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Life Stages

Life Stages - Kittens Congratulations on your new family member! This is a fun and important time for you and your kitten’s life. Read on for more information on the specific phases of your new friend’s life and on what you need to know to keep your new pet healthy.

Kittens 7-14 weeks

Kittens are very playful during this phase and you will see pouncing, ambushing, chasing, etc. They are busy honing their “hunting” skills and these activities are learned from observing their mom and siblings. Kittens this age will also begin to play with objects – tossing, pawing, mouthing, etc. New kittens are always fun to watch as they grow and develop. They need an owner committed to their socialization, training and routine care. Many of the problems that arise for kittens – play aggression, clawing/scratching, elimination outside the litter box and intercat aggression – can be avoided if you are aware of how to best anticipate and manage them. Be sure to provide your kitten with a cat proofed area to play and plenty of outlets for activity (toys, cat towers, scratching posts).

Be sure to bring your kitten to a Veterinarian for a complete physical exam. It is a good idea to bring along a fresh stool sample so it can be checked for intestinal parasites. Your veterinarians will create an appropriate vaccination and de-worming schedule for your new pet.

Your kitten will need a high quality kitten food; either dry, canned, or a combination. Be sure to follow the instructions given on the food as all brands have varying levels of nutrients per cup of food.

You will also need a litter box or two in easily accessible areas for your kitten. We recommend a minimum of one box per cat per floor. Scoop the litter box daily and clean weekly or as needed to preserve appropriate elimination behavior.

It is important to provide an outlet for your kitten’s natural behavior of scratching. Scatter some scratching posts throughout the house. You should monitor your kitten’s scratching and if you notice that there is a specific texture or orientation (horizontal or vertical) make sure to get scratching posts that mimic their preferences. Also popular with kittens are the large carpeted “cat trees” for both climbing and scratching. Following these recommendations will go a long way in preventing inappropriate scratching on furniture or flooring.

Kittens 3–6 Months

Life Stages - Adult Cats Your kitten will most likely remain playful; therefore, regular play times are important for the growth of your kitten and your bond. Always interact regularly, with love, and avoid rough play as this will discourage inappropriate nipping and/or scratching.

The time has come to schedule your kitten’s spay or neuter surgery with your veterinarian. This is an important surgery that should take place by the time your kitten is 6 months old. The spay/neuter surgery has many medical and social benefits for your pet and is important since over-population is a huge problem in our society. For more information, see the spay and neuter link on our website.

Adults – Cats 1–9 Years

You may feel like you haven’t seen your veterinarian in forever after the frequent trips made while raising your kitten, but the annual exam is just as important! Annual exams and preventative vaccines, tests, and medicine are necessary to keep your cat in the best health possible. Your veterinarian will help you set up an individualized schedule for your adult cat.

Seniors – Cats ~10 years +

Life Stages - Senior Cats Seniority in cats is gradual and varies from cat to cat. Your veterinarian will play a key role in determining when your cat has reached senior status. Your senior cat should be seeing the veterinarian on a biannual basis. Your veterinarian may recommend an annual senior screening, such as blood panels and urine analysis. These test results help your vet determine if your cat has any underlying medical conditions that need treatment. Common diseases or conditions in senior cats include hyperthyroidism, diabetes mellitus, kidney disease, and dental disease. Discuss dietary needs with your veterinarian at this time as well. If you have any concerns or notice a change in your senior cat’s behavior or eating habits alert your veterinary hospital right away.

Consistency and predictability are important for your senior cat. Be aware of your cat’s weight as too much weight outs a lot of strain on joints and can increase disease incidence (i.e. diabetes) and too think can be a sign of a medical condition. Play is important for your senior cat and you should make time each day to engage in a gentle play and petting session.

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