While forming a good relationship with your kitten’s veterinarian is important, getting to know what is normal for your kitten is crucial. Just like a parent with a child, only you will know what is an abnormal behaviour for your kitten. You might even be able to help your veterinarian discover the source of your kitten’s problem.
Keep in mind that a healthy kitten has the following characteristics:
When your kitten is at her healthiest, her eyes will be bright and clear, without signs of irritation or discolouration. A small amount of discharge (tearing or mucous) is normal, and can be wiped gently away with a cotton ball. Use a fresh cotton ball for each eye.
If discharge from your kitten’s eyes is excessive, or if her eyes appear red, yellowed or cloudy, it’s time to visit the veterinarian.
You should check your kitten’s ears weekly for signs of waxy build-up, mites, or odour. Use a cotton ball moistened with water or alcohol to gently clean around her outer ear. Earwax in the ear canal should only be removed by a veterinarian or groomer.
If your kitten’s ears have a build-up of unusual material or emit a strong odour, have her checked by a veterinarian. Your veterinarian can also show you how to remove normal discharge the first time. And remember, her ears are fragile, so clean with care.
Cats have 26 deciduous (a.k.a. temporary, “baby,” or “milk”) teeth, and 30 permanent teeth. Temporary teeth begin to appear when a kitten is about two to four weeks of age, and are lost gradually between 16 and 30 weeks when they are replaced by permanent teeth. During these changes, your kitten may eat less because her gums will be slightly tender.
One of the most common dental problems cats experience is plaque build-up, which can cause a hardened calculus to form on the tooth surface. If left unchecked, this build-up can cause inflammation of the gums and tooth socket. Without the proper treatment, this inflammation can lead to infection and even tooth loss.
Feeding your cat dry food, like Purina® Pro Plan® brand pet food, can help reduce tartar from forming, and provide complete and balanced nutrition as well.
When cleaning your kitten’s teeth, never use toothpaste made for humans. It can cause digestive upsets. Instead, make a paste out of water and baking soda, or have your veterinarian recommend a product. Dip a gauze pad or baby’s toothbrush in the paste and gently wipe the outer surface of your kitten’s teeth.
You should also have your veterinarian conduct regular dental examinations and cleanings.
Pink, healthy gums are a sign of health. Redness or swelling at tooth margins, bad breath, and sores or growths on lips are all signs that there’s something else going on. Consult your veterinarian if this is the case.
A healthy nose is clean and free of discharge or sores.
Coat and Body
Smooth body with a thick, shiny, silky coat is perfect. Feel for lumps, tumours and ticks and check the coat for fleas, greasiness, dandruff or bare patches.
It should be free of swelling or evidence of internal parasites.