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Since the quantity of proposed kitten shots grows, the entire idea of whether to vaccinate your kitten has turn into more and more debatable. A couple of years in the past, most cats and kittens were simply vaccinated against a couple infectious illnesses and people endorsed that these vaccines were necessary in order to safeguard their cats and kittens and eliminate the disease.

General Cat Care #1: Before You Bring Your Cat Home
You will need food, food dish, water bowl, interactive toys, brush, comb, safety cat collar, scratching post, litter and litter box.
General Cat Care #2: Feeding
An adult cat should be fed one large or two smaller meals each day. Kittens from 6 to 12 weeks need to be fed four times a day. Kittens from three to six months need to be fed three times a day. You can either feed specific meals, throwing away any leftover canned food after 30 minutes or free-feed dry food (keeping food out all the time).

Feed your cat a high-quality, brand-name kitten or cat food (avoid generic brands) two to three times a day. Kittens can be fed human baby food for a short time if they won’t eat kitten food softened by soaking in warm water. Use turkey or chicken baby food made for children six months and older. Gradually mix with cat food. Cow’s milk is not necessary and can cause diarrhea in kittens and cats. Provide fresh, clean water at all times. Wash and refill water bowls daily.

But today, as vaccines are produced for additional and more diseases, it is becoming clear that in a few cases vaccines can end up being more harmful than the illness which they were designed to protect against. Therefore should you vaccination your cat at all, and if so, which vaccines should you select?

There are actually five standard vaccines which are recommended for essentially all felines. These are:

– Distemper (Panleukopenia virus) – Rabies – FIE (Feline infectious enteritis) – FHV (Feline herpes virus, rhinotracheitis, 'cat flu') – FCV (Feline calicvirus, another type of 'cat flu')

Beyond those, a number of additional vaccines are available and may be offered to your cat. These include:

– FIV (Feline immunodeficiency virus, or 'feline AIDS'): recommended for aggressive cats, or felines dwelling with an aggressive cat. However this virus is not always effective.

– FeLV (Feline leukemia virus): advised for cats who spend time outdoors and mix with other cats, or who have contact with a cat known to have FeLV.

– Feline chlamydiosis: perhaps only necessary if the cat is known to be in contact with another cat who has the disease, although it may be given routinely in some geographical areas where generally there are many afflicted cats.

General Cat Care #3: Grooming
Most cats stay relatively clean and rarely need a bath, but they do need to be brushed or combed. Frequent brushing helps keep your cat’s coat clean, reduces the amount of shedding and cuts down on the incidence of hairballs
General Cat Care #4: Handling
To pick up your cat, place one hand behind the front legs and another under the hindquarters. Lift gently. Never pick up a cat by the scruff of the neck (behind the ears) or by the front legs without supporting the rear end.
General Cat Care #5: Housing
Cats should have a clean, dry place of their own in the house. Line your cat’s bed with a soft, warm blanket or towel. Be sure to wash the bedding often. Please keep your cat indoors. If your companion animal is allowed outside, he can contract diseases, get ticks or parasites, become lost or get hit by a car, hurt in a fight or poisoned. Also, cats prey on wildlife.

All of these vaccines can have side effects in some cases. The most common side effect is irritation at the site of the vaccine or minor health problems such as flu-like symptoms or cystitis, but sometimes felines experience additional serious side effects that can be fatal. These include anaphylactic shock and fibrosarcoma, a type of cancer that occurs rarely (approximately 4 in 10,000 cases).

In the event that you decide to administer cat shots yourself, it is very critical to study the instructions and adhere to them closely. A badly prepared or administered vaccine can be dangerous and might actually cause the disease that it was designed to prevent.

The vaccine companies recommend annual booster injections of many vaccines. Even if you decide to have your cat vaccinated once against a certain disease, you might decide not to follow up with annual boosters. Often, vaccines will protect a cat for life. Even if not, a vaccine should give protection for more than one year. Boosters of vaccines for either cats or people increase the risk of side effects and may not be as necessary as the medical profession used to believe.

Before making decisions regarding vaccination, check your cat health insurance policy. You may find that certain vaccinations are required in order for the insurance policy to remain valid. If you find that the policy requires vaccines that you are not comfortable with, you have a difficult decision to make. It may be time to change your pet health insurance company.

In the end, whether to vaccinate your cat is your own decision. Your veterinarian will have advice and if you trust your veterinarian you will want to follow them, but keep in mind that cat vaccinations are a subject on which nobody can be 100% certain.

Diane Dunn is a catlover and cook and has created a cat treat and cat food recipe book available at

General Cat Care #6: Identification
If allowed outdoors (again, we caution against it!), your cat needs to wear a safety collar and an ID tag. A safety collar with an elastic panel will allow your cat to break loose if the collar gets caught on something. An ID tag or an implanted microchip can help insure that your cat is returned if he or she becomes lost.
General Cat Care #7: Litter Box
All indoor cats need a litter box, which should be placed in a quiet, accessible location. A bathroom or utility room is a good place for your cat’s box. In a multi-level home, one box per floor is recommended. Avoid moving the box unless absolutely necessary. Then do so slowly, a few inches a day. Cats won’t use a messy, SMELLY litter box. Scoop solids out of the box at least once a day. Dump everything, wash with a mild detergent (don’t use ammonia) and refill at least once a week, less frequently if using clumping litter. Don’t use deodorants or scents in the litter or litter box (especially avoid lemon scent).
Updated: February 24, 2017 — 5:43 pm

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