Kitten Care

kittensCongratulations! Owning a new kitten can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. However, as with any new addition to a family, there are often adjustments and changes that can be made to make the transition easier for everyone in the household. This handout will address some of the questions and challenges facing the owners of a new kitten.

Kittens are naturally inquisitive and your new addition will want to explore its new surroundings as soon as possible. However, in order to avoid overwhelming your kitten, it is best to allow this exploration in stages. For the first few days confine your kitten to one or two rooms and then gradually allow him to move to other portions of your home. This gradual expansion of boundaries will allow your kitten to always have a safe haven in a previously explored area of the home.

Your new kitten may initially receive a hostile reaction from your current pets, especially another cat. In order to minimize this reaction, make sure that that your established pets do not feel the need to compete with the kitten for attention or food. Shower all of your pets with attention during the homecoming, introduction period and until the household has settled into a normal routine. And do not let the new kitten eat or drink from an established cats bowls.

It is important to stimulate your new kitten with many types of play and socialization in order to foster proper muscle development and to teach proper social skills. Two types of essential play behaviors are stalking and pouncing. These behaviors can be encouraged by providing toys that are lightweight, easily movable and have unique sounds to attract your kittens attention during play. Some examples of these toys are small balls, crumpled paper and lengths of yarn, string or ribbon that may be drug across the floor. Remember, however, that your kitten should always be supervised when playing with small items that may present a swallowing or choking hazard.

Kittens learn a great deal about the world around them and acceptable social behavior between the ages of two and twelve weeks. During this time it is important for you to expose your new addition to as many positive experiences with men, women, children, dogs, cats and other pets as possible. Positive experiences in many different settings during this time will help prevent your kitten to becoming scared or skittish in new environments and around strangers.

Kittens are rambunctious and curious. Unfortunately, these normally cute characteristics can also lead to destructive behavior. If your kitten is caught in the act of destructive behavior, it may be necessary to discipline it. Physical and harsh punishment for kittens is never recommended. Instead it is best to use a punishment that will be associated with the undesired behavior and not the enforcer. Some examples of these types of punishment include using a squirt bottle, horn, or hand clap to startle the kitten.

As with any new pet, proper veterinary care is essential to maintaining a healthy happy kitten. Your new kitten will receive a series of vaccinations to help protect it against five preventable feline diseases. These diseases are rabies, feline distemper and three types of respiratory organisms. This series of injections is normally given between six to eight weeks of age, at 12 weeks and again at 16 weeks. Vaccinations are also available for feline leukemia and FIP (feline infectious peritonitis). However, consult your veterinarian about these vaccines as they may not be necessary for your kitten if it does not go outside or if it is not exposed to multiple cats.

Crate Training

Crate training
Crate training your dog is a safe and humane way to contain your pet and eliminate unwanted behaviors while you are unable to watch your pet. When you crate train your pet properly, it will help you with housebreaking and  help to relieve anxiety and reduce barking  by providing a safe place for your pet.  A dog who is crate trained early will also be much more relaxed and calm, if it is necessary to travel or board later in life.

When determining if your dog will be confined to a crate or a room in your home, it is important to determine how long you will be absent. If you will be away for a really long time and you are not able to come home to let your dog out,  it may be advisable to confine your pet to a puppy-proofed room in your home with a convenient place to defecate. If you are away only a short time, it is advisable to confine the animal to a crate. If properly trained, your pet will soon see the cage as a safe haven much like a den.
When choosing to buy a crate, consider the size of your pet, personality, and your travel plans in the future. Your crate should be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around and lay down comfortably. It should have a place for fresh water and food and adequate ventilation. If your pet is sociable and wants to see the world around them, then a mesh crate or a designer den may be a wonderful choice. However, if travel plans in the future of your family, then maybe a sturdy airline approved plastic crate would be a better option.


The first step in crate training your puppy is to teach your pet that crate is a safe haven for him. To do this you should avoid using the crate as a form of punishment and instead associate it with quiet, relaxing and enjoyable experiences. But it is good to remember that it is not a punishment but can be a  useful tool to eliminate certain destructive behaviors.

Begin by letting your puppy to explore the crate on his own. Make the crate a warm and welcoming place by putting his favorite pet bed inside and placing tasty treats or new toys. After a day of adequate exploration and he’s willing to go in and out of the crate on his own, take the dog out to eliminate and exercise.

After returning indoors, put him in the crate with food, water and some new toys. Shut the door and leave the room. Remain close enough to hear the puppy, but out of sight. If he is tired after the recent exercise, then the short nap in the box.

Vocalization and escape exploration is normal when your pet is first confined to his crate. Wait a few minutes, until the puppy has stopped vocalizing before releasing him. Do not let your puppy out when he barks or cry because it reinforces the behavior and links barking with being out of the cage. If your puppy will not stop barking, then some external behavior modification may be necessary to distract the pup and make it stop. A squirt bottle or shaker can be used for the startle response.

When you let your pet out of the box do not get excited or offer too much praise. To be released from the crate should not be treated as a reward, rather that  going in the cage should be praised and rewarded. Practice leaving your pet in the crate for short periods many times during the next few days. At bedtime, your pet should also be placed in the crate after taken outside for elimination and exercise.

As the puppy becomes more comfortable in her new crate, gradually increase the time the puppy is kept confined. Keep in mind how long your pet can hold his bladder and never let it be kept in a crate for longer than this time. As your pet gets older and the time spent in her new crate can be increased, hopefully he will like his space as a safe haven and a place to find new and exciting treats and toys.
Dr Debra Garrison

Dr. Debra Garrison
Dr. Debra Garrison

Puppy Care

Congratulations! Bringing home a new puppy is fun, but it is also a huge responsibility that lasts its lifetime, which can sometimes reach 12 to 18 years or longer. The first six months of your puppies life are the most critical and establishes his health and behavior for the rest of his life.puppy You, as the puppies advocate, must ensure he is protected from disease with a series of vaccinations and effective monthly parasite control. Thousands of inadequately vaccinated puppies never make it to see their first birthday because of diseases such as parvovirus and distemper. Thousands more will die from heartworm disease from the bite of one single mosquito, and even more may succumb to intestinal parasites, such as hookworms, even before they even reach 2 months old.

The majority of dogs relinquished to animal shelters is usually because of behavioral issues, such as dog aggressiveness that results in a dog bite, the inability to house train or unruly and destructive behavior. These are natural tendencies in dogs, and it is your responsibility to learn the how the dog thinks and use the natural, instinctive pack leadership skills to effectively modify both you and your dog’s behavior and solidify a great and rewarding relationship with your new puppy and family

Puppy proofing your home is another safety precaution you must establish. There are several hazards to young puppies you must look out for, such as electrical cords, toxic houseplants, foods that must not be fed, and toxic substances that need to be secured. Providing a safe haven for your puppy, such as a crate, when you are away, will keep him out of trouble and will also hasten house training.

There is so much more that I want to share with you that I have developed a series of newsletters and videos to help you take great care of your puppy and then well into his senior years. Register for my puppy care newsletter and you will also get some bonus e-books.

Recommendations for Puppies

Age 2, 4, 6 weeks of age

* deworm for hookworms and roundworms
* check for other intestinal parasites such as coccidia, tapeworms, whipworms and giardia

6-8 weeks of age

* Wellness Examination (WE) Check eyes, ears, heart, lungs, teeth, and other structures.
* DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvo, )
* Parasite Check
* Dewormer
* Start Heartworm preventative
* Start Flea medication
* Behavior counseling (crate training)

12 weeks

* Wellness Exam
* DHPP #2
* Bordetella #1
* Leptospirosis #1 (4 way)
* Dewormer
* Heartworm and Flea medication

16 weeks

* Wellness Exam
* DHPP#3
* Rabies
* Lepto #2
* Bordetella #2
* Heartworm and Flea medications

5months and older

* Spay or neuter
* Blood profile to screen for congenital problems prior to surgery
* give heartworm and flea medication every month all year round
* feed high quality pet foods, avoid generic brands
* Start getting your pet used to brushing teeth while they are young.

10months old

* parvo booster
* bordetella booster
* parasite check


* Wellnes Examination
* Rabies
* Leptospirosis
* Bordetella
* Heartworm (Erhlichia and Lyme) test
* Parasite Check
* Lyme booster
* Giardia booster
* If pet has received 2 Rabies Vaccinations exactly 365 days or less in a row, then pet may go to a Rabies injection every 3 years. If the two vaccines are more than 365 days apart, then they must get another vaccine within the year.
* Pets age 7 years for every 1 calender year. Physical exams on a bi-annual basis are a good way to screen for health problems before they become major.

Dr. Debra Garrison
Dr. Debra Garrison