Kitty FAQ

Click on a FAQ item to show the answer below.

What type of cat food should I feed and how often?

Many of the bagged and canned cat foods available do provide a balanced diet, however, there are certain foods we will recommend as better choices. We will discuss these diets as it pertains to your situation and our handout on specific types of food should be consulted. In terms of feeding schedule, we recommend feeding kittens at specific times of the day. A measured amount of food should be offered 3-4 times a day to a kitten 6-20 weeks of age. What is not eaten after 15-20 minutes should be taken away. After 6 months of age 2 meals will be sufficient for most cats. Because “free feeding” can contribute to obesity in cats we do not recommend it. Always allow cats and dogs 24-hour access to fresh water.

How do I keep my cat from scratching?

Scratching is a normal activity for cats and kittens and you can’t keep them from scratching. In order to minimize damage to you and your furniture, be sure to trim your kitten’s nails on a regular basis and encourage the use of a scratching post. Experiment with the types of surfaces your kitten prefers and use those to construct a scratching post. Some people have also found it helpful to cover their furniture with cloth, double sided tape, or even foil until their kitten is trained to the scratching post. We do not recommend declawing due to the potential medical and behavioral complications. Please see our handout on declawing for further information.

How do I trim my kitten's nails?

It is a good idea to start trimming kitten’s nails when they are first brought into the house. This will make future efforts at trimming go much more smoothly. Human nail trimmers make excellent cat nail trimmers. Begin by trimming off the last 1-2 millimeters of the nail a couple of times over the course of a week. Avoid trimming the “quick” or pink part of the nail that provides its blood supply. If bleeding occurs you can push corn meal, corn flour or regular flour into the nail to stop bleeding. Always give your kitten a reward of verbal praise or a treat immediately after finishing. Most people trim them every few weeks to keep the nails from getting razor sharp. We would be happy to give you a demonstration.

Do I need to give my kitten vitamins or supplements?

We recommend pet foods that are well balanced and have been shown to provide excellent nutritional support. Please see our handout about diets. If your kitten has a hereditary disease or a medical problem early in life we may recommend a supplement based on that condition. Otherwise we do not frequently recommend vitamins for kittens.

Do I need to bathe or groom my kitten?

We recommend getting your kitten accustomed to having a brush or comb run through its hair as part of the process of socialization. This should be done on a daily basis for at least a few minutes; it will help to minimize shedding in the rest of the house. Most cats do not need bathing as they keep themselves clean through grooming. Some very short haired or hairless cats do have additional needs that we will discuss. If you must bathe your cat please take great care to not be injured yourself!

What is the best way to housetrain my kitten?

Most kittens are litter box trained by the time you take them home. The number of litter boxes we recommend is one per cat plus one extra. While covered litterboxes may be convenient for owners, they tend to trap offensive smells inside the box and this can cause an aversion for some. There are a number of different types of litter, but the most important factor is choosing one that your cat likes, so experiment a little. Scoop litterboxes daily and completely dump the litter and scrub the box every 1-2 weeks using hot water and a natural cleaner. Bleach is best avoided but if necessary it must be VERY thoroughly rinsed. Be sure to place litterboxes in quite out-of-the way places so your cat will have some privacy. Some intestinal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms can be transmitted from cat to cat through a litter box. We recommend checking a fecal sample on all kittens at their first visit and yearly thereafter.

Do I need to give my kitten medication for worms?

Eighty-five percent of all kittens have intestinal parasites or worms, and some of these present serious health concerns to children who can be infected with them. It is imperative that children especially wash their hands after playing with kittens. At your initial visit we will evaluate a stool sample for parasites and start your kitten on an intestinal parasite control program as recommended by the Center for Disease Control. Additional unscheduled fecal exams may be recommended if your kitten develops diarrhea, vomiting, or digestive symptoms.

What can we do for fleas and ticks?

The socialization period for puppies is between 4 and 12 weeks of age, and we encourage you to expose your dog to as many types of social events and influences as possible during that time. If a puppy has good experiences with men, women, children, cats or other dogs, etc., it is likely to accept them throughout life. If the experiences are unpleasant or even absent, the puppy may become apprehensive or adverse to any of them.

What is the best way to socialize my kitten?

The socialization period for kittens is between 4 and 12 weeks of age, and we encourage you to expose your cat to as many types of social events and influences as possible during that time. If a cat has good experiences with men, women, children, cats, dogs, etc., it is likely to accept them throughout life. If the experiences are unpleasant or even absent cats may become apprehensive and extremely difficult to socialize later in life.

How do I want my cat and children to interact?

Having children and a kitten/cat at the same time can be a challenge. Children often match a kitten’s energy level and it can be difficult to convince your children that kitten needs his/her quiet time. In fact, you may spend more time teaching your children what is appropriate behavior around kitten than vice versa. We encourage parents to actively involve children in playtime, socializing, and feeding of the new kitten so they learn mutual respect. One of the most frequently encountered problems with kittens is their interest in chewing and scratching on the hands, feet, and ears of children. It is very important that children do not encourage this behavior by continuing to give kitten attention (playing, giggling, pushing her away, etc). Have children stop playing with kitten when he/she gets too rough and is biting too hard. This will let kitten know that biting is not playing and that he/she will not get attention for that behavior. In addition, do not pet your kitten in short strokes on the head or face as that generally results in biting and scratching.

Should I get a microchip for my kitten?

When considering a microchip for your pet you should know the following facts: More than 10 million pets are lost each year; 50% of dogs and 75% of cats arrive at shelters without collars; over 20,000 pets have been returned to their owners through the HomeAgain system. A microchip is a pet retrieval system that involves injecting a small microchip, about the size of a grain of rice, under the skin between the shoulder blades of a dog or cat in much the same way a vaccine is administered. Each chip has a unique digit code that must be registered with the AKC’s program. When a lost pet arrives at a shelter or veterinary clinic a special handheld scanner is passed over the shoulder blades. The scanner can read the identification number and the shelter can then notify the AKC and the pet’s owner or a veterinarian. Side effects to the implant are rare.

Do I need to brush my kitten's teeth?

We recommend that all pets be started on a dental hygiene program that includes brushing of teeth, chewing on dental treats, and periodic dental exams by a veterinarian. We also accept that brushing is challenging with cats. Please see the handout that discusses details of brushing. Dental disease is the most common disease in cats of all ages and can be prevented by brushing his teeth. For those pets more prone to dental problems or those not tolerant of home care we recommend an appointment for dental scaling and polishing. This is done to prevent pulling teeth in an emergency situation where dental disease begins to cause difficulty chewing, loss of bone around teeth, and pain. As dental disease has been linked to heart, liver and kidney disease we must emphasize this advice. An appointment to have a dental cleaning involves removal of plaque and polishing, cleaning under the gums, and probing for periodontal pockets. Sometimes more advance dental work is required and we may refer you to a veterinary dentist. We would be happy to schedule a demonstration to help you start brushing your own pet’s teeth.

What are appropriate toys for my cat?

There is no one single toy that all cats love, and many toys are inappropriate for some cats. Some cats enjoy crumpled paper balls, crinkly balls, mouse or realistic prey animal toys, paper clips, pennies, and anything that can be batted around. Others like things that fly through the air on a wand or on an automated arm. Laser pointers are a favorite for many cats and the ultimate toy may be the presence of another cat or dog companion. Make sure plastic toys, sticks, balls, etc., are not too small as to become lodged in the stomach and cause an obstruction. This has been the cause for many emergency surgeries in the past!

Do I need to worry about heartworm disease?

Heartworms are large, thread-like worms that live in the heart of infected cats. Mosquitoes transmit heartworm disease and infected cats can develop coughing, lethargy, and serious heart disease. Alternatively, some evidence shows that most cats can live a normal lifespan as infected individuals. Given the current research we cannot recommend testing for and prevention of feline heartworm disease because the incidence is so low. There is no currently labeled treatment for feline heartworm disease.