When I brought Willow (our cat) home I did it despite the fact that I really didn’t want a kitten/cat in my house, but we had a mouse issue and the traps weren’t seeming to take care of them all so she was brought in to dispose of the little beasts. Well she has yet to ever bring one that she has caught to my feet, but I haven’t seen any mice run across the kitchen floor late at night anymore so she must be doing something. Anyway for months I have said “no more cats” because everyone thinks they are so funny and say we need another one so Willow has a friend. She has a friend, her name is Eva and she’s a 10 year old Pitbull and they torment each other constantly Willow doesn’t need another friend. Apparently God had different plans for our animal children and us. Friday night I had a friend that came over and when she was leaving it was about 9:30 at night and we hear this tiny meow….oh no, no, no, no! We don’t need another cat. I told it to go away. I didn’t hear anything from it on Saturday or Sunday morning so I thought “good it went to the barn North of us.” As I was sitting at the table filling out some paper work Sunday and my husband looked out the kitchen window and I hear “there’s a kitten in our driveway.” What?! I look out the window and low and behold there sits this greyish black tabby kitten eating the goldfish our daughter dumped out of the truck. Craaap. Being an animal lover AND a Vet Tech I had to go and see how tame it was. So I threw on a coat (so if I did catch him and he was extremely wild he wouldn’t rip my arms to shreds) put some shoes on and wandered out to the driveway. Once it saw me it bolted up the driveway to hide under my car then ran to the garage. Oh good now I get to try and fish him out from under a million different hiding places. I finally get him in a spot that he can’t move very far. Then the cat whisper(my husband) comes out and the kitten smells him and lets him pet him. And so began the bond of my husband and this little turd. Then my son and daughter got to meet him once we fed him and our daughter named him Ratchet.
Being the animal lover that I am I couldn’t throw the little dude out, he can’t be older than maybe 4 weeks. It’s getting cold here and I have a feeling it’s going to be a pretty fierce winter so the animal lover that I’m married to and I decided that he could become the shop kitten and keep the mice out of the garages. Since we have a new little 4 legged child this is the perfect opportunity to write about the basics for others out there that may have a kitten wander into their yard or they bring one home.
First with our little guy I noticed his belly, he looks like he has a small baseball hanging out in there and from what I can feel his tummy isn’t really hard but it is full. So first things first, deworm! Call a local vet and get your new little one in the system and ask for a wellness/new kitten check and they will go over the basics for a kitten. They should go over the vaccination schedule, most clinics follow the same protocol of 6-8 weeks for the first distemper shot, then 8-10 weeks for the second one (if you had the first one at 8 weeks they will need to go in at 12 weeks for the 2nd booster then 16 weeks to be set for the year.) Then the 3rd booster should be around 12-16 weeks. Giving a kitten, even a puppy a distemper shot at age 4 weeks is usually frowned upon and pointless because they still have antibodies in their systems from their moms milk. By 6 weeks the colostrum that they received from mom after birth and the first few days of life will be in their system long enough to keep them protected against some viruses that they may come in contact with. Or you can go to your vet and let them know that you have a new kitten at home that you would like to deworm and most clinics are ok and willing to give you a syringe of dewormer, which is another schedule of every 4 weeks with vaccines, they should have been dewormed at least twice by their last distemper shot sometimes 3 times depending on how bad the worms are. Since our little dude is too young for his first round of shots I have picked up 1.5cc of a dewormer. Since he’s so small he will only receive about 0.2cc the 1st time and then depending on how big he is in 4 weeks I will give him another dose at a higher amount. If you pick the dewormer up from a veterinarian they should give you instructions on how much to give the first and second time if you will be doing your deworming at home. Make sure if you have other animals that are going to be exposed to your new kitten make sure that they also get wormed while the little one is. That little one could pump out a lot of worms and worm eggs in their poop and yes its gross but some animals will eat another animals poop. So just to be safe deworm the entire crew. I’m not too worried about our other two critters because Eva gets dewormed every time she takes a Heart Gard and Willow is going in to the vet soon to get boosters so we will worm her then, plus she’s not outside at all so she won’t come in contact with it. They do also have a topical dewormer that you can use on kittens that can also help with fleas.
Next I noticed how into having his ears itched he was, I rubbed them yesterday and he went belly up and wouldn’t move. So I scruffed him, so he wouldn’t scratch me to get away, and looked in his ears all I could say was “I wish I had a microscope so I could see all the lovely little mites that have made his ear their home”…..they won’t be there long.
I’m kind of weird, well some might agree with how awesome it is to look at ear mites under a microscope, being a vet tech that was one of my favorite things to look at. They never get old to look at they are always so fun to watch crawl around on your slide. ANYWAY, I called the vet and had them also send me some ear mite ointment. Not all kittens/cats will go completely limp when you scratch mite infested ears, most of them will move their back legs like they are going to scratch their ears. The one really good way to know if it is ear mites or a yeast infection if you don’t have a microscope is look at the material that is in their ear. I know what I’m looking for when it comes to ear mites so all I had to do was look at his behavior and the material inside his ear and I knew. But a good way for those who don’t know what they are looking for is if you take a Q-tip and just run it on the outer part inside the ear(don’t go into the ear canal just what you can see) and look at what comes out. If it is dark or black and looks like coffee grounds they have ear mites. The coffee ground look is from the mites sucking on the blood in the animals ear and pooping it out. But to get a definite answer it’s best to take them to your vet and have them check. That’s the only way you’ll get the RIGHT meds to treat ear mites. The reason I say right ear meds is because a lot of people will try and do home remedies that either don’t work or can make your pet sick. Like there are people who will use tea tree oil to try and treat ear mites, tea tree oil can be very toxic to animals. Keep your eyes open for a blog on the use of tea tree oil on animals in the near future 😉 The other thing with ears is some people can think that their cat has ear mites, but it could in fact be a yeast infection. When I brought Willow home I thought she had mites, when I did a slide I didn’t see any mites at all. So I stained the slide and found that she did have a yeast infection, if I would have smelled her ears I would have known that it was yeast instead of mites. (A side note with ear mites and dogs, most dogs that have itching ears and have a dark material in their ear is a yeast infection. It is rare that dogs get ear mites, they can still get them BUT it’s not often. Stay tuned to learn about allergies in dogs and cats, which a sign of ear issues can be one and we will get into the allergy discussion a little further)
Pictures of ear mites and eggs under a microscope and a cats ear with ear mites.
Next is his nutrition. He is still pretty little and needs to get some nutrients through milk. Since our little guy is still pretty young I fed him some wet cat food and gave him some whole milk, which he drank two small bowls of yesterday, but the best milk for them is a milk replacer which you can pick up at your local vet or you can pick it up at Petco or Petsmart. We will keep him on wet food for about another week along with milk replacer and then switch him over to kibble and water. The milk replacer is just for kittens that are newborn to 6 weeks. You can go past 6 weeks if need be, but if you do I would put some of the milk in a bowl mixed with some kibble so they get used to the kibble. You want to make sure with kittens to get them a kitten food, the kibble is smaller making it easier for them to chew. If you get wet food for kittens you need to make sure it says kitten formula on the cans. The reason you want to put kittens on a kitten food is because it is made with all the essential nutrients they need so they can grow properly and not lack in any nutrients they may need as kittens.
Next is housing. Our little dude is going to be living in our 5 stall garage, which is a mix of dirt and cement. Since its getting cold my son and I found a small box and grabbed some old baby blankets that aren’t being used and placed them in the box for him. We will also be adding some straw and a burlap bag of corn. Straw is a great heat conductor, there is an actual house in Colorado that it’s foundation isn’t 2×4’s it’s straw bales and the house supposedly stays very warm. I can vouch for straw keeping you warm from experience. A friend of mine and I actually fell asleep on some straw bales one night in the fall when I was younger and I stayed warm all night despite the fact that it got to 40 degrees that night. I’ve also seen a lot of farmers place straw in their dog houses and the cats will always sleep in the straw or hay in the winters. So putting some straw in to a little cat house for outside kitties is really nice for them. The burlap bag of corn is also a great heat conductor. Corn is a grain that has a lot of energy in it and if not shuffled around it can in fact start on fire. I didn’t know this until my husband had worked for the corn elevator in town and told me that the elevator didn’t move one of the bins of corn for a while and it actually started on fire by itself. So, conclusion of corn it can put off a decent amount of energy which can make a cold winter ND night for a kitten a little bit warmer.
Lastly – love. Every animal that you decide to bring home or let into your home deserves love and attention. This little guy gets A LOT and he’s only been here for a day now. You walk out the door and he’s right there meowing at you, walking through your legs, rubbing up on you and he follows you everywhere. He isn’t a fan of Eva right now, but Eva is totally into him because OMG IT’S A NEW BABY! Willow isn’t a fan of Ratchet, she hissed at him when I let her sniff him. But Willow isn’t allowed outside and he isn’t coming inside so we won’t have to worry about that, he will just have to get used to Eva. Which anyone who brings a new baby into their home needs to introduce the pets that are already there slowly. Give everyone time to get used to each other then let them get used to the fact that they will be sharing the same spaces. By slowly I mean when I introduced Eva to Ratchet and even Willow they were scruffed and Eva sniffed them while my husband held on to her. Then I put the kitten down and Eva approached it slowly and they both hissed when she did that. Obviously as Willow got older and bigger she got used to Eva and wasn’t so intimidated by her. If you are bringing a kitten home to a house that has a dog in it and you don’t know how that dog is going to react it is best if someone holds the dog and someone holds the cat. That way if anyone starts to get mouthy you can seperate the two safely. He will not be shorted on love though that is for sure. If you have a shop cat or garage cat make sure you have all antifreeze up and any other vehicle liquids or pesticides that may be lying around are up and cleaned up if spilled so that the kitty doesn’t think that it’s a tasty treat and consumes something that could make many systems within them shut down and possibly kill them.
Good luck with your new little ones and remember if you’re ever in doubt CALL your vet and ask. That’s what they are there for to guide you in the right direction to having a happy and healthy pet!
(Pictures from Petplace.com, Wikipedia, rozziemay.org, petmeds.com, 1001blocks.com, zaptista.com, oldandinteresting.com, petmountain.com, petco.com, )