When should I ask my veterinarian to have my first kitten appointment?

The answer is six weeks or as soon as you get your kitten. Vaccinations generally start at six weeks. We want to examine your pet and make sure that your kitten is completely healthy, and we'll start the vaccinations at that time.

Dr. Becka Byrd
Northern Oaks Bird & Animal Hospital

And how often should you come?

It's going to be every three to four weeks after you obtain your kitten until they are 16 weeks old. At 16 weeks old, we consider them mature enough to hold their vaccination status for a year. And at that time, we'll see them again, examine them, and then we will start to decide what vaccines they will keep based on lifestyle.

Is it important to still come to the vet if my cat is completely indoors?

The resounding answer to that is yes. Cats are masters of hiding disease. You would be surprised if you knew how many cats we diagnose with cardiac disease, severe dental disease, kidney disease, and other problems because people assumed they didn't need to go to the vet because they're indoors. Not all diseases are contagious. Some of these are just diseases of metabolism that we need to address and make sure that we can find and treat. So, annual exams are important just like they are for humans, and annual blood work is important just like it is for humans. We want to make sure we're keeping your cat as healthy as possible.

Does my cat need vaccinations even if I keep them inside?

Well, if you're in Texas, the answer is yes, because the state law requires a current vaccination for rabies.

What kind of preventative care does your kitten need?

There are some diseases that are contagious even from us touching other cats and coming inside if our cat is completely indoors. So we worry about things that can be spread that way. In preventative care, we want to look at always having them on heartworm and flea prevention because heartworms are not treatable in cats, and mosquitoes can come in through your house. If your cat gets heartworms, all we can do is keep them on supportive care. So, preventative care is extremely important.

When should you get your kitten spayed or neutered?

Our standard is 16 weeks. At 16 weeks, they'll be big enough, they're old enough, and they never have to go through any of the behaviors that we don't want to see in kitties, and we don't risk them overpopulating, which we have a tremendous amount of in Texas.

If you have any other questions, please give us a call at (210) 496-1315. You can also email us at [email protected] and we will get back to you as soon as we are able. Don't forget to follow us on social media: Facebook and Instagram

Kitten Care - FAQs 1

Dr. Becka Byrd
Northern Oaks Bird & Animal Hospital

What's the most important thing to know about raising a healthy kitten?

It all starts with diet. Let's look at healthy diets and make sure that we're keeping this baby indoors away from traffic, big dogs, predators, and poisons. Keeping your kitten indoors ensures they live longer. Additionally, make sure your kitten gets to the veterinarian so we can examine and see some of the things on the inside that you might not be able to tell from the outside.

What are the right and wrong ways to pick up your kitten?

Pick your kitten up gently, support by the chest, and then put a hand under the rump so that your kitten feels supported. If your kitten struggles, put her down, let her have a moment, and then try again. Don't restrain her to where she fights you to get down, and don't pick her up by the scruff. Scruffing is not something we want to do. There's a myth that this is okay because it's what their mommy does to them, but it's not enjoyable or comforting for them. We want to cuddle our cats and make them feel spoiled and loved.

How can you tell if your kitten's healthy and happy?

If they play, enjoy toys, eat, and then come over to cuddle and purr, that's a happy kitten. A happy, healthy kitten enjoys their time, sleeps, gets up, eats, plays, is engaged, and has bright eyes.

What should you feed your kitten?

Feeding your kitten is really important. We now know that kitties that eat canned food have kidneys that last longer. Feeding a good, high-quality canned food is healthier for them. Our preference is one of the top three brands: ProPlan, Hill's Science Diet, or Royal Canin, as these brands perform feeding trials to demonstrate they meet the needs of your kitty for its life. There are many other brands out there, but they don't have the scientific backing to say they are healthy for your cat.

What products might you need for your kitten?

You'll need little nail trimmers and a hairbrush, and start using these young so your kitten gets used to them. Additionally, get a lot of little toys, but avoid things with loose strings, hair ties, or items that can cause foreign bodies, leading to surgery. Approved toys like little fur mice and roly balls are great. Boxes are also a safe, free option that cats love.

When should you bring your kitten to see a veterinarian?

As soon as you get it. We want to examine your kitten to check their heart, ensure there's no nasal or eye discharge, and run a leukemia AIDS test to make sure they don’t carry any viruses.

How can you get the most out of your first vet visit with your new kitten?

Do some reading and figure out what questions you have. Come in with your questions prepared so we can answer them. We'll discuss flea and heartworm preventatives and any other concerns, but be ready to ask questions to be an advocate for your pet.

What are some early signs and symptoms of health issues in kittens?

Look for lack of appetite, not gaining weight, constant diarrhea, excessive sleeping, or vomiting. These are concerning signs that require a vet visit. Kitties don't just get colds that go away on their own; we need to ensure there's nothing more serious at play.

Why should you not self-diagnose problems in cats?

Cats are masters of hiding illness. People often don't bring cats to the vet because they seem healthy, but cats hide their sickness by sleeping and being stealthy. If you notice illness, bring them in immediately. Try not to self-diagnose, and don't wait it out. We want to make sure we're getting to the bottom of what's going on.

When should your kitten start vaccinations?

Your kitten should start vaccinations at six weeks and continue every three to four weeks until they're 16 weeks old. At 16 weeks, they'll be old enough to hold their vaccinations and immunity for a full year, and we won't need to see them again for another year.

If you have any other questions, please give us a call at (210) 496-1315. You can also email us at [email protected] and we will get back to you as soon as we are able. Don't forget to follow us on social media: Facebook and Instagram