What to Expect When Expecting: Your Kitten's First Year
For most, I can say the following statement is true: babies are awesome. Whether it’s a human baby, pup, or kitten the overall sentiment is that they are all adorable. Recently becoming an uncle myself, the feeling is euphoric and truly an honor. However, amidst all the elation and joy an arduous task is now left ahead. You are raising a baby after all. Of course, intimidation and worry will be natural because as any parent will tell you they only want the best for their child. Here at the Larchmont Animal Clinic, we want to offer you a little “peace of mind” when you raise a new kitten by offering insight into their early years. In addition, we will go over vaccine protocols in order for your little one to remain happy and healthy. Truly we are here to help you understand what to expect when expecting.
Birth to 6 weeks
Naturally no two kittens are alike, but just like human babies; most follow some common life stages. Kittens from birth to 6 weeks should be with their mothers and liter mates. It’s often misconstrued that because human babies are taken away from their mothers the same can be done for kittens. That is not the case. While human babies are taken to be monitored and examined, kittens need their moms for nursing (in a way they are being monitored as well). Kittens are born toothless, with their ears and eyes sealed and are obviously not able bodied. By the time they are 6 to 7 weeks old, their baby teeth will have grown and they are able to stand, run, and pounce. Now the time for true exploration has begun.
7 weeks to 3 months
The phrase curiosity killed the cat is used as a reminder to not pry into things that you should not. In this case however, curiosity only helps the cat. Curiosity will lead your cat to play and explore their surroundings. All this curiosity will help them develop their social skills, physical coordination, and strength. Kittens will also begin to entertain themselves by climbing everything possible (we do mean everything), chasing their own tail, and scurrying after shadows and light. You may consider getting a cat tree, which not only ensures your furniture from being scratched, but also keeps your kitten safe from perilous heights. We offer some at our very own Barking Lot pet shop. Also, be aware that amidst all this playing and exploring your kitten will go through a scaredy-cat phase. They will run away because they will get frightened easily. Remember this is only temporary and they’ll hiss at anything to that scares them.
Perhaps the most wonderful actions kittens will do in their early age is snuggle and purr. Remember cats are related to the king of the jungle, they will soon begin to challenge to you. However, enjoy the precious moments of them following you around and sleeping with you, too.
It should also be noted that you will want to talk with your veterinarian about the standard FVRCP vaccine. FVRCP also known as the “feline distemper vaccine” is a vaccine that’s considered one of the most important. Especially since its administered within the first two months of a kitten’s life. This vaccine will protect your little one from feline rhinotracheitis virus a respiratory virus, calicivirus which can cause mouth sores, and panleukopenia which is known to attack white blood cells. This vaccine will be administered at 8 weeks, 12 weeks, and 16 weeks of age annually. Make sure your little one is safe from these harmful diseases.
3 to 6 Months
If you recall from earlier, kittens will begin to challenge you during this time frame. It is completely natural because just like any other animal the inevitable question is: who is in charge? They will challenge other cats and animals too. Kittens also begin to play more aggressively. They’ll play with your feet, toes, hands, and an abundance of toys. Make sure to assert your dominance so that your kitten knows you are are the king in your domain. Kittens will also begin to lose their baby teeth by 3 to 6 months old. As their adult teeth come in they will start teething and begin to chew a lot.
Also, do not be frightened if they do not eat as much or as quickly as they use to. Food can irritate their gums so just give them some time. Of course, amidst all these exciting new changes your kitten will still sleep a lot (at least 18 hours a day). Sleep is very important after all and essential for anybody to live a good healthy life. At 12 weeeks of age the FeLV vaccine should be given with the second FVRCP. FeLV, or simply put feline leukemia, is one of the leading causes of deaths for cats. This vaccine is very essential and will be administered 12 weeks and 16 weeks annually. Again, we only want what is best for our precious kittens.
6 to 12 months
During these months, kittens will continue to explore and pounce around but with more meat on their bones. Tables, sofas, and chairs which were once out of reach for your kitten, will definitely not be now. At this point of time you can also consider you kitten a teenager and like most teenagers’ hormones are going to be a problem. Both males and females will become sexually active as early as 6 months. This is a good time to spay or neuter you rambunctious. Besides, you definitely don’t want any baby mama drama with your cat.
Once cats sort through their hormones they are officially becoming more independent and may wiggle out of any affection you try to give them (just like a teenager). If they were attentively following you around or greeting you at the door, they will most likely be asleep. Now your kitten should be looking like a cat.
They are taller, longer, and their adult fur has taken over. Even at one year of age you should still expect your cat to behave like a teen. However, some things they will never lose as they will continue to sleep, play, and purr with their beloved human. Also, if your cat is an outdoor type definitely ask your vet about the rabies vaccine. It will be administered at 16 weeks, then 1 year later. After that rabies vaccines are given every 3 years after.
If you need a Los Angeles veterinarian to take proper care of your kitten's during it's first year, call us today to schedule an appointment!
We hope you have many healthy and happy years together!