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KITTENS! KITTENS! KITTENS!

Spring is the most common time of year for kittens to be born. Many young kittens are now available for adoption and caring homes are needed for them. Anyone interested in adopting kittens should contact the
Animal Care Center of St. John or Cruz Bay Canines, Cats, & Critters fordetails.
Adopting a kitten requires a commitment of care much greater than just picking out a cute cuddly animal. This article will outline
what home care your new kitten will require for health and happiness.
Most kittens are ready to be adopted at 6-8 weeks of age. At this age they should be kept indoors as the perils of the outdoors are great for a 1-2 pound animal. Indoor cats do require a litter box, but the good
news is they require no training to learn to use the box for urination and defecation. The litter box should be placed in an easily accessible but low traffic area of the house.
A good quality dry kitten food should ideally be available at all times. If this is not possible, kitten food should be offered (as much as they want to eat) at least three times daily. While the kitten is less than six months, they are so busy growing and playing that it is virtually
impossible for them to eat too much. Fresh water should be available at all times and should be changed daily. Kittens this age no longer require milk as their nutritional needs will be met by the kitten food.
Fleas and ticks are common external parasites of kittens. Fleas suck blood for their meals and a flea infestation can easily cause anemia in a small kitten. The flea product chosen MUST be labeled as safe for cats. Many dog flea products are toxic to cats, and most cat flea products have a minimum age of the kitten that is safe to treat. When in doubt, human baby shampoo is safe to use on kittens until a safe product
can be obtained.
A sick kitten may show any of the following signs: rough, patchy haircoat, runny eyes and/or nose, sneezing, vomiting, diarrhea, or lack of appetite. A kitten with any of these symptoms should be brought to a
veterinarian for treatment.
Healthy kittens should also visit the
veterinarian for a health check, vaccinations, and a test for intestinal
parasites.
Next week's article will cover what veterinary care is recommended for the health of your new kitten.
Editor's note: Dr. Laura Palminteri practices veterinary medicine at Cruz Bay Canines, Cats & Critters on St. John. A 1991 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, she practiced small animal and equine medicine in New York before opening her practice on St. John.

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