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A good healthcare routine for your kitten starts at home. Just as in humans, prevention is much better than cure. As the person who knows your kitten, best of all, nobody could be better qualified than you to become the 'eyes' and 'ears' of your vet.
It's important you get your kitten used to being regularly handled and checked over by you. This makes life a lot easier for everyone. Here are some things to look out for:
You don't want your kitten piling on the pounds. But being underweight isn't good either and can be a sign of illness. Your vet should keep a record of your kitten's weight and growth. You can also ask your vet for the best way to track your kitten's growth yourself to ensure that they are on track to grow up happy and healthy.
If you're at all worried about your kitten's weight, book an appointment with your vet.
Your kitten's coat should gleam with health. Check for flakes, scales or cuts. Are there any fleas or flea dirt in evidence? Is her coat dull or matted - this could indicate a nutrient deficiency or disease. Talk to your vet if you're worried.
Look closely at your kitten's eyes. Is there any discharge? Are the whites free of any redness? Gently pull down the lower eyelid - this area should be pink.
Now have a look at their ears. These should be clean, pink, free of dirt and free of any strong odour. Check for wax, especially dark wax, which may be a sign of ear mites or infection.
Any worries you have about your kitten's eyes or ears should be discussed with your vet.
Gently open your kitten's mouth. Do the gums look pink and healthy? Are teeth free of tartar build-up (which looks yellow or brown in colour)? You shouldn't usually find any tartar deposits on kittens' teeth. Does their breath smell ok?
Dental problems in cats are very common. You can help by getting into the habit of cleaning your kitten's teeth three times a week. Meat and fish flavoured cat toothpaste can be bought from most vets and pet food shops. A small soft children's toothbrush is fine, just make sure you keep it completely separate from the rest of the family's brushes. Alternatively, you can buy special cat toothbrushes from your vet.
Once your kitten is an adult, your vet may recommend feeding Science Plan Adult Oral Care cat food. This has been shown to significantly reduce the buildup of plaque, tartar and stains.
Inspect your kitten's claws and footpads. Are they free of cuts and cracks? Do nails need a trim?
Know what's normal for your kitten
Perhaps the most important part of any home health check is simply learning what's 'normal' for your kitten. Are there any unusual lumps or bumps? If there's anything that worries you, call your vet straight away.