Kittens are adorable, cuddly, and oftentimes pretty reckless. Here are some tips and information you should know BEFORE you bring that fuzzy kitten back home.

All kittens need vaccines. Similarly to puppies, there are typically four rounds of shots spaced out about 3-4 weeks at a time. The first two rounds consist of the FVRCP (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia) vaccine, essential to preventing deadly diseases in your kitten. For their third round, we do another FVRCP, and at this time you have the option to test for Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). Both of these diseases are contagious, and common amongst kittens, particularly if you’ve picked up a stray. We take a small blood sample to ensure a negative result, and then are able to administer a vaccine for FeLV. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for FIV. Finally, at their fourth visit, they will get a final FVRCP, a second FeLV vaccine, and their rabies vaccine.

The amount of litter boxes and litter box placement is key to your kitten’s success. It’s important to have multiple boxes in your home, even if you have just one cat. If you have one cat, a litter box at each level of your house will help your cat maintain good litter box habits. If you have multiple cats in the house, a good rule of thumb is two litter boxes per cat. So, if you have three cats you need at least SIX litter boxes! It might seem like a lot, but frequently inappropriate urination and defecation are caused by litter box stress. For this reason, it’s important to keep litter clean and fresh.

Flea and Tick prevention are also important to your little one’s success. EVEN if your cat does not go outside, EVEN if you don’t have a dog that can bring them inside, it is important to keep your cat on monthly prevention. Humans can easily track fleas into our homes, but fleas don’t prosper with human hosts. Your kitten is the perfect specimen for these pesky critters to infest. It is much easier to prevent a flea infestation than to get rid of one.

Some cats love the outdoors. Others don’t. If your cat has a habit of trying to run out the door, supervised outside playtime might be beneficial for them. Taking them outside on a harness and leash is a great way to let them get their outside time while maintaining their safety. It can take a while to train a cat on a harness, but they are capable! Letting your cat run in and out of the house unsupervised isn’t recommended for many reasons: injuries including fighting with other animals, human abuse, cars, etc, unknown ingestion of food/material, bugs/parasite infestations

Declawing your cat has been illegal in St. Louis City and St. Louis County since 2021. Rock Road Animal Hospital will not perform these procedures. Alternatively, getting your cat’s nails trimmed regularly can help a great deal with scratching issues.

Kittens need stimulation. Make sure you have plenty of things for your cat to climb on, jump off, scratch, and bat around. Having a kitten proof house can protect your furniture and walls as well!

Depending on the length of your cat or kitten’s hair, they may need to be regularly groomed. Domestic Medium and Long Haired cats require frequent brushing to prevent matting. Matting is when the fur on their coat becomes tangled and unmanagable, creating chunks of fur called “matts.” If matting persists, and goes untreated, the fur can become tangled so close to the skin it begins to leave rashes and sometimes wounds. Keep your cat healthy by brushing them regularly, and if needed, take them to a groomer for a brush and a trim.

If you are bringing a kitten home, it is important to know that you almost never need to feed the kitten milk. By 6 weeks old, the kitten has started to wean from its mother. It can be introduced to kitten food at this time. Feeding a cat milk, particularly cow’s milk, can cause diarrhea and upset stomach.