Posts Tagged: caring for cats

What you need to know about caring for cats of all ages

caring for cats

Proper socialization and exposure to new situations is important to prevent fears and anxieties in cats.  Dr. Coffin will discuss developmental periods and tips in caring for cats of all ages.[Tweet “Proper socialization and exposure to new situations is important to prevent fears and anxieties in cats.”]

NEONATAL:  (Birth-2 weeks)  Kitten’s diet is comprised entirely of milk.  They rely on their mother for stimulation to urinate and defecate.  Their eyes open and they begin walking when they are about 14 days old.  They are not able to regulate their own body temperature or groom themselves.  

What you should do when caring for cats in this age group:

  • Provide high quality nutrition for the queen.  Dr. Coffin recommends kitten food as it is higher in protein and calories for a lactating cat.
  • Minimal but gentle handling of the kittens
  • Provide warm and safe environment
  • If mother is not present, rub around the butt with warm, wet towels to stimulate eliminations. 

EARLY SOCIALIZATION:  (3-8 weeks)  Kittens begin to eat solid food and milk consumption slowly stops.  They develop control of their bladder and bowel function and will begin to use a litter box.  Guthrie vets stress that this is the critical period for social learning.  Eye color changes during this time frame and baby teeth begin to erupt.  Kittens are able to regulate their own body temperature and begin to groom themselves.

What you should do when caring for cats in this age group:

  • Provide high quality kitten food and fresh water daily
  • Frequent gentle handling and play with many people including men, women and children.  Expose to other cats, dogs and other species.  Reward appropriate friendly behavior to humans and other animals
  • Provide litter boxes with low sides for easy entry.  Use unscented litter and scoop twice daily.
  • Environmental enrichment:  toys, scratching post, cat towers.  Make the carrier a safe haven by leaving it out in the house with the door open.  Throw toys and treats inside the crate several times daily.  Gently handle face, feet and ears.  Begin training to harness and leash.
  • NEVER use hands and feet to play with kittens.  This teaches your kitten bad habits.  Always use toys.
  • Guthrie vet appointment for 1st set of vaccines.

LATE SOCIALIZATION:  (9-16 weeks)  At this age, kittens are continuing to learn social skills and their social play is at its peak.  They are vigorously exploring the environment and climbing.  Adult teeth begin to emerge and those sharp needle baby teeth are going away.

What you should do when caring for cats in this age group:

  • Continue social education.  Kittens that have not had adequate social experience during early socialization will require an extra effort to acquire good social skills.
  • Will need a larger litter box (smallest box length should be 1.5 times the cat’s body length).
  • Provide vertical space (climbing structures).  Continue with basic training.
  • Guthrie vet appointment for 2nd and 3rd set of vaccines

ADOLESCENCE:  (17 weeks – 1 year) Sexual maturity occurs during this time.  Cats in multi cat households learn their hierarchy.  Spraying may occur, especially if not spayed and neutered.

What you should do when caring for cats in this age group:

  • Start transition to high quality adult food at 6 –8 months of age.  Food puzzles and food toys are a great way to feed your cats.
  • Continue playing and reward friendly behavior
  • Reevaluate litter box size
  • Provide identification such as microchip, collar with tags, especially if the cat goes outside.
  • Guthrie vet appointment for neutering.

 

ADULT:  (1-6 years)  At this age, cat’s metabolic rate slows which can lead to weight gain if diet and exercise is not monitored.  A cat is socially mature at 2-3 years of age.  A cat’s personality is strongly affected by genetics and early social experiences.

What you should do when caring for cats in this age group:

  • Assess weight every 3 months and change feeding and exercise as necessary.
  • Continue to play with and reward friendly behavior
  • Reevaluate litter box size
  • Rotate toys for play, replace beds, litter boxes and other supplies as needed.
  • Guthrie vet appointment annually for vaccines and comprehensive examination.

SENIOR:  (7 years and older) Changes in appetite can occur during this time.  Cats become less active which can lead to less social interaction.

What you should do when caring for cats in this age group:

  • Monitor appetite and water intake
  • Continue social interaction even if lower activity level is needed
  • Extra grooming may be needed
  • Medical problems increase with age and can present as behavior changes.
  • Guthrie vet appointment for comprehensive exam every 6 months and annual vaccines.

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Dr. Anna was born and raised in Guthrie, Oklahoma. As a teenager, Dr. Anna found her beloved pet dead on the side of the road left to die without any help. That was the moment she decided to become a vet and vowed to help other people and their pets. After a few years of practicing in New Hampshire, Dr. Anna became homesick and decided to return to Guthrie to be with her parents and five other siblings. Family and friends are a major part of our lives which is why we treat our clients at Guthrie Pet Hospital as family.  Dr. Anna and her husband do not have children but are very proud pet parents and therefore, treat every four-legged friend as part of the family.

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