get in and out. The litter box should be larger than the length of the cat’s body plus the tail. As your kitten grows, change to a litter box with higher sides to prevent litter from being pushed out. Do not place the litter box near your pet’s food. The litter box should be filled with about 2 inches of litter and scooped every day; a cat will not use a dirty litter box. Change the litter and wash the box with mild soap and water once a week.

Playtime!

Kittens love to play! Provide your pet with an assortment of items to keep him happily occupied and to provide exercise. Look for toys that your kitten can chase, push and pull. Anything tied to a string on the end of a stick makes a wonderful toy for chasing. Avoid toys with small pieces that can be swallowed if they become detached such as bells and buttons. Another good idea is a scratching post as scratching is a natural, basic behavior for cats.

Vaccinations

Take your new kitten to the vet as soon as possible after you bring it home. Your vet will schedule the vaccinations needed to protect your cat from several serious diseases as well as screen for intestinal parasites and ear mites.

Spaying/Neutering

Spaying and neutering is the safe and common practice of surgically removing the animal’s reproductive organs. This will not only reduce the population of unwanted pets, but it also reduces the risk of reproductive cancers and can make your pet calmer and more affectionate. Contact your vet for an appointment or check your local S.P.C.A. to locate a low cost clinic in your area.

Supplies to Have on Hand

  • kitten food
  • food bowl & water bowl
  • litter pan, litter & scoop
  • stain & odor neutralizer
  • pet carrier (for traveling)
  • bed or mat for sleeping
  • collar and ID tag
  • scratching post
  • toys
  • cat toothbrush & toothpaste
  • hairball paste
  • ear cleaner
  • flea prevention medication