Your new kitten‘s socialization begins as soon as you bring him home. Along with acclimating your kitten to having his hair brushed — and being bathed — you need to get him used to having his ears, eyes and teeth checked and cared for. Not only is this important for future grooming but for present and future trips to the veterinarian.


Healthy eyes require very little attention except to use a moist cloth to clean away any crusts that may accumulate overnight. But some kittens may develop conjunctivitis. The discharge may be so profuse that it makes the lids stick together. If this happens, you will need to take the kitten to his veterinarian for treatment. Timely vaccinations can help prevent some causes of conjunctivitis.

Healthy kitten eyes are wide open, free of discharge, with a moist, glistening surface. The pupils appear round in dim light and look like vertical slits in bright light. If your kitten is pawing at his eyes, squinting, holding one or both eyelids shut, blinking or tearing excessively, or has unequal pupils, he needs to be seen by his veterinarian.

If you need to apply eyedrops, wait until the kitten is drowsy and then tip his head back and place the drops or ointment in the inner corner of the infected eye (or eyes). Follow with a treat immediately.


Ear mites are especially common in kittens. They’re contagious, so separate a cat you suspect of having them from other pets. Signs can include head shaking, scratching and a dark coffee ground-like buildup in the ears. They itch like mad, so you need to address them immediately. Your veterinarian can prescribe effective medication.

Aside from mite problems, most kittens have fairly healthy ears. Look as far inside them as you can to check for debris. A certain amount of wax is normal and serves as a protective function in the ear, but if you see black or brown globs, you may need to clean the ears. Consult your veterinarian to see if your kitten may have an ear infection and ask for guidance in how to safely clean his ears.


Dental care begins in kittenhood, as you teach your kitten that brushing his teeth is not a personal affront. Start by getting your kitten used to having your fingers in his mouth. Rub them along his gums and teeth, and give him a treat. Then cover your fingers with gauze and do it again. You can get finger brushes from your veterinarian that fit around your finger; most cats tolerate them better than real toothbrushes. Add kitty toothpaste, which comes in flavors such as tuna — much better than mint!

Although most kittens have few, if any, problems with their teeth, brushing gives you a chance to stay abreast of any developing problems. Examine your kitten’s teeth for any signs of redness or pain as he loses his baby teeth and the adult teeth emerge. Your veterinarian might suggest removing a baby tooth that may cause discomfort or cause other teeth to come in abnormally.

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