Preventive Kitten Health Care

Whether your cat is about to give birth, you're adopting a new kitten or the neighborhood stray has just left a litter at your doorstep, it's important to know the basics of kitten health. Many kittens will not survive without help from people, even if their mother is present. Kittens need regular check-ups, vaccinations and a proper diet to ensure a happy and healthy future.

Veterinary Visits

Kittens should receive a health exam by a veterinarian by the time they are two months old. It's important that the vet check the kitten thoroughly, look for signs of illness and listen to the heart and lungs to make sure the kitten is developing properly. Many kittens, especially those born outdoors, should be seen early to prevent a flea or mite infestation. It's very common for both indoor and outdoor kittens to have worms. Tapeworms, hookworms and roundworms frequently reside in kittens and should be quickly treated by a vet.


When your kitten has his initial vet visit, you can ask for a dewormer and get the first in what may be a series of vaccines. Vaccines are critical to a young cat's health, as they boost the immune system and can help protect your kitten if exposed to a serious illness. Depending on geographical area, likelihood of contact with others animals and whether your kitten will remain indoors or go outside, the vaccinations may differ. Regardless of your specific factors, most vets agree that it's important to vaccinate against feline panleukopenia, otherwise known as cat distemper, feline viral rhinotracheitis, feline calicivirus and rabies. A combination shot containing the vaccine for all of these diseases should be available at your local vet's office.


Always feed your kitten food that is specifically made for young cats. Ad ult and senior cat food doesn't have enough of the protein, fat and vitamins kittens need for proper development. Kitten food should be given until six to nine months of age before switching to adult food. As your cat approaches one year, gradually work adult cat food into the mix of kitten food. This will prevent stomach aches and diarrhea that can result from a sudden change in diet.

Do not feed your kitten tuna or any fish that is not an ingredient within pre-packaged or canned kitten food. Fish may contain mercury, which can be deadly for kittens. Cow's milk from the grocery store can also be harmful for kittens. It can cause diarrhea and is not formulated for pets.

Spay or Neuter

If you don't plan to breed your cat, spaying or neutering before your kitten reaches sexual maturity can have many benefits. Kittens reach maturity between six and nine months, but many veterinarians recommend surgery between four and six months. Neutered male cats are less likely to spray, fight for territory, and develop testicular cancer in their later years. Spayed females will not go through heat cycles, are less likely to stray from home, and are less susceptible to certain cancers and pyometra, an often life-threatening infection of the uterus.