In Part II of the “6 most frequently asked questions regarding your new kitten,” I covered the subjects of grooming your kitten and dealing with their energy levels. This is the third and final part of the series and deals with the following questions:
• How do I know if my kitten is growing properly?
• When is it necessary for me to take my kitten to the veterinarian?
How do I know if my kitten is growing properly? A standard rule of thumb with early feline growth patterns is that a kitten typically gains about 100 grams per week during the first six months of its life. Sometimes they will gain up to 1 pound per month, and the males tend to gain weight quicker and be larger than the females. There are three things that you should notice in order to realize that your kitten is growing the right way. Your kitten should be:
1. eating well
2. exhibiting a normal amount of playfulness
3. having normal bowel movements
Here are a few suggestions. If there is a concern about your kitten’s behavior and growth, then by all means, take it to your veterinarian. If you are raising the kitten on a bottle-feeding regimen, then keep a journal daily to note how much weight they are gaining on a daily basis (your veterinarian will appreciate this). Finally, another key aspect is your kitten’s ribcage. They should have some padding around the ribs, so that they are not sticking out, so to speak. If their ribs are too prominent, then you should contact your veterinarian for an appointment.
When is it necessary for me to take my kitten to the veterinarian? Kittens come into the house from a variety of different places. Typically, they come from one of the following sources:
• Breeders (or a “cattery”)
• The outdoors in general
• Pet stores
Long before you adopted them and brought them into your home, they could have picked up a health condition or disease from another cat and just started showing signs of something being wrong since you brought them home. The following 7 behaviors (or signs) should be perceived as “red flags” and you should get your kitten to the vet ASAP:
• Black ear discharge that accompanies frequent itching and/or “digging” at the ear
• Continual or frequent vomiting
• Diarrhea or (conversely) a difficulty passing bowel movements
• Discharge from the eye or nose and sneezing (could indicate an upper respiratory tract infection)
• Lethargy and lack of eating
• Loss of hair or a rash
• Not defecating or urinating in the litter box, or straining while they are using the litter box
There is no other pet that you can bring into your home that is quite as amazing as a new kitten, and that first year of their lives is equally as phenomenal considering that within those 12 months, they attain adulthood. It is imperative that you sharpen your knowledge about feline preventative health because more than anything else, you want to establish a strong base in order to support that kitten the rest of its life.
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