Why Do You Need To Vaccinate Your Cat
Widespread use of vaccination prevents death and disease in millions of animals. Vaccines protect your pet from highly contagious and fatal diseases and improve your pets overall quality of life.
Indeed, the vaccine remains, to this day, the safest way to protect your animal from the most widespread diseases. Since vaccines contain living or dead bacterial substances, inactivated viral substances, or attenuated viral substances, they help the immune system to fight them later. With a few exceptions, animals that have been vaccinated are resistant to the disease if exposed to it.
Kitten Vaccination Schedule: A Guide For New Cat Owners
Randa is a writer & former assoc. digital content editor at the American Kennel Club. She’s also mom to 1 Corgi & 2 orange cats.
Congratulations on your new kitten! All of the snuggles, playtime, and endless joys of having a feline friend in your life are finally here.
As you cross off items on your new kitten checklist, one of the most important things you can do for your new family member is to take them to the veterinarian for their vaccinations.
Vaccinations are essential for protecting your kitten from certain illnesses and preventing the spread of disease. In this article, well walk you through kitten vaccine basics, tell you what to expect at your first check-up, and give you a sample cat vaccination schedule to follow.
How Kitten Vaccinations Work
Kittens receive a series of vaccines over an 8- to 12-week period beginning at between 6 and 8 weeks of age. Some vaccines might be given together in one injection that is called a combination vaccine. At your kitten’s first veterinary exam, your vet will discuss a vaccination schedule as well as other treatments, such as deworming and beginning parasite prevention.
The vaccine injection itself is typically not painful. Your kitten may feel a little pinch or sting, but many do not react at all.
At the first vaccine visit, your veterinarian will do an examination before vaccinating your kitten. Vaccines should never be given to a kitten with a fever or illness as the vaccine will not be effective. Giving a vaccine to a sick kitten can actually make her feel worse.
After a vaccine is administered, immunity is not immediate. It takes about seven to 10 days after the second vaccination to become effective. However, kittens with remaining maternal antibodies for that disease will not be affected by the vaccine. There is no way to be certain if a kitten still has maternal antibodies, so boosters are necessary. True immunity is uncertain until about 16 to 18 weeks of age, or until all kitten boosters are completed. Avoid exposing your kitten to unknown animals until all vaccinations have been given.
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A Free Dog Can Cost You Around $370
When you first get a dog, you have to take him or her in for numerous tests and vaccinations. For a male dog, it can cost pet owners around $300, and for female dogs over $400! Be informed before you “buy” your next free dog. Better yet, play it safe and adopt one. We do all the tests, spaying and neutering, and vaccinations for you — all for our adoption fee of $200. That’s a savings of about $125 to $225 by adopting.
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Exercise And Play Supplies
The right exercise and play supplies will support your kitten bonding with you, which helps promote their social health, and keeping your kitten active contributes to their physical and mental health so you can enjoy more years together.
Plan to stock your home with the following supplies:
When you first welcome your kitten home, be sure to have a few cat toys already on hand, and as you get to know them, consider purchasing a few different kinds of toys to learn more about their play preferences. Cat toys can range anywhere from $1 to more than $20.
A cat perch or tree can give your kitten the ability to escape daily life and get away from any stressors. Perches and cat trees cost $50$150+.
Scratching helps cats keep their nails healthy and is a part of their grooming routine. Giving your kitten an appropriate place to scratch can help save them from scratching something they shouldnt. A scratching post costs around $25$50.
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What If I Adopted My Kitten
If you adopt a kitten or cat from us, they’ll be vaccinated before they leave our care. That’s one of the reasons we charge an adoption fee when we rehome an animal.
Some kittens may be rehomed before they’re ready for their second set of vaccinations. If this is the case, we’ll let you know and may arrange for you and your kitten to come back at a later date. Otherwise, you can make arrangements with your local vet.
If you’re looking to buy a cat from a breeder, take a look at our advice on what to look for when buying a kitten.
When Are Kitten Shots Given
Did you know a kitten’s disease-fighting ability begins with a healthy mother cat? According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals , kittens take in disease-fighting antibodies from the mother cat’s milk when they nurse. Most kittens are weaned by around 8 weeks and receive their first vaccinations around the age of 6 to 8 weeks. Boosters will continue to be given every three to four weeks until the kitten reaches 16 weeks old or until the full series of vaccinations are complete.
If you adopt a cat older than that, your vet will help you identify what vaccines are recommended, what age you should begin with the shots and how long they’ll need to be given.
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How Is Rabies Transmitted
Weve too long underestimated the threat that rabies poses to cats. There are more laws governing the need for rabies in dogs, the domestic animals most often associated with the virus. Cats seem more innocuous, perhaps due to their size, and are thus given freer reign in outdoor situations. Both of these are risk factors. A single bite from infected wildlife can transmit the disease.
The animals that pose the greatest threat for infecting a cat with rabies are bats, foxes, raccoons, and skunks. Rabies transmission is achieved when the saliva of an infected creature enters the bloodstream. This typically happens in altercations when a cat is bitten. Given the self-grooming habits of all animals, it is less likely but possible for rabies to be transmitted through a particularly violent scratch wound. The incubation period of a rabies infection whether it is furious or paralytic in nature is very fast.
Depending on the distance from the bite site to the brain, where it is free to wreak havoc on the nervous system, symptoms and signs of rabies in cats can take as little as a week to manifest. No matter how unlikely your cat is to encounter a woodland or urban carrier, a cat with an up-to-date rabies vaccination stands the best chance of survival.
What Is The Kitten Vaccination Schedule
All kittens need vaccinations to help keep them healthy. Vaccinations, by definition, protect your kitten from contracting specific diseases. Cat vaccinations are divided into two types:
- Core cat vaccinations are those that protect against especially common and/or particularly dangerous diseases and are recommended for all kittens and adult cats.
- Non-core vaccinations are not necessarily recommended for all cats. Instead, these vaccines are recommended only for those cats that are at high risk of infection. In the case of non-core vaccinations, your cats lifestyle must be evaluated to determine the risk of disease and whether the risk associated with vaccination is greater than the risk of your cat getting the disease.
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Vaccines For Dogs And Cats
First, what is a vaccine? According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals:
Vaccines help prepare the body’s immune system to fight the invasion of disease-causing organisms. Vaccines contain antigens, which look like the disease-causing organism to the immune system but don’t actually cause disease. When the vaccine is introduced to the body, the immune system is mildly stimulated. If a dog is ever exposed to the real disease, his immune system is now prepared to recognize and fight it off entirely or reduce the severity of the illness.
A pets vaccine requirements depend on his or her age and region of residence. As with young children, puppies and kittens need a few rounds of vaccines to jumpstart their immunity with boosters every year or every few years afterward.
The core vaccinations according to the American Animal Hospital Association for dogs include:
Veterinarians may also recommend vaccines against distemper and feline infectious peritonitis.
Some people with indoor cats opt for less vaccines some people dont care and want to protect their cat no matter what, said Dr. Andy McCord, veterinarian at Gainesway Small Animal Clinic in Lexington, Ky.
If your pet spends a significant portion of time outdoors, recommendations for those boosters could change, depending on disease prevalence in the area.
Risks Of Vaccines For Kittens
Although there are some risks when vaccinating your kitten, theyre very minor. Similar to humans, kittens who receive vaccines may experience some initial side effects, such as a low fever, decreased appetite, localized swelling, or tiredness.
These symptoms, however, usually start shortly after the vaccine and last only a few days. If your kitten continues to experience side effects, you should contact your veterinarian.
Some kittens may experience an allergic reaction to a vaccine, but this is very rare. An allergic reaction can cause itchiness, hives, and swelling of the face, so if you see any of these symptoms, youll want to take your cat to the vet immediately.
Finally, in other rare situations, cats can develop feline injection-site sarcomas, or FISS. This type of cancer is thought to be caused by persistent swelling from the spot where a cat was vaccinated. FISS tumors can be removed as part of treatment.
Overall, veterinarians and feline medical organizations like the AAHA and AAFP agree that the benefits of kitten vaccines outweigh the risks.
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How Do Vaccines Work
Vaccines work by stimulating the body’s immune system to recognize and fight a particular microorganism such as a virus, bacteria, or other infectious organism. Once vaccinated, the animal’s immune system is then primed, or prepared to react to a future infection with that microorganism. In other words, the vaccine mimics a true infection so that the immune system can better protect the body in the future.
“the vaccine will help the body prevent infection or lessen the severity of infection and promote rapid recovery.”
Depending on the disease, the vaccine will help the body prevent infection or lessen the severity of infection and promote rapid recovery.
While a vaccine can prevent illness, it cannot block microorganisms from getting into the body. This means that sometimes a cat may not look sick thanks to the vaccine, but the cat can still spread the invading microorganisms to other cats. This is not a major consideration in the pet cat but may be important in the breeding colony.
Do All Kittens Have Worms
Not all kittens have worms , but most of them do. The same milk that protects nursing kittens from disease and provides nutrition also carries intestinal worms, so drinking mothers milk can transfer worms to young kittens shortly after birth. Infection can occur even earlier – before kittens are born – because some intestinal parasites are transmitted to kittens through the blood stream while they are still in the womb. Since kittens can become infected so early and since intestinal parasites can cause severe illness, treatment needs to begin when the kitten is only a couple of weeks old.
A microscopic examination of a stool sample will identify which worms the kitten is infected with so a specific treatment plan can be prescribed. Since many kittens are infected with the more common intestinal worms, your veterinarian may routinely administer a broad-spectrum dewormer that is safe and effective against several species of intestinal worms. This medication, which kills adult worms, is given every 2-3 weeks to target the most susceptible stage of the worms lifecycle. For other types of intestinal parasites, different medications and treatment intervals are required.
“Not all kittens have worms, but most of them do.”
There are other less common parasites that can infect kittens, such as coccidia and giardia that require special treatment. Both of these parasites can be identified with a stool sample examined under the microscope.
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Cat & Kitten Vaccinations
A vaccination appointment is a chance for your cat to get a thorough physical health check, as well as offering them protection against a range of diseases.
A routine procedure, a vaccination appointment is more than just a jab its a chance for your cat to get a thorough physical health check, as well as offering them protection against a range of diseases that can be debilitating, or even kill.
Vaccination appointments are performed by a vet, and should be a routine part of the care of all cats throughout their life even house cats. Although house cats may be less exposed to disease, many of the diseases we can vaccinate against are hardy, and can survive outside of a cat for some time. This means they can be transmitted inside the house, on people or objects, and are still a risk to cats via indirect exposure.
Keeping your annual vaccination appointment every year is really important for both you, and your cat. If you would like to learn more about vaccinating your cat, contact your local Vets4Pets practice here.
How Much Do Cat Vaccinations Cost
Cat vaccinations may be core or non core vaccinations. The core vaccinations should be administered to all felines, while the non core vaccinations should be discussed with the vet and he will establishif these are necessary. The costs of vaccinations may vary according toseveral factors, including the type of vaccine administered, the vets fees and the clinic where the vaccine is administered.
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Cost Of Rabies Vaccine For Cats
If you’re taking your cat abroad, they’ll need a rabies vaccine to return back to the UK. We found that a rabies vaccine costs around £63.2 on average in the UK, but prices in our study ranged from £46 up to £78. Some vet practices offer a “pet passport” package which includes the rabies vaccine and costs from £125. Top tip: be sure your pet is microchipped before getting the rabies vaccine so that the vaccine can be properly traced and linked to your cat.
When Should My Kitten Be Vaccinated
Generally, kittens are vaccinated for the first time at between six and eight weeks of age and booster doses are given at ten to twelve weeks and again at fourteen to sixteen weeks. A kitten will not be fully protected until seven to ten days after the second vaccination. Under specific circumstances, your veterinarian may advise an alternative regime .
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What Diseases Can Vaccinations Protect Against
Cats are commonly vaccinated against:
- Cat flu
- Feline infectious enteritis
- Feline leukaemia virus
Your vet can advise which vaccinations your cat or kitten will need to help protect them from infectious diseases. When you get your kitten, one of the first things you should do is register them with a local vet, who will be able to carry out the vaccinations your kitten needs.
What Other Vaccines Are Recommended For Cats
Your vet may also recommend other vaccines for your cat, depending on your area and whether or not your pet goes outdoors:
So, the total cost of the recommended vaccines is around $155, according to veterinary clinics. Your veterinarian will be able to tell you if these vaccines are necessary, depending on the clinical examination he will do and your cats lifestyle.
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What Shots Do Kittens Need
If you are adopting a kitten, a common question is when to get her vaccinated and which shots constitute the bare minimum. As with dogs, there are certain core vaccines for cats that can provide immunity against a combination of preventable health issues. The ASPCAs recommendation is that essential cat vaccinations include two causes of respiratory disease namely feline herpesvirus and calicivirus along with distemper and rabies.
Catsters resident veterinarian suggests the FVRCP combo vaccine for kittens be administered three times in total during their first 16 weeks of life, along with a booster at 1 year of age. The FVRCP injection offers protection against three of the ASPCAs core cat health issues:
- FVR: feline rhinotracheitis, which is another name for the herpes virus
- C: feline calicivirus
- P: feline panleukopenia, another name for distemper
That leaves rabies. Dr. Barchas is adamant that there is no disease that should be more dreaded, a dictum he applies to cats across the board. Do indoor cats need shots? Unless you live in an impregnable compound sealed off hermetically from all contact with the outside world, yes. A previously vaccinated cat who is infected with rabies may be subjected to six-month quarantine. For unvaccinated cats, rabies, once diagnosed, is fatal. Why risk your cats life?