And what shots does my kitten need when she can go outside?
Dear Dr. Baum–
My kitten is four months old. I want to let her go outside, but we live in a city (Los Angeles), and are concerned about her catching diseases, and being safe in general. We are on a quiet street, and our other cats have been fine about not getting into trouble with traffic and the occasional raccoon, but we are concerned about when it would be safe to let her go outside. Also, what shots does she need?
Los Angeles, CA
Dear Marsha —
In your environment you can start letting your kitten explore the environs around your home with supervision at any time. In order for the kitten to grow into a cat he or she will need to develop the survival techniques to last a lifetime. It is important that you provide a comfortable and interesting environment in your home as an inducement for the kitty to voluntarily spend a lot of time with you as your pet and companion. The younger the kitty, the more likely it is that it will be more cautious when exploring the unknown and will initially stay closer to the house.
You should definitely have your cat spayed or neutered by six months of age both as a public service to population control as well as for the health of the cat. Neutered male cats stay closer to home, get involved in less fights and are less frequently struck by automobiles. Spayed female cats can no longer serve as the amorous attraction for the hearts and minds of the toms, thus causing a lowering of hostilities during breeding seasons. Outdoor cats should receive the standard 4 in1 shot for Feline Panleukopenia and respiratory diseases as well as vaccinations for Rabies and Feline Leukemia (FeLV).
NOTE: For another take on the question, see also, At what age can I safely let my kitten outside? From a kitten owner in Scotland