New Puppy & Kitten Owners

Our advice for new puppy and kitten owners

  • Kittens
  • Puppies
  • How to help your cat feel safe and in control when they visit the Vets


Congratulations on your new addition, we look forward to meeting him or her.  We’ve put together this guide to help get you started.  For further information please call to speak with our Veterinary Nurses or search Cat Care for Life – Life stage guide to caring for your new kitten.

Vaccinating your kitten

Vaccinating helps protect your kitten against several serious diseases. Kittens can start their vaccinations at 9 weeks old, the primary course includes two vaccinations 3 – 4 weeks apart. Once they have received their primary course of vaccinations they will need a booster against some of these diseases on a yearly basis.

The core vaccinations protect against Feline panleukopenia, Feline herpes virus and Feline calici virus.  We would also recommend that a kitten that is going to be allowed outside as an adult cat has the Feline leukaemia vaccine (FeLV).

Flea and worm control

It is important to protect your kitten from flea and worm infestations. The Veterinary Surgeon will discuss the treatment options available at your kitten’s first health check.

Neutering your kitten

We would recommend that you keep your kitten indoors until they are neutered as they are not very safety conscious and are at a higher risk of injury during the first few months of their life. Kittens become sexually mature from around four months of age and therefore females are capable of getting pregnant from an early age. We recommend that kittens are neutered at around five months of age. At the time of neutering we also recommend getting your kitten microchipped.

What to feed a kitten

Cats are obligate carnivores, this means that they need meat in their diet to be able to function and survive. There are many different diets on the market, ensure that the one you choose is complete. Kittens have small stomachs and therefore need feeding little and often. Kittens aged between 8 – 12 weeks need at least four small meals a day and kittens aged between 3 – 6 months need at least three small meals a day.

Bringing your kitten home

It can be daunting for a small kitten coming into a new home, especially if there are small children and/or other pets in the house. It is best to choose a room that your kitten can stay in for a couple of weeks so that they can get used to their new surroundings. Ensure your kitten feels safe and secure, this can be accomplished by providing quiet spaces, high sided beds (or cardboard boxes) for hiding in and ensuring that they have all that they require within easy

reach. As a general rule cats need one of everything plus a spare, so for example one kitten would require two litter trays, two food bowls and two water bowls. These amenities should not be placed together but placed strategically so as your kitten has options on where they feel comfortable to eat, drink and toilet. Litter trays should not be placed near food bowls.

Handling your kitten

The temptation when getting a new kitten is to shower it with lots of love and cuddles! This can be quite overwhelming, especially if there are excited children in the house. During the first couple of days it is best to let your kitten initiate interaction with you until it gets used to its new surroundings. It is best to handle your kitten frequently throughout the day for short periods of time. Any affection should be calm and gentle starting with the head and face area. Once your kitten is used to being stroked you can get them used to being picked up, ensuring they are held securely close to the body to make them feel secure.

Introducing a kitten to your resident cat

It is important to plan ahead and prepare when introducing a kitten to your resident cat. A well planned, slow introduction will be the best chance you have of achieving a good long-term relationship between cats. Please ask one of the nurses or reception staff for more information on how to do this or visit


Congratulations on your new addition!  We look forward to meeting him or her.  In the meantime, we have put together some information but please feel free to ask any of our veterinary nurses for further advice.

Crate training

Crate training your puppy has many benefits. Speak to one of our veterinary nurses if you need any advice on this.  The benefits of crate training include:

  • A safe space to put puppy when supervision is not possible
  • Beneficial for toilet training
  • A den for the dog  to go to if overwhelmed
  • Keeps puppy safe when travelling
  • Reduces the risk of separation anxiety


During your puppy’s first few weeks at home their socialisation is one of the most important things to consider.  It is important for your puppy to experience as many new situations, smells, sounds, people and animals to become a confident and well-rounded individual. Watch your puppy’s body language carefully and if they show any signs of fear (lip licking, yawning, looking away), then take them to a greater distance from the thing they are scared of and use treats to encourage a positive association until they are ready to get closer.

At this age puppies are not fully vaccinated so cannot experience these things while walking, however this shouldn't stop you from carrying your puppy to new places, travelling in the car and inviting new people around to the home.  There are also various videos online to expose your puppy to new sounds.

Puppy training

Training classes are a good way to combine socialisation and learning valuable skills for the future. Make sure to book on early as classes fill up quickly.


Most breeders will send you home with the food that the puppy has been weaned onto. We recommend sticking to this diet for the first few weeks while the puppy settles in as long as it is a good quality puppy food. Once the puppy has settled into its new home a new diet can be introduced slowly if recommended. Please feel free to speak to a member of the team about diet.

Puppies should be fed in 3 meals until 6 months of age when they can gradually reduce to 2 meals a day. Puppies can have a sensitive stomach so be careful with treats. The puppy’s own kibble can also be used for training treats.

Enrichment toys such as Kong’s, LickiMats and treat balls can also be used with food to provide mental stimulation.


It is important to get your puppy used to being handled as soon as possible. This includes handling paws, ears and the mouth. This ensures the puppy is comfortable with handling which reduces stress levels for future vet/groomer visits.

Brushing should be introduced early, especially in long haired breeds. This is to ensure the dog is comfortable with this and will make it easier in the long run. Tooth brushing should also be slowly introduced to reduce the risk of dental disease in the future.


We recommend getting life time insurance as soon as possible with a reputable company.  Please ask us about 4 weeks free insurance.


Exercise should be regulated and only gradually built up in all puppies. This is due to the joints needing time to mature and growth plates needing time to fuse. If your puppy is a breed that is high risk for joint problems then this is especially important.  Smaller breeds of dogs mature earlier than larger breeds. Some larger breeds take until 2 years to fully mature.

The type of exercise your puppy does is important to reduce the risk of any joint problems developing.    Restricting high impact exercise such as ball games, agility or running/ cycling with your puppy until they are fully developed is recommended.

Ensure that your puppy wears a well-fitting collar/harness. It is also a legal requirement for your puppy to wear an identity tag as well as have an up to date microchip.

How to help your cat feel safe and in control when they visit the Vets

Cats are very territorial and creatures of habit, when we bring them to the vets we are taking them out of their territory which will make them feel vulnerable and nervous.  Cats will be exposed to many stressors when they visit the vets, including

  • A strange cat basket.
  • An unfamiliar car journey.
  • Strange smells, sights and noises on the journey and in the clinic.
  • Unfamiliar people and animals, both of which can be highly threatening – even if a cat is used to living with its canine friend meeting a strange dog in the clinic can be very distressing.
  • Being handled and examined by unfamiliar people in an unfamiliar environment.

These can be significant challenges for any cat; however, there are ways to make your cat (and you) feel more at ease.

Prior to your visit:

Familiar smells will make your cat feel less stressed.

  • Use the carrier at home – encourage your cat to sleep or be fed in the carrier so that it becomes a positive experience for them rather than a negative.  Baskets should be strong, escape proof and allow easy access for both the cat and the owner/veterinary staff. Top opening carriers are easier as the cat can be gently lifted in and out.  Plastic carriers will make your cat feel secure and are easy to clean.  Wire carriers are fine as long as they are covered, wicker carriers can be less practical when trying to get your cat in and out.
  • Put bedding or clothing that smells of home in the carrier.  It is best to put an old newspaper under the bedding should an accident happen.
  • Spray the carrier with Feliway a synthetic pheromone that will help your cat feel more relaxed, 30 minutes before using it.  For more information on Feliway please visit or speak to one of the nurses.

Booking your appointment:

Where possible book appointments for quiet periods and let the nurses know that your cat may be frightened.

Everyone has their favourites and cats are no exception.  If your cat seems better with one particular vet then please ask the receptionists to book your appointment with that vet whenever possible.

Travelling to the surgery:

  • Cats need to be able to hide, covering the cat carrier when travelling with a blanket or a towel may help to reduce stress.  This will also be invaluable in the waiting room.
  • Secure the carrier in the foot well or strap it in using a seat belt to make sure it is secure and will not move.
  • Drive calmly and try to avoid loud music.  Talk quietly and reassuringly to the cat and stay calm, as cats are very good at picking up tension in their owners.
  • For more information on getting to the surgery please visit the International CatCare YouTube channel

Once at the surgery:

  • If you would prefer to wait in your car with your cat then let the receptionists know you have arrived so as they can book you in and call you when the vet is ready.
  • When in the surgery waiting room keep your cat carrier covered, don’t worry if you don’t have a blanket or towel, we have blankets sprayed with Feliway behind the reception desk – please ask for one.
  • If possible place your cat carrier on a chair, cats feel safer when they are not on the floor.