Hi, everybody. We’re back.
Hi, everyone. Welcome back to Coffee Talk. My name’s Dr. Erica Barron and today we’re going to talk about kittens. Is it working over there, Ellen?
It still says checking connection. We’re getting there.
We’re getting there. So Instagram will join us in a minute, hopefully soon. Today we’re going to talk about what you should have during a kitten exam, your first exam. So the first thing you need is a kitten. So we’re going to start with a kitten. And I don’t know if you have met this kitten before, but he’s a little famous. His name is Francis. Hi Francis. Oh, he’s the cutest little [inaudible]. He’s so cute. He had his vaccines today, so he’s a little sad. He’s very sad. He’s a very small kitten. He’s 10 weeks on. How big should he be?
He should be well over 2 pounds by now. He just hit a pound and a half.
He just hit a pound and a half. He’s a little man. So the first thing you need is a kitten at a kitten exam. He’s a kitten. One of the things we like you to bring on a kitten exam is a fecal sample because most kittens have intestinal parasites. It’s okay if they have intestinal parasites because we can treat them. We just need to know which ones they have because there’s not one anthelmintic that kills everything. Because if there was that would make our lives easy. But then it would actually make our lives difficult because then the bugs would become resistant to whatever we gave them and we’d have to choose something else. Hi from Seattle, it’s nice to see you. I’m trying to see your name. Laura Lee. So we like it when you bring a fecal in. Often, even if you’ve had a kitten dewormed multiple times, we keep wanting to check. So I always recommend bringing to your first vet visit regardless where, you got to take a fecal with you, it’s really easy. Just take it out of the litter box in a baggie. Try to make sure it’s less than 24 hours old and then we can check it for intestinal parasites. Ellen, when you have a kitten brought to you for the first time, besides having a fecal, what’s one of the first things you want to do?
The first thing that I want to do is we always make sure they’re leukemia and FIV negative, weigh him, temp him, and have one of the doctors do a complete physical because many of the kittens that we get are really sick.
Yes. And Ellen’s foundation, in case you don’t know, Ellen has a foundation that helps foster at-risk kittens. A lot of them are bottle babies like Francis was, and he’s so cute. I keep looking at him because he’s so cute. You’re not in the screen. Do you want to come over here?
No. I’m actually in the Instagram screen, so it doesn’t matter to me. So you can actually do your physical exam and I’ll make sure he doesn’t jump off the table for you.
Okay. All right. So we’re going to start with a physical exam. So I usually just kind of like to look at them at first. He’s not happy about that. One of the first things I always check for is an abdominal hernia. He does not have one. If they have been spayed recently, I will not palpate them I feel like that’s mean. I wouldn’t want someone to palpate me if I had recently been spayed. So sometimes I skip that part if it’s a female and she’s recently been spayed.
Would you like me to start, Ellen?
Then I look at all the baby teeth. Grrr. Look at those baby teeth. Just to remind you, a lot of kittens lose their baby teeth until they’re about six months old. You won’t see them fall out most of the time. Sometimes you will, sometimes you won’t. And a lot of times they just eat them, so if you don’t find them, don’t feel bad. All right. I’m going to listen to him now. Hi, buddy.
[silence] to me, he has a slight murmur today. We usually do heart murmurs from zero to six. I would say it’s about a one if that. And a lot of kittens have functional murmurs which means they go away. They can also have them when their heart rates very high. The lungs sound clear. A lot of cats come in with upper respiratory infections so I like to listen up their sinuses too.
Oh, Francis, she’s listening to your brain [laughter].
And I like to listen to their trachea. It’s really common for kittens to have herpe flair-ups at their first visit so it’s not uncommon for us to have to listen a lot.
I’m sorry.
Or for them to have goopy eyes or goopy stuff coming out of their noses. And we can often treat them with Lysine and Famciclovir and other things. I’m just checking out the whole eye. I see the depths of your soul Francis. He’s like, “I’m a wonderful soul. Don’t worry.” And then a lot of kittens when you first adopt them, they have ear mite infections or they’ll have some other type of ear infection in their ears. His ears look great. [inaudible] like, “I know. I clean them every day.” She doesn’t but I’m sure she would. I looked in his mouth already. Yes.
You did? See, I didn’t see it so this is why you need to pay attention when your veterinarian’s actually doing the exam because sometimes [inaudible].
The last thing I always do is look at their bottom.
He has a dirt bottom.
Yes, he does. I know he smells. That’s why I’m trying to wipe his butt.
It’s very dirty back there. So then after we do that, we’ll talk about intestinal parasite control.
I’m sorry.
You might want to give them an oral dewormer like something called Strongid. Or some people go pretty strong and use something called Panacur at their first visit. I usually don’t go with Panacur. I usually use Strongid. It’s yellow. Some people say it tastes like bananas. Do we want to?
Yeah.
It’s a little funny. We’re a little in a funny spot today. Sorry about that. The iPad was a little angered. So we’ll give them dewormer like Strongid. Sometimes people give [inaudible]. Sometimes people give [inaudible]. I usually like to wait for the heavy hitters until we prove that they have an issue. And the other thing we want to do is give them a flea control.
And there’s so many products out there on the market right now so we can actually tailor it really down to what your pet’s lifestyle is.
Yes. So some people want to make sure they only do something once every three months because that’s easy to remember just to do something once every three months. Some people like to do something every month. Everybody’s different. So there’s a lot of different products and your veterinarian should talk to you about which ones work best for you. We also want to make sure we start preventing heartworm. Heartworm’s unlike other parasites. Other worms that grow on the intestines, they grow in the blood vessels and they can cause heart disease. And unlike in dogs, it only takes one to do a lot of damage in a cat so we really like to prevent it if we can because it’s bad. So we usually do Heartgard or Revolution. Revolution does a lot of things. Heartgard just does heartworm disease in cats. In dogs, it also does intestinal parasites but it doesn’t in cats.
Now, when you typically see a kitten for their first appointment, other than doing the first basic physical exam and starting them on any necessary preventatives, what else do you like to discuss during a first exam when they finally see you after being adopted or even purchased from a breeder?
Okay. So we talk about vaccines and vaccine protocols but we also talk about kitten behavior. And that’s why I’m glad we’re doing this talk with Ellen because she’s kind of the queen of kitten behavior because she knows a lot about kittens because she takes care of a lot of kittens. So as I was saying earlier when I was looking at Francis’ mouth, one of the things you want to remember is that kittens chew on things because they’re teething until they’re about six months old. So you need to give them plenty of things to chew on. I know some people like to give them sticks and stuff from outside. I don’t really like sticks because I feel like they’re going to break and they’re going to inhale them in some way so I don’t usually recommend that. What are your favorite things to give cats to chew on Ellen?
Especially with kittens, one thing you do have to remember when they’re teething, they’re just not chewing on stuff because it’s like a child that it hurts. Cats use their mouths that same way we use our hands. They’re very tactile that way. So they’ll play very rough with their hands. Kittens are very rough and tumble so you have to remember that that is a very common behavior for them to be very assertive when they want to play. So you can make sure that you don’t use your hands like that. We don’t recommend doing the hand game at all because if they see the hand as a play toy and that it’s okay bite, and then as they get older they don’t understand that that really kind of starts to hurt after a while. So we don’t encourage that. What we do encourage is getting some soft toys that they can actually grab, wrap themselves around it, get a full bite out of it, and do the bunny kicking that they do to get it out that way. And those are perfectly safe to do. You also have to remember that their teeth are a lot smaller and thinner than a dog’s tooth when they’re little babies because they’ll break off a lot easier. So sticking with the softer elements and really letting them learn how to hunt and prey on those items are actually better than the hard sticks or other chewy things that are out there on the market that are marketed towards teething cats.
A lot of people, they’ll get a kitten and it has so much energy and it’s running around and it’s going crazy and then it sleeps most of the day and then it attacks the owner all night long or goes after it’s feet or something like. I usually recommend getting a kitten a friend because the most active times of day are always dusk and dawn. But what are some of the other things you think that are important to do for those really, really active kittens that want to run around and play?
Lots of enrichment. You have to focus on basically [catifying?] your home. They have to learn to be able to hunt which [inauidible] feeding program. The feeding program, you can put treats in it. you can put food in it. It keeps them busy during the day. Also having a lot of floor to ceiling elements for them to kind of go up and down on. People are doing the shelving in their homes, really high cat towers, having something in front of a window that they can actually look out of and be interactive with are really important. But if you’re at work all day and you’re gone for 10 hours, your cat’s sleep cycle is going to be during the day and they are going to be up when you are home. So if this is the situation and you decide to get yourself an eight-week-old kitten and you abandon it all day, you do need to get him a friend. They are incredibly social. They’ll keep each other company. They actually will play with each other. And I got one of those Wyze Cams for my house to see what my cats do. You’d be really surprised at how active they are during the day. I mean, my thing is going off all the time and it’s Benny’s playing with one of the kittens I currently have in the house. They’re not sleeping all day long. They’re actually really busy. And you can see them actually looking for stuff to do. It’s like they say curiosity kills the cat, they are very curious at home, especially when you give them stuff to do. But if you have that type of household that nobody gets home until 6:00 PM and then 6:00 to 11:00 PM you guys are watching TV and stuff, well, that’s your cat’s active hour suddenly, especially with a kitten. And you’re training them without me thinking that you are, but you’re training them that those are the appropriate hours for them to be up all night long because they’re waiting for you.
Yes. That is true. I will tell you the opposite of that is when I was on bed rest, and my two cats– so I was on bed to couch rest. So I would sit in bed, watch a couple hours of something, pretend to knit, pass out, get up, go to the couch. My cats did not move. They sat there like meatloaves. But they’re not kittens. They’re 13 and 14 so that’s okay.
Did they stay with you the entire time?
No. If I went in the other room, they just stayed where they were. They’re just like, “Why would we get off this comfortable bed? It’s awesome.” It was an awesome bed. I miss it right now but it’s okay [laughter].
Anyway, so let’s see, we talked about active kitten behaviors. Another thing to think about is when you get a kitten– I know Ellen touched on we want to make sure they have a feline leukemia or feline AIDS test. Some people like to repeat it at six months of age, some people don’t. The reasoning behind both of this is under 6 months of age, mom’s immunity might mask what is really going on. And over six months of age it might be different. I think everytime you get a new kitten into a household, you should do the test and then consider redoing it at six months. Any time any cat is sick, we should redo the test. It’s not common in our area, especially for indoor cats, but you need to know what’s going on because it will change their health care in the future. And then cats change after their spay and neuter. There’s a reason we spay and neuter them. We might not want them in the house if they weren’t spay and neutered.
Oh, gosh. Yeah [laughter]. Watch out dinner guests if they’re not spayed or neutered. Apparently, they’ll start their naughty behavior usually in front of company because they know they’re going to get the attention. Okay. So do spay and neuter early. It is safe to do despite a lot of the stuff out there you will see on Google, how they’re saying, “Do not spay and neuter before they’re 8 weeks of age or etc. because you’re preventing them from– they’re going to get urinary crystals when they grow up. They’re going to run into these problems.” Well, there’s really not a lot of studies out there yet on this. I don’t know if there’s any pending studies out there on this currently.
Probably. I feel like there’s a lot of studies pending on everything.
But the one reason why it is done so early here in the US – because I get a lot of people overseas that get very mad that we spay and neuter very young over here – is because we have such a pet overpopulation here in the United States that we are euthanizing millions of animals every single year because nobody’s getting them spayed or neutered in time. So a lot of the shelters, you want this kitten at eight, nine weeks of age, that kitten’s going to be spayed and neutered before they’re out the door because – this is the truth – they can’t trust you to get it done. And this is why this is happening, okay? We’re trying to prevent further pet populations issues from happening. That’s why it is recommended at such a young age because you guys want them early enough, but you’re not getting them to the vet fast enough to get them done. And they wind up getting pregnant beforehand, or going out and doing something with the neighbor’s cat, etc. which just is being irresponsible.
The other reason we want it done so early is because if you spay a female before her first heat cycle – I can speak – before her first heat cycle, she has less than 0.25% of getting mammary carcinoma or breast cancer.
Which are usually very aggressive. Once we find one lump– sometimes we luck out and the cat does very well. But a lot of times the surgery is done, etc. and that pet’s monitored over the next several months, sometimes it comes back very aggressively. So that’s another reason why from the veterinary standpoint of why they want to do it before their first heat cycle, the reason why the shelters like to do it so early, is to prevent the pet population.
The other thing is if you wait till, after the first heat cycle, it’s one and four just like everybody else. And some of the fancier cats like Siamese, I think Tonkinese also, correct me if I’m wrong, they are more likely to get breast cancer in general just because of their breed. So that’s the other reason if you’re not going to breed this cat, you should think about doing that early if the cat didn’t all ready come that way to you – the kitten. Other things we want to talk about at the first kitten appointment are just as sort of what Ellen was saying, cat-ifying your house. Remember cats want surface area more than space. You can have a very small apartment and if you have lots of surface area and ways for them to go up and down, they will be happier than if they have a huge hall.
Right. Think of it as having a permanent two-year-old for a long time, you have got to keep them busy. Keep them busy. The busier they are, the more that they can play with, and the more choices that they have. And it is important to rotate to toys out. Toys get boring after a while. Just like kids are done playing with something, rotate them out, you don’t have to throw them away, just rotate them out every few months, it gives them something new to play with. And they also smell for familiar if they remember what that is, but it’s really important to have a lot of scratching elements because kittens love to start learning how to scratch on things, the cardboard scratchers are [crosstalk]–
And you want them to learn to scratch on the right things [crosstalk]–
Yeah, so have lots of variety. I think I have like six scratching posts in my living room alone, and they’re all different sizes, one’s a little scratching pad with a ball in it, and one’s a scratcher pad that’s like a teepee shape, one is a pole, one is a big tower, I mean, we have lots of different choices for them and I haven’t had one kitten use my couch because of it.
One of the ways I hit around having I think the rule or the suggested rule is like two scratchers per room and they should be different types, is that on all of my door handles, I have that one that’s like a cardboard piece with [inaudible] wrapped around, and that’s always helped. I also have something hanging on the side of my bed. It was an old handbag that has [inaudible] on the outside when that was in, and I’d just let my cat scratch on that and that helps a lot. One of the things that I like to talk to people about during the first kitten exam is setting up good habits for each other. So this is a good time if you want to start touching your cat’s feet to try to get the use of clipping nails and maybe also touching their mouth a little bit. I know they’re going to bite right now because they’re teething, but you want to ideally if you could brush your cat’s teeth every day that would be great. You might save money on the long-run with dental, you might not, but it is helpful to kind of get, especially, that gingivitis down if you brush their teeth.
The other thing I also recommend is also touching their ears because if they do get an ear infection, that’s one of those things. I’m thinking of a couple of cats off the top of my head who always come in with ear infections and they’re so uncomfortable and so miserable, and they hate it when their owners touch their ears. And this might happen regardless because it’s painful. But if you kind of get into the habit of doing kind of like a check-over your cat everyday, going nose to tail and just kind of petting it everywhere, playing with it, feeling it, in that way if they get [inaudible] new lumps and bumps, stuff like that, you just get in good habits now and it stays, right?
Also good habits and also putting your cat into routine. Routines are very important for cats.
Cats love routines.
So it’s training on the routine, stick to the routine, you’ll have a much happier cat. But the one thing you need to remember is once you would have that routine down, changing that routine could be stressful oh, I know. I did not feed [Shugee?] this morning at 6:30 AM. I was getting ready for work– I usually get up, feed her, and get ready. But I got up earlier so I could try to get in earlier, and I was in the shower at 6:30 and she woke everybody up. She was walking around like, “Meow, meow, meow, meow. Where’s my wet food? How could you? How could you?” Patrick, does anybody have any questions over there?
It does not look like it.
Okay. Great. Does anybody have any questions here? One, two, four, [inaudible]. Rebecca to wash [free?] [inaudible] for the new BB. Oh, the new baby?
Yeah. We had a new kitten coming today.
We’re excited.
So are you ready? So since we’ve kind of gone over the first kitten exam, etc., make sure that you bring as many questions as possible to it. Your veterinarian’s going to do a lot of stuff very quickly in front of you and they’re going to be talking to you at the same time, so don’t expect your first visit to be over an hour long. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to answer two questions, possibly what’s considered an embarrassing veterinary question at your visit.
So to remind you, in case you didn’t see our last video Ellen posted, and you can always comment below this or you could send it to the office at office@novacatclinic.com. Or you could send it directly to Ellen [in your?] cat LVT. Oh no, this must be a good one. Ellen has such a grin on her face [laughter]. And she has this fishbowl of these questions that people have submitted that might be too embarrassing to ask their vet, or they just want to know if this is real. So Ellen likes to see my reactions to these and see if I can help.
And see if she actually knows what she’s talking about, right [laughter].
Oh, wait, hold on. They found a one-week old kitten under a bush in a parking lot today. What [laughter] do you do? Ellen?
Depends on where you are. If you found a one-week old kitten in your parking lot, the best thing to do is to take it to the local animal shelter, find out if they have a foster program and somebody to help you.
Yes. Because they will need [crosstalk].
Especially if you do not know what you are doing.
Oh, the kitten’s here.
Oh, the kitten’s here. Oh, yay.
It’s going to be so cute. You guys can’t even stand it. I’m so excited for you to see this kitten.
Oh, fat yellow butt.
Oh, it smells.
It does.
Oh no. Hold on, let me get some wipes.
Oh, it’s so cute. Ah!
Oh. Oh. Oh. Okay. We’ve got to do the questions though. Oh, it has a gross spot.
[crosstalk]
Let me see. Let me see. Oh, it’s got a raw booty. Oh, no, it hurts. Oh, it hurts.
So Ellen, you want to do the questions? Or are we done?
While Patrick is cleaning up that poor little kitten, we’re going to actually start do an exam and cleaning him up when we’re done here, is actually– this question is about poop.
Oh, good.
Why do cats have a burst of energy after pooping and race around the house?
They feel better. It’s the same like if you push something hard out and you feel better afterwards. But also, they have anal glands, so usually when they express them they’re just like, “Oh, I got to get away from there. I feel better.” Is that you would’ve said? That’s what I think [laughter].
I just think cats love their litter box, which I think is funny. But there are some of them out there that literally run around the house thinking that they feel great. Or the opposite of like, uh-uh, I want nothing to do with this. Kind of the cats that don’t want to bury it in the litter box. So the other cat in the household will come by and be like, “What did you leave here?”
Yes. You’re supposed to bury it. Have better manners than this.
Yes. So they’ll do that as well.
I always feel like cats that don’t bury it probably feel really comfortable, because they usually bury things to cover their scent. So I feel like if they’re not burying it, it must be a good sign because they feel comfortable in your house.
Okay. Last question before we have to take care of this poor little baby. Why does my cat growl like a dog when anyone knocks at the front door?
The kitten’s answering for me. The cat probably growls because it’s a little bit defensive of its territory.
Sounds good. That’s a legit thing to do. And there’s a lot of people that will ask me that question as well, that they were commenting saying that their cat does it too.
Oh, my grandma’s cat used to be– not this one or the last one. The third one. Its name was Dory or BB for Betty Boop. She went back and forth. But that one, the minute anyone knocked, this cat was like a mean old lady cat. The only one who could touch the cat was my grandma. And she would just make the worst noises you’ve ever heard and it was because she was aggressive towards others, defensive, or– it might not even be aggressive towards others. They just want to take care of their surroundings.
[inaudible] has never buried. I feel like if your cat doesn’t bury its feces or its urine, it’s probably a good sign. That means that it’s comfortable. So we’re going to sign off, because we have to go take care of this little itty bitty kitten. It’s orange and it’s so cute. And feel free to follow Ellen on Instagram, because I’m sure she’ll have updates about this little kitten on there. She’s thecatlvt. And thank you for sharing this time with us that we can help you again. My name’s [inaudible] Erica Barron and that was Ellen Carozza. And feel free to message below this is if you have any questions, if there’s a topic–
Oh, it’s so hungry. Oh, it’s so hungry. It wants [crosstalk].
–you’d like us to talk about, or email us at NOVA Cat Clinic, which is office@novacatclinic.com. Thanks. Have a great day. Oh, I need to finish. There’s the finish button.