In the natural world, big cats use grooming to maintain their social relationships. In a similar way, you can strengthen the bond with your kitten is by giving her a regular health check. It's a good idea to start doing this from a young age – that way, your kitten will soon start thinking of it as just another natural routine.
Making things comfortable
Before you check your kitten over, choose somewhere she feels comfortable – like your lap or on a bed. While you’re examining her, be as gentle as you can, and use lots of soft, reassuring words.
Breathing and abdomen
Listen to your kitten’s breathing, making sure that it's regular and not strained in any way. Very gently, run your hands along her sides, checking for anything that seems unusual.
Ears and eyes
Look into your kitten’s ears, checking for any scratches to the outer ear, inflammation or dark-coloured wax. Around your kitten’s eyes, look for discharge, inflammation or signs of injury. Never touch the eyeball, and don't put drops in without speaking to your vet.
Mouth and nose
Gently open your kitten’s mouth and look for broken teeth, inflamed gums or a build-up of plaque deposits. Your kitten’s nose is a good indicator of her general health – it should be cool and moist. If your kitten has a crusty nose or is sneezing a lot, she may have a cold. If you're at all worried, just book her into the vet for a more thorough check-up.
Check your kitten’s paws to see if she has any broken or missing claws. You’re also looking for injuries to the soft skin between her pads. Gentle pressure on her foot will unsheathe her claws – remember they’re sharp!
Speak to your vet
If you're worried about anything, keep an eye on your kitten for a day or two. If you're still not happy with how she is, give your vet a call.
You’ll find more details, hints and tips in our article on visiting the vet.