Raising Your Kitten Right
An Updated Approach from Dr. Schuldt
I adopted two exceptional kittens while in veterinary school, Eubie and Poco. They were beneficiaries of my medical education: I followed the teachings of my professors, fed them high-quality (free) cat food, and ran all kinds of tests to make sure they were healthy. If one had even a little itch, he was seen by the nation's leading dermatologist. The boys stayed pretty healthy for most of their lives, with sweet Poco dying of kidney failure in 2008, and sassy Eubie surviving lymphoma until this March.
It was bittersweet for me to begin the search for new cats. I saw tiny kittens on Craigslist and, at 8 weeks, Starlee and Stoo came home to live with us. I thought a lot about what I was going to do to maximize their health and well-being. This time, since I'm now part of a team of feline experts and have 14 years of experience working with cats, it was easy. Simply put, I'm going to follow my own advice.
The perspectives on what constitutes good nutrition, appropriate play behavior, and a suitable home environment for cats have evolved tremendously since I last had kittens in my household. Feline veterinarians are enlightened to the idea that housecats will thrive if we give them the opportunity to be more like the wild cats from which they descended. Therefore, I am feeding the kittens a meat-based, high-protein, high-moisture diet, and no dry food. I give them food puzzles loaded with freeze-dried chicken, and reward their predatory play with meaty treats. They have perches to look out the window, two heated beds, and 3 uncovered litter boxes with clumping litter.
I am also following the protocol of preventative health care as laid out in our Well Kitten Package. I have vaccinated, dewormed, and tested them just as I would your kittens. The recommendations I make to clients every day at work are exactly what I'm doing at home, and later this summer, I will lead an evening discussion about choosing and raising kittens. I plan to focus on optimizing your cat's happiness and longevity by taking the modern approach to nutrition and environmental enrichment.
This article is from Cats Exclusive's Summer 2010 Mewsletter.