Kittens take their first wobbly steps around three weeks old, just one week after they first start to see and hear. At about six weeks they’re likely to have been weaned from their mum’s milk and the immunity gained from the milk’s maternal antibodies wears off.
Having your cat health care plan in place even before this point will allow for a well coordinated handover from mummy immunity to great cat healthcare.
In this article, we look at your cat’s key health care milestones and the scheduling of them. From vaccinations and worming, to desexing and more, it’s here. Read on to help nurture a healthy, happy and adorable kitten that grows into a well balanced cat.
Prepping cat health care plans
Kittens are ready to leave their first homes to join their furever homes from about 12 weeks old. However, some people do adopt earlier than this and several cat health care milestones should happen beforehand.
Here’s an overarching timeline estimate – emphasis on estimate – for your health care planning. Your vet will have their own schedule according to your cat’s breed and health, but it will roughly look like this.
Cat health care milestones:
|8 weeks||Flea control||Routine|
|24 weeks||Dental hygiene||Routine|
Now for the scheduling and some inside info on why these cat health care events are such important milestones.
2 weeks: Worming for wellbeing
It’s super important to follow your vet’s worming instructions because worms can make your little mate really sick. Depending on your cat’s age and lifestyle and the type of worming medicine, the dosage and scheduling will vary.
The most common of these absolutely gross critters to infect Kiwi cats are tapeworms and roundworms. These guys set up camp in your cat’s intestines, where they feed and lay eggs. There’s really only one way to combat them: worming meds.
Remember, the below is a rough guideline which your vet may schedule. Always go with the precise quantity and regularity your vet recommends:
|2-12 weeks||Approximately every two weeks (usually a half dose)|
|12-24 weeks||Approximately every month|
|24 weeks +||Approximately every three months|
Oh, and if these creepy crawlies weren’t already a big negative, they can infect humans too. Plus, flea larvae feed on tapeworm eggs. That brings us to your cat’s flea treatment. But first, your kitten’s vaccination schedule…
6 weeks: Kitten vaccinations in NZ begin
At six weeks old a kitten is already starting to socialise, and they’ll need their first round of jabs to keep them protected. The immunity they had in the womb and from suckling from their mum now completely ceases and desists.
They’re exposed to the big wide world and an onslaught of airborne and transmissible illnesses. To combat this your cat health care plan includes a core vaccination, and in some instances a non-core vaccination, schedule. This may vary from vet to vet. And from cat to cat.
For instance, an abandoned and rescued kitten may need more closely separated doses than a cat from a breeder.
Your kitten’s core vaccination schedule typically follows this approximate schedule:
|6-16 weeks||Every two to four weeks||FPV, FHV-1, FCV|
|6-12 months||Optional follow up booster||FPV, FHV-1, FCV|
|every 1-3 years||Annual booster||FPV, FHV-1, FCV|
Core vaccinations safeguard your cat against the following illnesses:
- Feline panleukopenia virus (FPV). FPV is a contagious viral disease that can cause a range of symptoms from lethargy and loss of appetite to vomiting and death. FPV can affect cats of any age, but symptoms are often most severe in kittens.
- Feline herpesvirus (FHV-1). Also called feline viral rhinotracheitis, this is one of the biggest causes of upper-respiratory-tract infections in cats.
- Feline calicivirus (FCV). FCV is a contagious virus that can cause a range of illnesses from upper-respiratory-infections to oral disease.
Non-core vaccines may be very necessary to your cat health care plan. Your vet will assess what non-core vaccines your kitten needs, if any. These may include feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV, which can cause feline AIDS), feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) and feline chlamydiosis.
If you adopt a cat that’s older, your vet may augment their vaccine schedule further, depending on their history and past kennelling environment, to ensure immunity is kept up-to-date.
This next bit on fleas is so gross, we need to watch this cute kitten video to steel our nerves:
8 weeks: Flea control to save kitty’s skin
Fleas are parasites that literally lounge under the protective concealment of your cat’s fur, while chomping down on them. Fleas often cause itchy and scratchy cat and dog skin conditions. In severe cases, a flea infestation can even lead to obsessives compulsive disorder in dogs.
In short, these guys are a perpetual bane in the life of our fairer furry kind. Not to mention, us and vets too.
They’re nasty little critters that leave eggs, larvae and pupae on your cat and in and around your home. As if bloodsucking wasn’t insulting enough, they also do their toileting duties on your pet. To make things worse, the larvae eat these fecal droppings then spin cocoons in which to pupate. ARRRRGGGHHH!
Typically, controlling flea breakouts if most effective with a regular cat health care program that targets all stages of the flea lifecycle. Speak to your vet about a safe and effective product to use. Fleas infestation will likely peak in the hot months, but that’s not to say they won’t have a field day all year round, given the comfort of indoor living.
Depending on vet recommendations, your kitten can begin flea treatment from eight weeks old. And because management is better than trying to get rid of a flea colony in full bloom, treatment can be done as often as every three months.
|8-12 weeks||First treatment between eight and 12 weeks|
|every 3 months||Ongoing treatments every three months|
12 weeks: Microchipping to reduce risk
While there’s no prescribed age to get your cat microchipped, your vet may be able to microchip kittens from 12 weeks of age onward. Microchipped cats are 20 times more likely to be returned home if they land up in a shelter than those without.
Cat microchips keep all your ownership data on a central network that you register the chip with. The chip is easy and painless to place and can then be scanned to see the data. Read how cat microchips work, and more on why they’re an good cat health care choice.
16 weeks: Desexing for so many reasons
Our current Kiwi cat population can easily produce an additional 15 million new kittens a year if they’re not desexed! Within six months, those kittens will be able to produce litters of their own, resulting in a population boom.
However, indiscriminate breeding and overpopulation aren’t the only reasons to desex your cat. Read ‘spay and neuter your cat‘ to find out potential health benefits and drawbacks this procedure can have.
|4-5 months||Once-only procedure|
Four months is typically the earliest age vet recommended age to desex your pet kitten. In shelters, However, kittens in shelters may be desexed as young as eight weeks to curb overpopulation.
Of course, desexing cats is advisable rather than mandatory. Or you may decide to do it later in your cat’s life if you’re planning to breed them. Provided you know you can provide suitable cat health care to one or more litters of little furballs and can rehome them when the time comes, it’s entirely up to you.
If you do decide to breed, be sure to give your mum cat ample nutrition while she’s pregnant and lactating. This will prevent deficiencies and give the kittens the best chance at a healthy life too.
24 weeks: Dental hygiene commences
The best time to start brushing cat teeth is when all the milk teeth have been replaced by adult teeth, at around six months. This also gives you a chance to keep a close eye on your feline’s general oral health and keep conditions like gum disease at bay. This process should be fortified by a once annual vet check up, to get a professional perspective.
Read about cat teeth to find out how to brush them, protect them, and what disasters you’ll be avoiding by doing so.
Cat insurance for optimum cat health care
Top quality cat health care is easy to provide when you have cat insurance.
Starting your pet’s plan when they’re small is even easier – in fact it’s free! With us, you get up to 8 weeks free kitten insurance and puppy insurance when your pet is between 6 and 30 weeks old. Plus there are no payable excesses and no lock-in contracts. When you make a valid claim, we’ll safeguard your furkid for up to $1,000.
Have an older cat? If you buy your member policy online we’ll give you one month free.
Optimum cat health care for your feline friend couldn’t be easier, and you’ll very likely be taking out insurance before any pre-existing conditions emerge (which insurers don’t cover). Purrrrrfect!