Keep her healthy
Better safe than sorry
If you know what your kitten's like when she’s healthy, you'll be able to know more easily if she's not. A sleepy and weak kitten who turns her nose up at her food bowl may be a poorly kitten. Always believe what you see: kittens aren't known for feigning illness. After all, there’s no chance of a day off school!
Once you think you've spotted something, just keep an eye on her. If she's still struggling after a day or two then give the vet a call. Don’t be shy about it either. Vets would much rather be called out too soon than too late. And one last thing, non-prescribed medicines are a big no-no; if cuddling and kissing her better doesn't work then it's best to leave the rest to the professionals.
In case of serious injury
Cats are clever; they know not to jump in front of cars or bother big, scary dogs, but if your kitten is involved in an accident, the first thing to do is to keep calm. Examine the injury carefully. In many cases she'll be content to wait the discomfort out with plenty of love and attention, but if she's swallowed something, or has large wounds, bruises or burns, it's off to the vet you go.
Of course, most cat carers never have to deal with situations like this, but it's always best to be prepared.
Keep an eye on her nose
Cats have a much more acute sense of smell than people. By using their nose, they can tell who’s been through their territory and where they can find a tasty meal. If they like something or want to establish their territory, they’ll mark it with their own particular smell to show just who owns it.
Her nose is also a good indicator of general wellbeing. It'll usually be cool and moist but, if she seems to have a cold, has an encrusted nose, or sneezes a lot, try to take her to the vet as she may have cat flu. If she's not interested in her food (and let's face it, that's a pretty rare thing), it probably means that she's unable to smell it and therefore won’t eat. The only effective way to prevent cat flu is to have your little one vaccinated by the vet, and to have the vaccination repeated regularly. If you make sure you give her plenty of TLC on the way to and from the vet she'll soon learn to enjoy the trip!
A perfect navigation system
Kittens are born blind and deaf but their sense of smell is fully grown from the start, and helps them to home in on their mothers' teats immediately. Each kitten will then mark her own teat with her own special smell, so she knows where to go for her next meal. Later, this heightened sense of smell allows her to find her way back home if she wanders off or goes exploring. During weaning, a kitten’s sense of smell enables her to find different food and to make a clear distinction between the edible and the inedible. If she doesn’t like the smell of something, she just won’t eat it.
Just one sniff
As your kitten grows up, her nose will become one of the most important tools in her repertoire. A cat can get information about gender or preparedness for mating by ‘reading’ smells. When two cats meet, they’ll greet each other face-to-face in order to gather the smell information that will distinguish the ‘familiar’ from the ‘unfamiliar’. That’s why, on meeting, a kitten will usually look for you to contact her head first, before proudly presenting you with her backside.