Cat and Kitten Vaccinations
Your cat needs vaccinations that will help protect them from common illnesses. While it isn’t compulsory for your cat to have vaccinations, it is certainly highly recommended for their health and wellbeing. Additionally, vaccinations are a condition of boarding for most reputable catteries and they are completely necessary if you want to travel abroad with your cat or kitten.
Cat vaccines can be divided into two different types: core and non-core. Core vaccines are recommended for all cats, and non-core vaccines are given depending on the risk to an individual cat. Discuss with your vet which vaccines are best suited to them.
What are the core vaccinations for cats?
Core vaccinations are those recommended for all cats. They’re designed to keep your pet safe and free from some very serious conditions, so it’s very important you get your cat vaccinated against these conditions as soon as possible.
- Feline Panleukopenia Virus. (Feline Infectious Enteritis or Feline Parvovirus). This is a highly contagious virus and can often be fatal, particularly for young kittens. The most common symptoms are vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, dehydration (even if they keep drinking), loss of appetite and, less commonly, nervous signs associated with brain damage.
- Feline Calicivirus. This virus causes cat flu (sneezing, nasal discharge, mouth ulcers and excess salivation/dribbling). Affected cats may be reluctant to eat and have a temperature.
- Feline Herpesvirus. This also causes cat flu, fever, sneezing and nasal discharge as well as ulcers on the eye. Chronic infection can result in nasal diseases.
What are the non-core vaccinations for cats?
You cat will only require non-core cat vaccinations if, for some reason, they are particularly at risk of infection and need extra protection. This can be if you’re thinking of breeding from your cats, for example, or if you’re planning to travel overseas with your cat or kitten.
Non-core vaccinations include:
Feline Leukaemia virus (FeLV) which is spread by close contact and can cause cancers, anaemia, vomiting and diarrhoea.
The rabies vaccination, which is required for pets travelling abroad under the Pet Travel Scheme.
When should i vaccinate my kitten?
Most vaccinations are best given to your cat when they are young. Your kitten should be vaccinated against the core serious disease as soon as they are ready; these kitten vaccinations will protect them as they’re growing and, with boosters, throughout their adulthood.
They’ll need two injections, 3-4 weeks apart, from around eight weeks of age. Double check the exact details with your vet, as timing can vary depending on the vaccine used. After they’ve had their complete course of vaccinations it’s highly recommended that you arrange booster injections at regular intervals to ensure sustained immunity.
Do cat vaccinations guarantee protection?
Although vaccinations can’t completely prevent infection if your cat has had overwhelming exposure to a particular virus or disease, any infection they do catch will be milder, and your cat will be less likely to spread infection to other cats.
Do cat vaccinations offer immediate protection?
Depending on the vaccine, there may be some delay in effectiveness. So if your cat needs to stay in a cattery, or you’re considering taking your cat abroad, make sure you do your homework and find out which vaccinations are needed well in advance.
Vaccines are designed to help your cat stay happy and healthy – so it’s best to get them carried out as soon as possible. As always, if you have any concerns about your cat’s health, including what vaccinations they may need, make an appointment to chat things over with your vet.
You can find more in-depth information about cat diseases and how they affect cats here.