This information is not intended to be a substitute
for professional veterinary advice, but rather a resource of information
based on 28 years of breeding experience. For some topics there is
general agreement about the information being provided. For the health-related
issues (vaccination schedules, viruses, etc.) you will find a variety of
opinions, among breeders and among veterinarians. For those of you
who have any questions, I encourage you to talk with your veterinarian.
I am available to discuss any of these issues with your veterinarian, or
make arrangements to have my veterinarian consult with yours.
TO EXPECT WITH A NEW KITTEN
For all of our good intentions, nature does one
thing much better than any breeder can ever do. She only allows the
strongest to survive. And while her methods may be cruel, they are
truly effective. This natural selection process culls out those kittens
that are weak in any way that will allow their survival. For example,
in the wild, a kitten with a slight upper respiratory infection who cannot
smell food and doesn't eat for 3-4 days, will die. In the home of
someone who raises kittens, it is inconceivable to allow a kitten to die,
just because it has a "cold." So, while breeders make their best
effort to put the strongest and most vigorous cats together for breeding,
the breeding-in-captivity situation inherently lends itself to a weakening
of any breed.
We protect our kittens. We protect them
so well that they often do not get the "opportunity" to be exposed to things
that toughen up their immunities. For this reason, pedigreed cats
are slower to build up immunity to a variety of things that they would
be exposed to in the wild. Over time they will, but at a young age
a kitten is vulnerable.
Kittens are most vulnerable to upper respiratory
infections. A recent article on cattery management suggests that
there are at least 28 different kinds of viruses that can attack kittens.
Of those 28, there may be numerous strains of each particular virus.
The best veterinarian can only vaccinate for 7 basic viruses. These
are: Rhinotracheitis, Calici, Panleukopenia, Chlamydia, Feline Leukemia,
Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) and Rabies. That leaves much
to be desired in terms of ensuring that your kitten never becomes ill.
There is also a great deal of controversy regarding the administration
of vaccines--what type to give, what schedule to use, what manufacturer
to use, how effective they are.
adopted the University of California, Davis, Veterinary Teaching Hospital
schedule, and has supplemented this schedule of injected vaccines with
intranasal modified-live vaccines, which recent research has shown to be
effective in helping develop a stronger immunity in kittens at an earlier
The schedule we use is as follow:
1) Intranasal at 3 weeks and 6 weeks of age
2) Three-way (modified live with killed panleukopenia)
at 9 weeks and at 12+ weeks
The manufacturer's instructions say that if a
kitten has a series of two shots, one at less than 12 weeks and one after
12 weeks, (spaced at least 3-4 weeks apart), the vaccine is effective for
one year. Recent evidence suggests that an additional booster at
16 weeks may be very effective in further protecting the kitten from viral
infection. Since most people get their kittens prior to the age of
16 weeks, the decision to get a 16-week booster is up to you and your veterinarian.
You should keep in mind that our vaccines are purchased from the same suppliers
that veterinarians use. Other than the additional 16-week vaccine,
there is absolutely no reason to re-vaccinate a kitten for the viruses
that it has already been vaccinated against. After a cat has had its one-year
booster, the current recommended vaccination protocol is re-vaccination
every 3 years. Recent studies have indicated that over-vaccination
can be more harmful than good to a cat's immune system. For more information
Decisions about whether to vaccinate for Feline
Leukemia, Rabies, or FIP are decisions that you can make in consultation
with your veterinarian. We strongly recommend against the FIP vaccine.
Based on recent studies done by Cornell University, it has been shown to
actually sensitize some animals to the disease, and they can later develop
and die from it. More information on this study is available
Kattery is a closed, Feline Leukemia-negative cattery.
This means that no animal comes into the house without being tested first.
Since all basic breeding stock has been tested negative, we do not test
each individual kitten. In addition, since these cats do not go outside,
or come in contact with other cats who might have the virus, there is really
no chance of them being infected with the virus. This virus is only
spread through close contact, so cats cannot pick it up at cat shows.
The kinds of things that happen when a kitten
goes to a new environment are pretty universal. You should be prepared
for the following. These things are very common, and the solutions
are fairly simple. If what you experience goes well beyond the items
listed, please feel free to call me and discuss.
Kittens cry plaintively (as if they are in pain
or looking for something) for 2-3 days. The reason is usually
because they miss their siblings, miss their mother, or just plain miss
Kittens develop sniffles (teary eyes, runny
noses, sneezing) 7-10 days after they arrive in their new environment.
This is what is commonly referred to as a stress related breakdown.
It happens about 25% of the time. Sometimes, kittens that are shipped
across the country don't break, and kittens that go down the street do.
It has everything to do with each kitten's immunity and ability to handle
the "stress" of the change.
stresses a kitten?.
are two major kinds of stressors:
Psychological include: separation from siblings/mom
and change in routine. Physiological stressors include: temperature,
dust, allergens, humidity, change in food/water, physical activity, number
of cats in the household, etc. Physiological stressors have to do
with environments. Since each environment can be so different
in so many subtle ways, it is difficult to know how much the kitten will
be stressed and, therefore, what the chances are that it will break. When
kittens "break" they exhibit common cold symptoms. Like the common
cold in people, there is no cure. The standard practice is to provide
supportive care, and administer general antibiotics to prevent secondary
infection. What does that mean? It means the virus has to run
its course, and during its course you keep the eyes clean, use antibiotic
eye ointment if necessary and make sure the kitten is eating and getting
plenty of fluid. This kind of mild upper respiratory infection is very
Some viruses are carried by certain cats and
remain dormant until the animal is stressed. These chronic carriers
are almost always cats that have had a severe upper respiratory infection
as a kitten. Unfortunately, there is no way to determine which cats are
asymptomatic herpes virus carriers, and which ones are not.
only those breeder queens who have and no history of serious upper respiratory
infections and no history of producing kittens who are prone to upper respiratory
YOU CAN DO
You can provide an environment as close to mine
as possible. This includes the same food that the kitten is
used to eating, filtered or bottled water for awhile, lots of love and
attention, a good dust-free litter. Once the kitten is older, changes
can be made gradually, and are less likely to have a deleterious effect.
Feed a good, premium cat food. The kitten
has been raised on a mixture of PurinaOne Kitten Food, NutroMax kitten,
Pro-Plan, Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul. Dry food is available
at all times. When the kittens are very young, I put down a can of wet
food (on a plate), break it up with a fork, add a little warm water to
make it sloppy, then sprinkle the dry on top of it. This encourages the
kittens to eat through the dry to get to the wet. Or you can just mix the
wet food with a little dry. Dry is superior to wet in nutritional
value and helps to keep teeth clean. Gradually, the kittens
receive less canned and more dry, until they receive dry only. Most
kittens are eating dry food only by the age of 12-16 weeks. I have
also found that cats are nibblers and tend to like to eat many small meals
several times a day. They seem to do best and keep themselves at an optimum
weight if dry food is available to them at all times rather than being
fed on a schedule.
For wet food, I recommend Fancy Feast, Friskies
or Iams. I stay away from any canned food that has gravy in it.
Gravy seems to cause diarrhea in some kittens.
I generally do not feed grocery store dry cat
food, because it contains sugar and dyes, is not as nutritionally sound
as the premium foods and can cause diarrhea in kittens who are not used
to it. I have used Purina Kitten Chow or Royal Canin Baby Cat on occasions
where I am having difficulty weaning kittens. The current formula
of Purina Kitten Chow seems to have less dye than it used to and is tolerated
well by kittens. Both formulas can be moistened without getting rancid
and the kibble will turn into little sponges that kittens will eat when
their teeth are first coming in. They also seem to enjoy the taste
of both formulas dry.
Once the kitten has reached 6 months of age or
has been neutered/spayed, you can switch to an adult food. The caloric
needs of a cat drop dramatically after it has been spayed or neutered.
Kitten foods tend to be much higher in fat content which can contribute
to an overweight cat if it continues to get "kitten food" after it has
been spayed or neutered. I recommend NutroMax Adult Roasted Chicken
formula, any variety of Purina Pro-Plan or Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's
Soul or PurinaOne. There are several other premium foods on the market
that are very good. Nature's Recipe, Iams Original formula, Sensible
Choice, Eukanuba, Innova and Wysong are very good. Science Diet is
very greasy. It draws ants and has a tendency to make Bobtails overweight.
It also has a tendency to make their coats look greasy. I had previously
used Royal Canin for many years and recommended it, but some of their formulas
have changed and I no longer use them.
The key is to read the labels. The main
ingredient should be meat, chicken, lamb, turkey or fish. Meat or
chicken meal is okay as a first ingredient because it is essentially the
meat or chicken with the water removed. If the main ingredient is
corn, rice, or meat by-products then you might want to keep looking.
Cats with food allergies are most often allergic to corn and meat by-products
are the junk parts of animals that are usually thrown away at the butcher
shop. Cats are carnivores, and while they do need some starch to
digest meat, they seem to do best when the main ingredient in their diet
is meat. (For more information on Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul
Bobtails seem to prefer eating from a plate rather
than a bowl. Also, it is recommended that you use ceramic, glass,
or stainless steel bowls for water. Plastic bowls are notorious for harboring
a bacteria/fungus which causes chin acne.
COATS AND COLORING
its breeding program with cats from several different major catteries.
One of the most noticeable differences which became apparent from combining
these lines was kitten coat type. Some kittens have fluffy coats,
some have silky coats, some have coarser, bristly coats, some have plush
coats, and some have thin cottony coats. Breeders refer to this as
"unstable kitten coat." The differences are very noticeable in kittens,
but gradually disappear as the coat matures.
Kitten coats will start to change at around 4
months of age and may not complete the full transition to adult coat until
8 months of age. So if your kitten looks fluffy, wiry, wispy or
thin coated, rest assured that this will change. How long it takes
to become the mature, adult bobtail coat depends on the lines from which
it came. This also holds true for color, particularly with black
coloring. For kittens who carry brown tabby or blue, the black color
can look brownish, striped, or smoked until the adult coat comes in.
As with coat texture, coloring deepens on different time frames based on
Bobtails are very meticulous cats by nature,
but kittens have a short attention span. This means that they potty
train themselves, and don't make mistakes unless they are confused.
For this reason, I recommend that you confine your kitten to the
room with the litter pan for several hours, so that the location of the
litter pan is very clear.
These kittens are raised in a medium-sized house,
with a litter pan in each room. Often, when kittens go to a much
larger house and the urge hits them, they make mistakes--but only if the
litter pan is too far away. Show your kitten where the litter pan
is after its first meal, and put your kitten in it several times during
the first day. Make sure that access to the pan is never blocked
by a closed door. Kiddlyn
Katteryuses regular clay litters mixed with pine
pellets. If you want to minimize litter pan odor, use baking soda.
Using carpet freshening powders can be very irritating to kittens.
The dust level of litters is very important too.
These days I have found that Tidy Cat or Scamp seem to be the least dusty
of the popular clay litters. Some kittens are irritated by fragrances in
clay litters. Some kittens can use any type of litter with no problem.
If your kitten sneezes every time it uses the litter pan, consider changing
We also use Feline Pine or Pine Fresh (pine pellets)
added in with the clay litter. We put about one inch of pine on the
bottom of the litter pan and cover it with clay litter. Separately
these products work satisfactorily, but together they are extremely effective
in reducing odors and keeping the box relatively dry. The pine pellets
turn into sawdust when they get wet, then dry and become sawdust again.
They seem to draw the moisture out of the clay and prevent mud from sticking
to the bottom of the litter pan. This mixture really helps reduce
odor and allows the litter pan to dump out clean.
Be very careful when using the scoopable litter.
Some published information has indicated that it can be very dangerous.
Clay Kitty Litters: A Deadly Convenience?"http://www.thelighthouseonline.com/articles/clump.html
Besides the dangers outlined in this article, some of the so-called "multiple
cat" or "heavy clumping" formulas are very dusty. I have had one
report of a kitten getting a bacterial bronchitis from dusty, flushable,
scoopable litter, which coated his lungs and caused bouts of coughing.
The veterinarian who examined and x-rayed him said his lungs looked like
those of a coal miner. Scoop-Away No-Track formula is an excellent formula.
But if your kitten is a serious scratcher in the litter pan, you may want
to stay away from scoopable litter until he is an adult.
The new crystal litters seem to work well and
are relatively dust and odor free. As with the clay litter, a cup
or so of pine pellets mixed with the crystal will help keep it drier and
help it last longer.
We recommend the use of bottled or filtered water
during your kitten's adjustment period and for the rest of its life if
possible. We have found that in certain parts of the country there
seems to be an increase in Giardia infestations in cats and dogs.
These "beasties" are protozoan-type organisms which are usually found in
streams or in things like bird feces, but for some strange reason more
and more cats (who don't go outside) are getting giardia.
Brita filters don't remove giardia. There
is only one on-the-facet filter that we know of that effectively filters
out giardia and cryptosporidium organisms from water. It's the PUR
water filter. It can be purchased for $30-35 at Target, Costco/Price Club,
general department/home improvement stores and certain drug stores.
Severe diarrhea can be deadly to young kittens. Treatment is simple
with 5 days of a drug called Flagyl (Metronizadole). Giardia can
be difficult to diagnose, so we recommend the use of water that has been
filtered for Giardia and Cryptosporidium.