Auroralights Bengal Cats & Kittens of Michigan Red Bengals, Torbie, Browns, Silvers, Snows

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Your healthy kitten.

Topics listed below:
Newborn Kittens
Kittens 2-3wks old
Kittens 5-7wks old
Kittens 8-12wks old
The first vet visit.
The sleeping giants. Giardia, Coccidia, & Tri-trichomonas Foetus

Bringing a new kitten into your home can be very exciting but at times it can be very frustrating as well.  I have put this page together to help you have a healthier kitten.  This page and its information was not meant to scare you but to help you and the breeder that you bought your kitten from.
As Bengal breeders there are many things that happen with our breeding programs that can be very devestating and other things that can be very joyous!
We buy our Queens and Kings with the same expectations of health as you do. We want the perfect cat but sometimes things happen that are out of our controll.
One thing is something we call "Pyo."   The real word for this is Pyometria.  This is an infection of a cats uterus.  Sometimes it is very obvious and you will see a discharge from the cat (open pyo) and sometimes you will have no discharge but the cat becomes very ill (closed pyo).  This is a life threatening situation and must be delt with right away. The typical treatment for Pyo is being spayed (fixed).  This can be very devestating for a breeder who may have purchased this girl for a lot of money, grown very attached to her and now will never have kittens from her.  One thing that puts the female at a high risk for develping Pyo is "coming into heat". When a female cycles, typically this is obvious with loud meowing and crouching down with her rear end raised, her vaginal opening dialates just a little more leaving her more susceptable for bacteria to enter her uterus and cause infection. The creation of a large amount of pus in the uterus is known as Pyo.  If a female is treated successfully for Pyo and becomes pregnant, you can bet this will be a very important litter for the breeder and he/she may want to keep a kitten back for her program.  Many times this will be the reason a kitten will be posted as "under evaluation."  The breeder must let the kitten get older so the kittens pattern and structure can be evaluated better.   Almost every breeder has lost a cat due to sepsis (bacteria entering the blood stream from the infected uterus)  or has had to spay a cat due to the development of pyo.  This is very important to understand and is one of the MOST important reasons for spaying your kitten by 6 months of age.
As breeders, the birth of a litter of bengal kittens may have come easy or it may have been the surprise of a lifetime. A litter is born after 9wks of pregnancy.  Usually, by the time the cat is 4wks pregnant the breeder will be able to tell because her nipples will turn a darker shade of pink.
Inside the uterus the kitten is getting all of its oxygen through its umbilical cord which is attached to its placenta. During birth the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus and the kitten must be born soon or it will die.  This can be one reason for a kitten to be born dead but perfectly healthy. Once the kitten is born it must breathe air and its lungs must inflate. Many times there is a lot of fluid in its lungs and the kitten must fight against this and breath or it will die, again, a very typical reason for a kitten passing away at birth.
When the kitten is born and looks great, is breathing great and seems to be nursing well, the breeder will check the inside of the kittens mouth to make sure it does not have a cleft palate. This is an opening in the roof of the mouth leading to the nasal passages. If this is present, the kitten will die. It cannot nurse and surgery to fix this is not an option with a tiny kitten.  Then the kittens start to nurse and look great. Over the next few days the breeder will check on the kitten a lot.  We are looking for kittens that appear too skinny. These kittens will need to be tube fed. (for a video on tube feeding please check my home page for "Breeders helping Breeders.") (this video will be coming soon)   If the mom has no milk then the kitten will have to be fed by the breeder every two hours for the first 2wks and then every three hours from then on. It is a ton of work!  During all this we recieve lots of requests for pictures.  Please be patient. Many breeders do not disturb momma for anything that is not completely necessary for fear of stressing the kittens. Some don't mind taking pictures but each breeder is different so respect their ways please.  These babies might look big in pictures but they are only 2.5-3ozs at birth.

Kittens 2-3 wks old
This is the age when the kittens first start to open their eyes. Please do not be alarmed if you are sent a pictures of your kitten and it has one eye open and one closed. This is completely normal. You may also notice your kitten looks cross-eyed, this is normal too.  The kitten is just learning to see.  If you get a picture of your kitten and its eyes are blue, this will change unless you are buying a Lynx Snow. In this case, they are supposed to have blue eyes. Many times their eyes will show up red in pictures. Again, don't be alarmed, this is normal.

Kittens 5-7wks.
This is the time when breeders probably hate taking pictures the most.  At this age the kittens are starting to eat canned food and milk. They step in it, walk through it,  sit in it etc....needless to say. Sometimes they get food on them or dried milk on their face. It can be cute but not the best for taking pictures. Mom usually cleans them up quite quickly.
During this time, the momma cat usually comes into heat again.  This can be a nightmare for breeders. For some reason, we have not really figured out why yet, when mom comes into heat her milk gets sour.  Now, this doesn't make sense to some but trust me, this happens. When moms milk gets sour the kittens will get diarrhea.  This happens suddenly and can make the kittens very sick. A breeder that has been breeding long enough can usually recognize this and can start antibiotics to help the kittens get through this. This is typically resolved in about 5 days but the kittens can start to look pretty bad.  Think about it. They are trying to eat, getting food and milk all over themselves and momma cant be there to clean them up. (If you put mom with them, they will nurse and get sicker) So you are dealing with them being messy eaters. Then they climb into the litterbox and have diarrhea, sometimes yes, they step in that too.  We try our best to keep them clean, it is a ton of work.  After a few days, this resolves and the kittens will put weight on again. This can make a chubby kitten loose weight but they should put the weight back on again quite quickly.

 Kittens 8-12wks.
By this time the kittens are usually completely weaned from mom. They are eating well, drinking well, and running all over the place They are learning how to pounce on each other, stalk each other and learning how to climb.  Many times they are like our human toddlers and will play so hard that they forget to go potty until it is too late. It happens but they get better, lol! Kittens definitely grow at different rates during this time and it is not always a reflection of how big they will get as adults.  Nutrition and sleep are very important.  Here at Auroralights my kittens have "nap time."  They are put in their cage for around 2hrs to sleep. I then wake them up and let them use the potty box in the cage and then let them out to play.  There are litter boxes in the livingroom for them to use during play if they have to go again, but they usually always have to pee after a good nap.  My kittens are encouraged to play and stay awake with me during the day and sleep at night. I do this to keep them on a schedule for their new homes. (sorry if you are a human who sleeps all day and is up all night, you may have to retrain your kitten)  During the night, from around 10pm to 6am they are put back in their cage to sleep.  It is rare for me to hear them stirring during the night.
During this time the breeder is evaluating each kitten to see if it is ready to leave for its new home.  Some kittens can be 1.5lbs at 10wks while others can be 3lbs.  My kittens usually reach 2lbs by 9 wks of age. 

The most important thing you buy for your kitten to come home is a Pet Carrier.  This is a plastic carrier with a handle on top. It is meant to keep your kitten safe on the ride home.  Some people think it is ok to let a kitten run around the vehicle while driving home but this can be very dangerous. Kittens like to climb down by the brake pedal and can be easily crushed when the driver hits the brake pedal. They can also climb up under the dashboard and get stuck.  NEVER let you kitten out of the carrier when a door to your vehicle is open. You run a huge risk of your kitten getting outside and hit by a car, lost, etc..

When kittens leave for their new homes they should have been given their first kitten vaccine.  This is a series of two or three shots.  These shots MUST be given 3-5wks apart or the series must be started all over again.  Please make sure the breeder has given you a Health Record showing what specific vaccines were used,  what worming meds were given and when, and any other health related information on your kitten.  If the breeder gave your kitten its shots then the label from the vaccine (it is a sticker) should be attached to your health record.   I give two sets of kitten shots and then a booster at one year.
There are three vaccines that I do not give.
Chlamydia- Many breeders have decided not to use this vaccine because it has been making our kittens sick and many breeders suspect it is actually giving our kittens Chlamydia.
FIP vaccine- FIP is a devastating disease that can make an otherwise healthy kitten get very sick and die in a short period of time.  This vaccine is not only not recommended by breeders it usually VOIDS any health guarantees if it is given. 
Leukemia vaccine-  Leumemia can be a common disease among ferral cat populations but is not a disease that an indoor cat is at high risk of getting.  There is a very serious problem that can occur when a cat gets this vaccine, it is called an injection site sarcoma.  It happened in my breeding program so I take it very seriously.  It is a cancer that starts right at the site where the shot was given. If you bring home your kitten and it has a small (like a pea) lump under its skin, watch this lump. If it grows very slowly over time and doesn't go away and you kitten was given the Leukimia vaccine. Please have your Vet check your kitten.
Make sure you bring all of your vet records to your first vet appointment.

This is what I call three very common parasites that seems to be spreading through catteries and kennels in the U.S. and other countries as well.  Here is what happens.  You bring home your kitten and it seems perfectly fine.  A week or so goes by and you start to notice your kittens stools have changed to a runny consistency. Or they may look normal but have blood on them (the bright red blood turns dark very quickly so you would almost have to see the kitten have a bowel movement) Or you notice the kittens poop is just extra stinky.  These are some of the symptoms that may give you a clue that something isn't quite right.  Below I have discussed them each in detail:

1. Giardia Lamblia is a protozoan (single celled organism) parasite which is found in the small intestine. 
When you bring in your new kitten try to get a fresh stool sample for your vet and PLEASE REQUEST THAT THE VET DOES A "SNAP GIARDIA" TEST.  This test is very quick. It takes about 10 min's and works like a pregnancy test.  It costs about $25 but is well worth it.  " But my vet says it is cheaper to just look under the microscope at my kittens stool!"  Giardia is so small and the number of them may be so few that your vet is more likely to miss it, it is not easy to look for things that are so tiny in a stool sample.
What do I do if my new kitten has Giardia? As much as this is irritating, it is treatable in most cases.  Please contact the breeder you bought your kitten from and let them know.  Please do not get mad at them.  This fixes nothing and most breeders that have adult cats have no symptoms of the Giardia. This is because the adult cats body has built up an immune response to it and it doesn't give the adult diarrhea, it can but not always.

2. Coccidia-
Coccidia are single celled organisms that infect the intestine. They are microscopic parasites detectable on routine fecal tests in the same way that worms are, but coccidia are not worms and are not susceptible to deworming medications. They are also not visible to the naked eye. Coccidia infection causes a watery diarrhea that is sometimes bloody and can be a life-threatening problem to an especially young or small pet. Usually when a kitten has coccidia they will not have normal stools when you bring your kitten home.  Please ask your vet to check your kittens stool for Coccidia. 
Again, if your kitten has Coccidia it is very important to contact your breeder and let them know so they can treat their cats.

3. Tri-trichomonas Foetus- Also called Tri-trich or TF
TF  may be one of the most important causes of diarrhea in cats. It can infect and colonize the large intestine causing diarrhea that comes and goes. Sometimes the kitten/cat will have loose stool that never seems to go away.  Over the years vets have been stumped by this parasite and have told families their kittens have Irritable Bowel Syndrome etc.....  One of the most common symptoms (in my opinion) is a very foul smelling stool. 
TF is not something your vet is likely to see on a microscope slide.  TF dies very quickly when the stool reaches room temperature. Due to this and its small size your vet is not likely to find it on a slide.  The BEST test to do is called a PCR  test.  This test looks for the DNA in dead or alive TF so it is much more accurate.  Due to the cost of the test, it is not something many families are opting to perform on a new kitten. The test runs around $100.  If your kitten has good stool I would probably not suggest this test BUT if your kitten seems to be getting older and its stools are never quite right and they just plain STINK!  I would pay to have your kitten tested. 
Again, if you find out your kitten has Tri-trich please call or email your breeder to let them know.  This is very very important to treat.



I must emphasize that most breeders do not want to find out they have these parasites at their home.  Most of the breeders I know really want to produce the most healthy kittens possible and just hate to receive a phone call letting them know something is wrong.  If a breeder has one of these three parasites that doesn't mean that they are bad breeders. Sometimes the breeder has purchased another kitten for their program and the cute little bugger has run all over their house infecting other cats with one of these "sleeping giants".  The breeder thinks the kitten is safe because it doesn't "LOOK SICK".  This is one reason why we want you to keep your kitten away from other cats or dogs at your house until you have had the chance to make sure your kitten is free of all parasites.  If you choose not to properly test your kitten at your vet visit it could end up costing you a ton of money in the end.  This is because all three of these parasites can be transferred to other animals in your home.


The use of cages in breeding programs, I feel, is one of the most miss understood things when it comes to breeding healthy cats.
I always find it very interesting how there are breeders who will post on thier websites that "their cats are never caged. They are allowed to roam free and play together all day."  This statement seems to give families what I call the "Warm Fuzzies", while it makes many breeders think.  Wow, I bet their house stinks really bad or wow, I would never want to buy a kitten from them. 
Why is this?  What are these breeders thinking? Hopefully I can clear this up for you.
As you read above their are the three sleeping giants I referred too.  Imagine you have 4 adult cats (one who is expecting kittens) that all have run of the house. They share the water bowl, the food bowl, the toys and the litterbox.  They are all healthy and do not seem to have any problems.  Then their owner decides to buy another kitten for her breeding program.  The kitten comes home and seems ok so she is allowed to play with the adults and become one of the pack.  What the breeding doesn't know is this kitten has Giardia but isn't showing any symptoms.  Because all of the kittens are using the same litterbox it doesn't  take long before all 5 of the cats have Giardia.  Now the momma cat delivers her babies and they seem just fine until they are about 6wks old and start having such bad diarrhea that they are at risk of dying.  This is how one parasite can spread through a cattery. Now imagine it is common to hear of these three parasites, corona viruses, ring worm, chlamydia, strep.... the list goes on and on.  The fact is, the healthiest kittens come from the healthiest catteries. The healthiest catteries keep their cats separated from each other.  Many times they will still be let out to play with each other and the family and you can definitely tell this when you pet them and they are super loving.  Their cages should be as large as possible and sometimes are rooms.  Some breeders like to keep them two to a cage or two too a room which significantly decreases any chances of spreading an illness through an entire cattery.
Another reason we cage is because of spraying.  Spraying is a way males and females mark their territory when they want to breed.  YES females spray.  If cats are allowed to roam a house while they are in heat they are bound to mark in corners all over the house. This oder can ruin a home and make the house smell really bad.  I have one girl that has a special blanket that I have to wash every day when she is in heat.  It is just part of breeding and is something we just deal with.