Spring is in the air. That means kittens are coming!
If you’re thinking of adding a little fur ball to your family, plan on several vet visits for exams, vaccinations, and feline leukemia testing. You can prepare your new friend for these future trips and also minimize stress by using the tips below as soon as your kitten joins your family. These tips have the potential to greatly improve your pets vet experience.
Acclimate your kitten to having his paws touched. The best way to do this is by frequently touching them gently yourself. Hold your kittens paw in your hand and touch his toes. Make sure to touch all four, don’t forget those back ones! The goal is to be able to touch your kitten’s paws without the kitten withdrawing his leg, running away, or exhibiting any other signs of stress. This will be a big help in the future when your kitten needs a nail trim or in the even he injures his paw.
Acclimate your kitten to having his ears touched. Again, the best way to do this is by touching his ears yourself. This includes gently sticking your finger into his ear canal slightly, not too far! Getting your kitten accustomed to handling his ears will be helpful for ear cleanings and any future ear infections that may pop up!
Acclimate your kitten to having his eyes (and the area around them) touched. Simply use a finger to gently rub the corners of his eyes. This will be helpful in the event your kitten ever has eye discharge or contracts an eye infection. It will make medicating and treating him a lot easier!
Acclimate your kitten to having his mouth touched. Use your fingers to carefully open his mouth. Kitten teeth are very sharp; so do not stick your fingers in his mouth as he may inadvertently nip you. This will help if your kitten were to ever get into something he shouldn’t have (as kittens are known to do), if you ever need to give him oral medications in the future, and when it is time to start brushing his teeth!
Acclimate your kitten to his carrier. Sometimes, as owners, this is the hardest part about vet visits. Trying to catch your cat and stuff him in a carrier is not fun. If the carrier is only brought out for vet visits, cats quickly associate it with unpleasant things. To avoid this, accustom your kitten to his carrier early on. Bring it out and set it somewhere out of the way. Your kitten will check it out at his leisure. To make it more appealing, you can add towels or blankets to it. You can also put some treats in the carrier to entice him to come in. If your kitten refuses to go in the carrier, try taking the top off, it’ll seem less scary. Once the kitten is “ok” with the bottom of the carrier, try reattaching the top but leaving the door off. Once your kitten is comfortable in the carrier, make sure you bring it out frequently, even if you aren’t on your way to the vet. This way the kitten will never know when the vet visit is! Getting your kitten used to the carrier will greatly reduce your stress, and thereby, his on vet visit days!
Acclimate your kitten to light restraint and being held. Do this by gently holding your kitten still for a few minutes. While holding him, gently touch his ears, eyes, and feet. This will help him feel comfortable when someone at your vet gently restrains him while the veterinarian does a thorough exam!
If at any point your kitten struggles or shows any signs of distress while attempting any of the above procedures, release him. We want these actions associated with good, fun things. Try using treats and/or toys as rewards or distractions. If your kitten does not immediately allow you to play with his paws or ears or eyes or mouth and just won’t sit still, don’t be discouraged! This may be a long process. Short sessions multiple times a day is the way to go! Stick with it. The first time your kitten gets an ear/eye infection or needs a nail trim you’ll be very happy you did! Your veterinary staff will thank you for your efforts too!