Mental and Physical Development: Declawing
Declawing is a controversial topic in feline medicine. Many people don't realize that declawing is actually amputating the first bone in each toe of the kitten. This is the equivalent of amputating the first bone on each of a human's fingers! Some veterinarians believe that this creates no permanent trauma or pain for the cat -- while others argue that it does.
Some kitten owners choose to declaw because the kitten is scratching the furniture, but they do not realize that with proper training, most kittens would prefer to scratch on scratching posts instead. Alternatives to declawing include the use of pheromone spray to decrease the kitten's desire to scratch; remote discipline using a squirt gun; or the application of soft plastic caps to the kitten's toenails.
If you do decide to declaw your kitten, the procedure should be performed when he is young, and he must then become an indoor-only cat for the rest of his life. Some cats also display behavioral problems after declawing surgery. Consult with your veterinarian regarding whether or not to pursue this surgery, but keep in mind that many veterinarians refuse to perform the procedure, due to the uncertainty regarding its long-term effects and pain for the cat.
Health and Veterinary Care
Digestion Issues At 20 weeks of age, a kitten's digestive system is still somewhat delicate and various factors may lead to digestive upset. Digestion issues in kittens may include symptoms like periodic vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, excessive thirst and poor body condition. Young kittens may experience infrequent digestive upset, but it is not normal for a kitten to have continual digestive problems.
The most common causes of digestive upset in kittens are stress, parasitic infections, a change in diet, and food allergies. Less common causes of digestive upset in kittens include inflammatory bowel disease and infection of the digestive tract by harmful bacteria, such as Helicobacter Pylori.
Extended digestive upset may interfere with nutrient absorption and growth, particularly in young kittens. If your 20-week-old kitten has been suffering from digestive upset, it is best to have your kitten examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Bordetella Bordetella bronchiseptica is a bacteria that can infect the upper respiratory tract. It is the primary agent involved in canine kennel cough, but it rarely affects cats.
Common signs of upper respiratory tract infections include nasal discharge, ocular discharge, conjunctivitis (red around the eyes), and sneezing. If you see any of these signs, call your veterinarian. Ninety percent of all feline upper respiratory tract infections are caused by feline herpesvirus (rhinotracheitis) and feline calicivirus, so Bordetella is not usually the cause if your kitten is displaying these symptoms. But you should still contact your veterinarian if your kitten is sick.
Dogs are routinely vaccinated for Bordetella, especially if they visit boarding facilities. There is a Bordetella vaccine available for cats, but it is not recommended except in rare circumstances. Consult with your veterinarian regarding your cat's individual risk.
Socialization is a lifelong learning process for cats, but the first six months of age are extremely important to how a kitten will approach socialization and relationships in the future.
At 20 weeks of age, a kitten is at a crucial stage of learning, and if other animals and people are not introduced to the kitten at this time, the kitten may have difficulties forming bonds in the future.
By the time a kitten has reached 20 weeks of age, he has learned behavioral and socialization lessons from his mother and siblings. If a kitten is adopted into a home with other pets, these socialization lessons extend to relationships with other animals. Relationships and bonds with people become deeper as the kitten matures. Continual contact with people and animals are needed to reinforce the socialization process.