What type of play behavior should I expect from a healthy puppy/kitten?
It is very important that you provide stimulating play for your puppy/kitten, especially during the first week in its new home. Stalking and pouncing are important play behaviors in puppies and are necessary for proper muscular development. Your puppy/kitten will be less likely to use family members for these activities if you provide adequate puppy-safe toys. The best toys are lightweight and movable. These include wads of paper and rubber balls. Kittens should always be supervised when playing with string or ribbons because these items can cause serious intestinal problems if they are swallowed. Any other toy that is small enough to be swallowed should also be avoided. We can help you choose the safest toys for your pet loved one.
How should I introduce my new kitten to my other cat?
Most kittens receive a hostile reception from other household pets, especially from another cat. The other cat usually sees no need for a kitten in the household and these feelings are reinforced if it perceives that special favoritism is being shown to the kitten. The existing cat must not feel that it is necessary to compete for food or attention. The new kitten should have its own food bowl and it should not be permitted to eat from the other cat’s bowl. Although it is natural to spend time holding and cuddling the kitten, the existing cat will quickly sense that it is being neglected. The new kitten needs lots of love and attention, but the existing cat should not be slighted. In fact, the transition will be smoother if the existing cat is given more attention than normal.
When should my kitten/puppy be vaccinated?
There are many diseases that are fatal to cats and dogs. Fortunately, we have the ability to prevent many of these by the use of vaccines. In order to be effective, these vaccines must be given as a series of injections. Ideally, they are given at about 6-8, 12, and 16 weeks of age, but this schedule may vary somewhat depending on several factors.
The routine vaccination schedule will protect your kitten from five diseases: feline distemper, three respiratory organisms, and rabies. The first four are included in a combination vaccine that is given at 6-8, 12, and 16 weeks old. The core vaccination schedule will protect your puppy from several common diseases: distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza virus, parvovirus, and rabies. Rabies vaccine is usually given at 12-16 weeks of age. In addition, Feline leukemia vaccine (FeLV) is strongly recommended if your cat does or will go outside or if you have another cat that goes in and out. Many veterinarians will advise its use in all cats since this disease is deadly. It is usually transmitted by direct contact with other cats, especially when fighting occurs.
A vaccine is also available for protection against feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), an uncommon disease that is most likely to occur in groups of cats. There are two other optional vaccinations that are appropriate in certain situations. Your puppy should receive a kennel cough vaccine if a trip to a boarding kennel or groomer is likely or if it will be placed in a puppy training class. Lyme vaccine is given to dogs that are likely to be exposed to ticks because Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks. Your veterinarian will discuss the available vaccinations and what is best for your cat based on lifestyle needs.
Do all puppies/kittens have worms?
Intestinal parasites are very common in puppies/kittens. Puppies/kittens can become infected with parasites before they are born or later through their mother's milk. The microscopic examination of a stool sample will usually help us to determine the presence of intestinal parasites. We recommend this exam for all puppies/kittens. Even if we do not get a stool sample, we recommend the use of a deworming product that is safe and effective against several of the common worms of the dog/cat. We do this because our deworming medication has no side-effects and because your puppy/kitten does not pass worm eggs every day so the stool sample may not detect worms that are present. Additionally, some of these internal parasites can be transmitted to humans. Deworming is done now and repeated in about three weeks. It is important that it be repeated because the deworming medication only kills the adult worms. Within three to four weeks, the larval stages will become adults and need to be treated. Dogs/cats remain susceptible to re-infection with hookworms and roundworms. Periodic deworming throughout the dog's/cat's life may be recommended for outdoor dogs/cats.
How do I insure that my puppy/kitten is well socialized?
The prime socialization period for cats/dogs occurs between two and twelve weeks of age. During that time, the kitten/puppy is very impressionable to social influences. If it has good experiences with men, women, children, dogs, other cats, etc., it is likely to accept them throughout life. If the experiences are absent or unpleasant, it may become apprehensive or adverse to any of them. Therefore, during the period of socialization, we encourage you to expose your cat/dog to as many types of social situations and influences as possible.
My puppy seems to be constantly chewing. Why does this occur?
Chewing is a normal puppy behavior. Almost all of a puppy’s 28 baby teeth are present by about four weeks of age. They begin to fall out at four months of age and are replaced by the 42 adult (permanent) teeth by about six months of age. Therefore, chewing is a puppy characteristic that you can expect until about six to seven months of age. It is important that you do what you can to direct your puppy’s chewing toward acceptable objects. You should provide puppy-safe items such as nylon chew bones and other chew toys so other objects are spared.
Can I trim my puppy's/kitten's sharp toe nails?
Puppies/kittens have very sharp toe nails. They can be trimmed with your regular finger nail clippers or with nail trimmers made for dogs and cats. If you take too much off the nail, you will cut into the “quick” and bleeding and pain will occur. If this happens, neither you nor your dog will want to do this again. Therefore, a few points are helpful:
If your dog has clear or white nails, you can see the pink of the quick through the nail. Avoid the pink area, and you should be out of the quick.
If your dog has black nails, you will not be able to see the quick so only cut 1/32" (1 mm) of the nail at a time until the dog begins to get sensitive. The sensitivity will usually occur before you are into the blood vessel. With black nails, it is likely that you will get too close on at least one nail.
If your dog has some clear and some black nails, use the average clear nail as a guide for cutting the black ones.
If you look closely at your cat’s nails, you will be able to see the quick, or nail bed, which is a pinkish area at the base of the nail As long as you stay at least 1/32” (1 mm) in front of the quick, you will be okay.
When cutting nails, use sharp trimmers. Dull trimmers tend to crush the nail and cause pain even if you are not in the quick.
You should always have styptic powder available. This is sold in pet stores under several trade names, but it will be labeled for use in trimming nails.