From healthy kitten to happy cat
Every new kitten owner wants their cuddly new companion to grow into a healthy, happy cat. So it's important that you play a part in ensuring your kitten stays in good health. For example, correct feeding and completing the first course of vaccinations are essential for her to thrive. But also in that first year, pay regular visits to your vet for check-ups. That way, you can rest assured that your kitten is growing and developing to her full potential.
Maintaining a purrfect coat and healthy skin
The right diet, regular grooming and clean, comfortable living conditions should keep your kitten's coat and skin healthy. But unfortunately, kittens (just like adult cats) can suffer from skin conditions. Their hair can become dull, and may fall out, or their skin can become red, itchy and sore. The causes of these conditions vary, from sensitivity to a particular food, insect bites, allergies, mites, parasites, or even over-grooming.
Some kittens develop an allergy to flea saliva; this is known as "flea-bite hypersensitivity" or flea allergy. If your kitten has this condition, she'll come out in itchy, crusty spots on her skin. And a single flea bite can cause a condition known as "miliary dermatitis" with the same unpleasant symptoms. If you notice any of these signs in your kitten, contact your vet right away and you'll be prescribed something to relieve the irritation and most importantly something to get rid of the fleas.
No, Ringworm isn't a parasite; it's the name given to a fungal condition that brings a kitten's skin out in a circular rash. Ringworm can be passed from cat to cat but also from cat to human. It's not easy to spot, so if you only have a suspicion that your kitten has a coat or skin problem, it's best to get in touch with your vet.
Your kitten's ears
Regular, gentle handling of your kitten, and especially her ears, will enable you to check them for problems without alarming her. And if your kitten does have a problem, you'll soon know about it. Firstly, her ear will be lowered, and she'll be likely to shake her head quite a lot, too. Also, if you happen to notice any grey or dark brown dry or waxy deposits, they're a sure sign of mites. Happily, they can be easily treated by your vet.
Your kitten's eyes
As you'd expect, your kitten's eyes should be clear and bright, with no discharge. Any stickiness in her eyes could be the result of an infection. Bathe the discharge from your kitten's eyes regularly, using a solution of warm water and salt (about a teaspoon to a pint is a good guide). Because the infection could have many causes it's best to take your kitten to the vet.
Sneezing can also be a sign of upper respiratory disease, often called 'cat flu', so if you notice anything more than the occasional sneeze, a visit to the vet is advised.
But it's also worth remembering that sneezing could be the result of pollen inhalation, a blade of grass or grass seed, dust, household sprays or cigarette smoke.