Taking care of kittens means more than just going to the veterinarian.
Just like with people, kitten care begins at home with careful home-based physical checkups and illness prevention.
The best way to keep kittens healthy is by keeping them clean and safe, but also knowing early signs for when you do need to see the vet!
The following tips will give you a general overview of what you need to look out for when taking care of kittens.
Looking for Fleas
If your kittens go outside, or you have other indoor/outdoor pets that they are exposed to, you want to make sure to check them for fleas and ticks by looking under their fur for flea dirt.
You can use a kitten flea comb made especially for this.
If you brush against the fur growth and reveal what looks like dirt then your kitten is an unfortunate flea victim! And sorry to say, so might be your house.
Talk to your vet about a safe flea removal method for kittens, but do your homework!
Do not use the cheap flea collars you find in the supermarkets or pet stores; Even some major flea repellent brands are known to be dangerous to kittens and cats.
There are some herbal remedies, such as peppermint oil, that some experts agree repel fleas and is considered safe for cats and kittens.
Be careful though of other “natural” cures when taking care of kittens as some herb and plant-based oils and extracts can make kittens sick.
Taking care of kittens can also mean giving them a good kitten bath every once in a while, especially if they are in a dirt-prone environment.
Taking Care of Kittens Ears
If you notice your kitten is shaking her head a lot or scratching her ears often, she could have one of several things going on, all of which would need veterinary attention.
If the ears smell really bad, it could be an infection caused from a foreign body. If she goes outside, there is a possibility that she got a burr or other plant matter stuck in the canal.
If you wipe the inside of the ear and find you find dark, coffee-ground looking discharge, she probably has ear mites.
Note: Do NOT use a cotton swab, only wipe in the ear where you can see, no deeper.
Other explanations can be bacterial or yeast growth, or allergies.
In any case, she is very uncomfortable so should be seen as soon as possible by her vet.
She can even do damage to her own ears from continuous scratching, making the problem even worse by getting an infection.
Taking Care of Kittens Nails
Kitten claws are extra sharp, and can hurt their brothers and sisters when they wrestle.
Kitten and cat nail care doesn’t have to be a struggle–The easiest way to trim them is to wait until they’re sleeping!
You may try waiting until they are sleeping and clip off the tip of each nail with baby nail clippers.
You have to squeeze the toes gently to extract them, and just make sure you don’t clip below the pink part, (or the quick) of the nail.
Hold the clippers sideways and clip the sides of the nail rather than top to bottom. It seems more comfortable for them.
Taking Care of Kittens Eyes
If you notice your kitten has an eye that’s weepy, or she keeps it partially closed, or there is any kind of abnormal discharge, veterinary care is needed right away to rule out a corneal scratch.
A scratch is likely if she has litter mates that wrestle–accidental scratches occur easily, and their little nails (as mentioned above) are very sharp!
If both eyes seem to be affected, she could have an infection and needs medicine. Don’t take chances when it comes to kitten eye care!
Certain breeds of kittens are prone to tear stains, particularly Persians. While this discharge isn’t dangerous, it does leave unsightly stains on her fur, and should be wiped off with an anti-tear stain product regularly.
More Information on Taking Care of Kittens
In addition to inspecting and taking care of fur, ears and eyes, it is also important that you watch out for any abnormal behaviors. Cat depression, though harder to diagnose than a physical ailment, is something to be aware of.
A change in personality could be caused by pain of some sort, and if in connection to a loss of appetite could be caused by a toothache or abscess.
It is thus very important to inspect your kitten’s teeth for problems, and always consult your veterinarian if you are uncertain about any aspect of your kitten’s health care.