Vaccinations and Your Cat

Kittens are vulnerable to any number of illnesses and disorders. Their vulnerability can vary depending on whether they’re raised with multiple pets in the house or whether they’re allowed to romp outdoors.

The best defense, as they say, is a good offense. Vaccinations can prevent some of the most serious and common illnesses that can afflict your cat. Some of the preventable diseases are highly contagious. Some are even deadly.

In some cases, vaccinations may not only be recommended, they may be required by law. Your veterinarian will know the local requirements, but in general, you can expect your veterinarian to recommend the following regimen of vaccinations.

Feline Distemper.   Is a condition caused by the Panleukopenia Virus.  The Feline Panleukopenia Virus causes symptoms of fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures.  Because Panluekopenia Virus is usually fatal in young unvaccinated kittens, this vaccine is one among four core vaccines recommended by veterinarians.
Feline Herpesvirus-1 and Feline Calicivirus. These vaccines can be delivered with the same dose as the distemper vaccine. Also referred to as core vaccines, these medications are designed to ward off two upper-respiratory infections in cats.
Rabies.   This disorder is an infection of your cat’s brain and nervous system. Disease-carrying mammals such as bats or skunks can infect your cat through a bite. All mammals, including humans, can be infected with this disease. Rabies is considered a core vaccine.
Feline leukemia. Though not among the core vaccines, this is frequently recommended, particularly for cats that spend a lot of time outside, as well as for kittens. The virus can impair your cat’s immune system and cause certain types of cancer. It can certainly be fatal.
Those are among the more common vaccines recommended, but they are by no means the only ones that are available. Most are delivered through an injection, but some can be administered nasally. Your veterinarian can recommend which vaccines your cat should receive, or may be required to receive, depending on the laws in your region.

When should vaccines be given?  

The schedule for delivering these potentially life-saving medicines may vary with the particular vaccine. In general, kittens start vaccinations when they’re 6 to 8 weeks old, with different vaccines (or doses of the same vaccine) administered at intervals of three or four weeks until they are about 16 weeks old.

Rabies vaccines are typically a single dose given between 12 and 16 weeks. Revaccinations typically begin after your cat’s first year.

Unvaccinated adult cats, or kittens older than 16 weeks, typically receive their shots in two doses three or four weeks apart.

Be sure to be proactive about protecting your cat’s health by staying on top of its vaccination schedule, with the help of your veterinarian. That includes scheduling well-pet exams.

Tips to Take Away

Be prepared to start your kitten’s vaccination regimen as early as 6 weeks of age.
Vaccinating your cat can prevent many serious and potentially fatal diseases.
While some vaccines are recommended, the law in your area may require others.
Learn more about the role Royal Canin’s Feline Health Nutrition can play in helping your kitten maintain a healthy lifestyle post-vaccination.

Vaccines & Vaccination Schedule for Cats & Kittens—Drs. Foster and Smith Pet Education
Vaccination Guidelines—American Associatin of Feline Practitioners
What vaccines does my kitten or cat need and how often?—Banfield Pet Hospital
Cat Vaccinations—PetMD
Head Cold in Cats—PetMD
Feline Calicivirus Infection in Cats—PetMD
Coronavirus in Cats—PetMD
Distemper in Cats—PetMD
Rabies in Cats—PetMD