Mental and Physical Developmentof Your 8 Week Old Kitten
Attention and Affection: Interactions with People for Your 8 Week Old Kitten
At eight weeks old, kittens need to be touched in order to build strong bonds with the people in their lives. Gentle, affectionate handling of your 8 week old kitten not only teaches your kitten the basics of social interaction, it also stimulates the neural pathways that aid the kitten's normal development.
Kittens respond to playful attention and cuddling that is pleasant and calming. Talk to your kitten as you pet her gently, and respect your kitten's wishes to be put down when she squirms to be released. Kittens love to play and pounce, but your hands should not be used as a toy.
Resist teasing or treating your 8 week old kitten roughly -- and never allow anyone else to do so. If your kitten misbehaves, simply withdraw your attention, just as a mother cat would do. Remember that growing kittens need plenty of naptime, so do not disturb your kitten when she is sleeping.
At this crucial time in your kitten's life, strive for a foundation of mutual trust; this will encourage her to feel secure and confident.
Changes in Diet Needs
Kittens at eight weeks of age should be fed a high-quality commercial kitten diet food, which should include high amounts of proteins, fats and vitamins. Kittens -- as well as cats -- like to nibble on their food throughout the day, but if you cannot leave your kitten's food out, try to feed your kitten at least three to four times a day.
There is no doubt that kittens, and cats, enjoy the taste of wet food, but a diet of only wet food can harm the long-term health of your kitten's teeth. At eight weeks of age, your kitten's teeth are strong enough to handle dry kitten food. If you still wish to feed your kitten wet food, mix a small amount of wet with dry kitten food. Follow the feeding amount recommendations on your kitten's food package, and remember to introduce new foods slowly.
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Health and Veterinary Care for Your 8 Week Old Kitten
Your 8 Week Old Kitten's First Visit to the Vet
When your kitten reaches eight weeks old, it is time to get her started on her kitten vaccination series. She will need to receive the core vaccines -- meaning those that are considered necessary for all kittens -- which include feline panleukopenia, feline herpesvirus (rhinotracheitis), and feline calicivirus. The good news is that all three of these vaccines can be given in one shot!
This first visit to the veterinary clinic is one of at least three or four more visits. These vaccines are given every three to four weeks, starting when the kitten is between eight and nine weeks of age and ending at 16 weeks of age.
At this first visit, it is also routine for your veterinarian to collect a few drops of blood, which will be used to test your kitten for feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). FeLV can be transmitted through contact with an infected cat or from mother to kitten. FIV is usually only contracted via deep bite wounds. Many veterinarians recommend retesting at six months of age, because sometimes FIV won't show up in the kitten's blood until this time.
Deworming Your Kitten
It is also now time to start your kitten on her deworming schedule, if you haven't already done so. The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) recommends deworming at three, five, seven and nine weeks of age, then again monthly until six months of age. Consult your veterinarian to design an individualized deworming schedule for your kitten.
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Training Your 8 Week Old Kitten: Litter Box Training
Your 8 week-old kitten has likely been using a litter box for several weeks already, but the transfer into a new home may lead to a few "accidents." Kittens have a natural instinct to dig and urinate or defecate in dirt-like substrates. If they were raised with their mother, they may have learned by watching her do this.
Once you bring your kitten home, it is ideal to isolate her in a small area at first. For example, a bathroom or bedroom is ideal. She won't need much space and you want to get her in the habit of using her litter box before you expand her "territory" within the home.
Provide your kitten with clumping, sandy, unscented litter and place her in the box whenever she is done eating. If she defecates on the floor, place the "sample" into her litter box and place her in the box with it. Hopefully, she will bury it and learn that this is the correct location.
If you see her squat and she is not in the box...gently but swiftly pick her up and place her in the box to finish the job. Never discipline a kitten for having an accident, this will only create anxiety and will hinder the ability to learn new behaviors.
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