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How Old Do Kittens Need To Be To Get Shots

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Should Rabies Be A Core Cat Vaccine

How To Raise A Kitten

However, not everyone agrees. Dr. Donna Alexander, administrator of Cook County Animal and Rabies Control says that rabies vaccines for cats should be considered core just as they are for dogs. Rabies has got to be core for cats, says Dr. Richard Ford, emeritus professor of medicine, North Carolina State University. And, in fact, over half the states require rabies vaccines for cats by law.

Most people think their cats are strictly indoors and never can be exposed, Dr. Alexander adds. Thats a fallacy. We have bats found in homes. And many of those people have cats, and those cats dont go out. They find the bat and even deliver the dead or nearly dead bat to family members as they would a mouse.

Also, so many mostly or exclusively outdoor cats may not be vaccinated at all, and they have a potentially high exposure to skunks, raccoons and other wildlife, which may carry rabies.

Based on the CDC recommendation, if an unvaccinated cat comes into contact with any animal thought to be rabid, that unvaccinated cat will be quarantined or euthanized.

Vaccine-related reactions due to the rabies vaccine are about one in a million and are likely not life threatening, Dr. Alexander says. Rabies kills 100 percent of the time, not to mention that anyone exposed to a cat thought to have rabies requires painful and expensive rabies desensitization themselves.

Are There Any Side Effects I Should Watch For After Cat Vaccination

Most cats show no ill side effect from receiving a cat vaccine. If your cat does have a reaction, they are usually minor and short-lived. However, you should still be on the lookout for the following symptoms that might indicate negative side effects from a cat vaccine:

  • Fever
  • Swelling and redness around the injection site
  • Lameness
  • Hives

If you suspect your cat is experiencing any ill side effects from his or her cat vaccine, call us immediately so we can help you to determine whether any special care is needed.

Kitten Vaccination Schedule: A Guide For New Cat Owners

Reviewed by Dr. Sarah Wooten, DVM.

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 kitten examinations and 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.

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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.

Why Should I Get My Indoor Cat Vaccinated

What Vaccinations Does My Kitten Need?

Though you may not think your indoor cat requires vaccinations, by law cats must have certain vaccinations in many states. For example, a common law requires cats over the age of 6 months to be vaccinated against rabies. In return for the vaccinations, your veterinarian will provide you with a vaccination certificate, which should be stored in a safe place.

When considering your cats health, its always prudent to be cautious, as cats are often curious by nature. Our vets recommend core vaccinations for indoor cats to protect them against diseases they could be exposed to if they happen to escape the safety of your home.

Cat Vaccines

There are two basic types of vaccinations for cats.

Core vaccinations should be given to all cats, as they are essential for protecting them against the following common but serious feline conditions:


Rabies kills many mammals every year. These vaccinations are required by law for cats in most states.

Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia Typically known as the distemper shot, this combination vaccine protects against feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia.

Feline herpesvirus type I

Non-core vaccinations are appropriate for some cats depending on their lifestyle. Your vet will provide advice about which non-core vaccines your cat should have. These offer protection against:

Feline immunodeficiency virus and Feline Leukemia


Chlamydophila felis

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What Is The Feline Distemper Vaccine Called

The term Feline Panleukopenia, or Feline Parvovirus, is more likely to be used than Feline Distemper. The vaccination is usually given as a combination vaccine, in the form of the FVRCP vaccination, and so it may be included in general terminology like shots, vaccine boosters etc. For more detail on precisely what vaccination your cat is being given, you should always discuss the details with your own veterinarian.

Kitten Vaccines Or Primary Course

  • If your cat/kitten has never had a vaccine before, they will need *two injections 3-4 weeks apart this is usually at 9 and 12 weeks old.
  • They will be fully protected 3-4 weeks after their final injection.
  • Protection lasts 1 year, after which theyll need a booster.

*Some kittens need a third injection at 15 weeks.

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Titer Testing For Cats

A titer is a test that is done using a sample of your cats blood to measure the level of antibodies to a specific disease. Antibodies are proteins made by the body as a response to antigens. Antigens are foreign substances or stimuli to the body, such as viruses, bacteria, or vaccinations, that cause the body to mount an immune response.

Vaccine titers are used as a screening tool to determine whether or not to revaccinate for a particular disease. If a vaccine titer comes back high, this indicates that your cat, if exposed to that disease, should be able to fight it off.

Are Kitten Vaccinations And Cat Vaccinations Necessary

New Kitten? 10 things you NEED to know!

The answer is yes. A kitten or cat owner is responsible for the wellbeing of their feline friend – this includes happiness and longevity of life. Cat vaccinations are integral component in the longevity equation. Kitten vaccinations and cat vaccinations are medically and scientifically proven to prevent various insidious diseases.

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Vaccines Your Kitten Should Have


Adopting a new kitten means going through many milestones together, including bringing your cat home for the first time, litter training her and introducing her to other animals to name a few. Other important first steps will take place in your veterinarian’s office. From vaccinations to spaying and neutering, being a new pet parent comes with new responsibilities.

To help you prepare, here’s a list of the most common kitten vaccinations vets recommend and why they’re important for your new family member. Educate yourself first, and then work with your vet to create a vaccine schedule right for your family.

More About Vaccinating Your Cat

Kittens are old enough to be vaccinated once they are 8-9 weeks old. They will have an initial injection, and then a second about 3 weeks later, as well as a thorough health check, and discussion about all aspects of kitten-care, including neutering, flea and worm protection, diet and behaviour. This is known as the primary course. Kittens should then have an annual vaccination appointment each year, throughout their lives, in order keep their immunity topped up and maintain protection.

For adult cats, if you are not sure if your cat has had vaccinations previously, or if you know that they have not had a vaccination appointment within the last 12 months, your cat may need to restart their vaccinations with a primary course, just as if they were a kitten. Adult cats can start the primary course at any time, but if you know your cat is currently not protected by vaccination, the course should be started as soon as possible.

Although your cat will need a vaccination appointment every year, not all the vaccines will be given at every appointment. This is because different vaccines last for different amounts of time, and the need for some vaccinations may be lifestyle dependent. Your vet will be able to advise on the best schedule for your cat.

The medical exam also allows the vet to check if there are any visible reasons to delay vaccination, for example if your cat is already fighting an active infection.

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Do Kittens Need Vaccines

They certainly do! There may be some buzz around anti-vaccination in the media at the moment, but any vet or veterinary professional will insist that vaccinations are an absolute necessity when it comes to keeping your kitten in good health.

Your kitten will need a primary vaccination course when theyre young, followed by annual boosters to help maintain their level of protection throughout their life.

How Often Do Cats Need Shots

What Shots Do Kittens Need 8 Weeks

Generally, adult cats need shots every one to three years depending on their lifestyle, health assessment, and the vets recommendation. However, adult cats that had their vaccinations and boosters already, do not need to get new shots so often. Kittens are more at risk for different kinds of diseases and therefore need to get shots more often.

Knowing which vaccines your cat needs and the proper age to administer them gives you a great chance of protecting your cat for a long time. Vaccines can help strengthen their immune system by producing necessary antibodies and keep bacterial infections and viruses away.

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Which Vaccines Do Kittens Need

When you bring your kitten to the vets for their vaccines, theyll be treated against:

Feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus – the diseases that most often lead to Cat Flu.

Feline infectious enteritis – also known as feline parvovirus or panleukopenia, this is a highly contagious disease thats often fatal to infected cats.

Feline leukaemia virus – an untreatable virus that affects the immune system, leading to secondary problems.

You may have heard that these conditions are rare in the UK. Theyre rare because of vaccination. Vaccination may not have a 100% success rate, but itll drastically improve your cats chances of avoiding a nasty disease or infection, thats why its recommended for all kittens, or adult cats whove fallen behind with their protection.

Myth: Vaccines Do More Harm Than Good

Every responsible cat parent is right to make an informed decision about whats best for their pet as an individual. However, when weighing up the pros and cons of vaccination, its relevant to know the benefits far outweigh the risks.

Diseases such as cat flu, distemper, and feline leukemia are still out there and have life-changing consequences. Balance this against the risks of vaccination which can be divided into common-but-mild reactions and rare-but-serious, as outlined below.

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Is My Kitten Protected After Their First Round Of Shots

Until they have received all of their vaccinations , your kitten will not be fully vaccinated. Once all of their initial vaccinations have been completed, your kitten will be protected against the diseases or conditions covered by the vaccines.

If youd like to allow your kitten outdoors before they have been vaccinated against all the diseases listed above, we recommend keeping them restricted to low-risk areas, like your own backyard.

Myth: Indoor Cats Dont Need To Be Vaccinated

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Some of the nastier viruses, such as feline panleukopenia virus, are equivalent to a super-villain in terms of toughness. They can survive on sidewalks in all weathers for long periods of time. If you walk on the virus, you can bring it indoors on your shoes, so not even indoor cats are safe.

Therein lies the crunch. An indoor cat is at low risk but not no risk. However, your veterinarian will risk asses the cat and may opt out of vaccinating against conditions that require close contact to spread, such as feline leukemia virus.

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Why Rabies Vaccinations Are Important

Cat vaccinations, especially for indoor cats, are often overlooked. However, a rabies vaccination is an important part of keeping your cat healthy. If your feline friend goes outside, a rabies vaccination is an absolute necessity. Rabies is transmitted from an infected animal through a bite or scratch, so just a small scuffle with an infected animal could pose a threat to your cat. Unfortunately, there is no effective treatment for cats who develop rabies, so prevention is the only way to protect your pet. A simple vaccination once a year can protect your kitten from a potentially life-threatening disease.

What Are Cat Booster Shots

Depending on your cats current health and lifestyle, your vet may suggest a booster shot. Furthermore, vets may require a booster shot later on. Booster shots can provide more antibodies in your cats body that will enable it to fight diseases.

Moreover, cats that are fully vaccinated since they were kittens will receive their booster shot every 3 years especially if they just stay indoors. However, if your cat always stays outside, it means that booster shots can be done more regularly. It will help your cat be protected from the outside world.

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What Shots Do Cats Need

Cats should receive four core vaccinations to protect themselves from highly contagious viruses. These are the shots that your cats need:

  • Calicivirus shot: This virus is highly contagious and causes problems in the upper respiratory system of your cat. It can eventually lead to gum sores, conjunctivitis, and lameness.
  • Feline Herpesvirus shot: It is another contagious virus that spreads through sneezing, inhalation of droplets, sharing of food and water bowl, and sharing of the litter box. It can cause infections to the upper respiratory system of your cat.
  • Panleukopenia shot: This virus can cause high fever, vomiting, and sometimes, sudden death. A distemper shot is known to be effective in fighting this virus.
  • Rabies shot: This shot is required because rabies cannot only harm your pet, it can also cause death to humans. Rabies virus is passed on most often through bites and scratches.

There are bacterial infections and viruses that can cause serious illness and even death to your cat. Certain kinds of vaccines were created to fight those diseases. These shots are needed by cats in a specific dose and age.

Vaccines can protect your cat from:

  • Bordetella bronchiseptica FeLV
  • Rabies

Distemper Vaccine Side Effects

What Shots Do Kittens Need 8 Weeks

Side effects to Feline Distemper vaccination are rare and usually very minor. They include transient episodes of dullness, with mild fever.

Occasionally, there may be minor swelling and discomfort at the injection site. As with any injected product, allergic anaphylactic vaccine reactions can occur, with more serious signs. This reaction, however, is extremely rare. As a veterinarian qualified for over thirty years, I have never witnessed this after a cat vaccination against Panleukopenia.

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Safe Age For Vaccinations

To help keep kittens healthy, most veterinarians agree on a set of important vaccinations, including rabies. Some vaccinations, like feline distemper and calicivirus, are usually started when kittens are 6 weeks old, and then boostered two to three times. But rabies vaccinations are a little different. Most vets don’t like to give a rabies vaccination until a kittens is 12 to 16 weeks old, and usually not at the same time as other vaccinations. If kittens are vaccinated earlier than 12 weeks, they may have a reaction to the vaccine or may not develop the right antibodies. Unlike the other vaccinations your kitten needs, a rabies vaccination doesn’t need a booster, but it does need to be repeated either every year or every three years, depending on the type of vaccination your veterinarian uses.

Cat Vaccinations : Everything You Need To Know

When it comes to cat vaccinations, you cant just give all cats the same shots. You may hear conflicting opinions about what your cat needs and what will keep your furry friend safe from disease. This can be confusing, especially if youre a new cat parent. With that in mind, weve put together a short guide on cat vaccinations.

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What Are Ear Mites

Ear mites are tiny parasites that live in the ear canal of cats where they cause itching. The most common sign of ear mite infection is vigorous and persistent scratching of the ears or shaking of the head. Sometimes the outer ear canal will appear dirty and contain black debris.

Your veterinarian will examine the ear canal with an otoscope that magnifies the tiny mites, or will take a small sample of the black debris and examine it under a microscope. Although the mites may crawl out of the ear canals for short periods, they spend the majority of their lives within the protection of the ear canal.

Ear mites are easily transmitted between cats and dogs by direct contact. Kittens will usually become infected if their mother has ear mites. If one pet in the household has ear mites, it is advised to treat all of your pets. Successive applications of topical medication to the kittens ear or skin will eliminate ear mites .

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