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When Do Kittens Need Their First Shots

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When Should Kittens Be Vaccinated

New Kitten? 10 things you NEED to know!

Your kitten will need two sets of vaccinations to get them started – their first set at nine weeks old and a second booster set at three months old. After this, kittens and cats usually need ‘booster’ vaccinations once a year.

Until your kitten is fully vaccinated , you should keep him or her inside.

Why Does My Kitten Need More Than One Vaccination

Immediately after birth, a kitten receives a temporary form of immunity through the colostrum, which is the milk produced by mother cats shortly after birth, laden with protective antibodies. This first milk is produced only for a few days after birth and contains proteins called maternal antibodies. For about 24-48 hours after birth, the kitten’s intestine allows absorption of these antibodies directly into the blood stream. This passive immunity protects the kitten during its first few weeks of life when its immune system is immature, but in order to remain protected against these diseases, the kitten must produce its own, longer-lasting active immunity.

“In order to remain protected against diseases, the kitten must produce its own, longer-lasting active immunity.”

Vaccinations stimulate active immunity, but they have to be given at just the right time. As long as the mother’s antibodies are present in the kittens bloodstream, they prevent the immune system from responding effectively to the vaccines. When a kitten is ready to respond to vaccinations depends on the level of immunity in the mother cat, the amount of antibody absorbed by the nursing kitten, and the general health and nutrition of the kitten.

To keep up the cats immunity through adulthood, vaccines are repeated once every 1-3 years depending on individual circumstances and vaccine type.

How Much Do Cat Vaccinations Cost

Prices can vary from practice to practice and costs will depend on which vaccinations your cat or kitten receives. Speak to your vet to see if they offer a health care plan for your pet. These allow you to spread the cost of preventative veterinary treatment, such as regular health checks, annual vaccinations and flea and worm treatments. We might be able to help with vet costs if you meet our eligibility criteria.

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Keep A Happy Home With Feliway

A calm, supporting environment can help your cat feel safe, happy and healthy. Using a FELIWAY OPTIMUM Diffuser in the rooms where your cat spends the most time can help to support them, by releasing calming messages that reduce kitty stress and prevent signs of discomfort such as spraying, scratching or hiding.

What Are Cat Vaccinations

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Several serious feline-specific diseases afflict many cats every year. To protect your kitten from contracting a preventable condition, its critical to have them vaccinated. Its equally imperative to follow up your kittens first vaccinations with regular booster shots during their lifetime, even if you expect Fluffy to be an indoor companion.

The aptly named booster shots boost your cats protection against a variety of feline diseases after the effects of the initial vaccine wear off. There are booster shots for different vaccines given on specific schedules. Your vet can provide advice on when you should bring your cat back for more booster shots.

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Does My Kitten Need Injections Immediately After They Are Born

At birth, kittens are protected by the antibodies passed on by the mother through her rst milk . They face a critical period when the concentration from the mother is no longer enough to protect against viruses but is still high enough to prevent effective vaccination. During this time a kitten is most vulnerable to infection.

How Often Do My Kittens Need A Vaccine

It is recommended that kittens receive the core FVRCP vaccine at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age. The reason the vaccines are repeated is to boost the immune response. Ideally, the final vaccine is given around or after 16 weeks, to ensure that the maternal antibodies have left the system. Rabies can be given after 12 weeks of age and is usually given at the 16-week vaccine appointment.

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What Other Vaccines Should I Consider

Your vet may also discuss the rabies vaccine with you. Whether this is necessary will depend on your kittens lifestyle and if you have any plans to travel with them. For example, if you wish to travel with your kitten within the EU, the rabies vaccine is mandatory.

Making sure your kitten has the right vaccinations at the right age, is one of the most important things you can do to protect their health throughout their life.

Why Your Indoor Cat Needs To Be Vaccinated

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Many states have laws that make certain vaccinations mandatory for cats, even if you think your indoor kitty doesn’t require them. As an example, lots of states have a law stating that all cats must be given the rabies vaccine by the time they are 6 months old. After your cat receives their vaccine your vet will provide you with a certificate that states your cat was given the required shots.

There is 2 types of vaccines that are available for cats one is ‘core vaccines’ the other is ‘lifestyle vaccines’.

Veterinarians recommend that all indoor cats should be given core vaccinations to keep them protected from a large range of extremely contagious diseases, so they are safe from illnesses if they escape from your house, go for a grooming or if they have to stay at a boarding facility, etc.

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What Are The Necessary Shots For Kittens

Kittens and cats both typically receive the same vaccines. For most, this means protection against Cat Flu , Feline Panleukopaenia Virus, and Feline Leukaemia Virus . These are known as the core vaccines as they are the ones that protect against diseases that can cause significant health issues in our kitty population. While this may seem like a lot of jabs, luckily, most vets can administer these in one single injection .

There are also a number of non-core vaccines, which the majority do not receive. These include Rabies, Chlamydia felis, and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus .

1. Cat Flu

Signs of cat flu include runny eyes, sneezing, and a failure to thrive. Some kittens can become very ill and may pass away if severely affected. Cat Flu is highly contagious, so if one kitten in the litter is affected, the other will likely start to show signs soon. Frustratingly, even those that recover from flu will be infected for life and can suffer from flare-ups throughout their lifetime, especially at times of stress.

2. Feline Panleukopenia Virus

Also known as Feline Distemper, Panleukopaenia is akin to the better-known Parvovirus in puppies. It makes kittens very unwell and symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and a reduced appetite. The mortality rate is high, and, as with other viruses, there is no cure. This means that affected kittens and cats are managed with intensive supportive care, usually in a hospital setting, hoping they will pull through.

4. Rabies

When Can You Vaccinate A Kitten

According to the VCA Hospitals, kittens have passive immunity from antibody absorption from their mother through the intestine for 24 to 48 hours after birth. This protects them against disease during the first few weeks of life but they need to build longer-lasting active immunity in order to remain protected against these diseases. Vaccines promote active immunity, but they must be given at the correct time.

Because it’s impossible to predict when a kitten will lose its short-term immunity, a series of vaccines spaced at regular intervals boost the cat’s chances of developing active immunity. The aim is to administer at least two vaccines during the critical window after the kitten loses maternal immunity before exposure to infectious disease.

Kittens need vaccine boosters every one to three years to maintain active, long-lasting immunity.

Talk to your veterinarian about your kittens lifestyle and discuss their kitten vaccination schedule to determine whats best for your pet.

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Frequency Of Core Vaccinations

Kittens under 6 months of age are most susceptible to infectious diseases, so they are considered a primary focus of vaccination recommendations.

Maternal antibodies passed on from the mother are meant to confer some degree of protection against diseases, but they also interfere with, or even inactivate, the bodys response to vaccination.

For this reason, initial core kitten vaccinations occur at three- to four-week intervals until the cat is 16-20 weeks old and maternal antibodies are out of the system.

For any cat over 16 weeks old whose vaccine history is unknown, the initial series consists of two doses given three to four weeks apart.

Core vaccines should be boosted one year after the initial series.

The scientific community is still learning exactly how long these vaccines last. Currently, the recommendation for indoor/outdoor cats is to administer the FVRCP vaccine annually.

For indoor-only cats, the recommendation is to administer the vaccine every three years. Cats heading into stressful situations, such as boarding, may benefit from a core vaccine booster 7-10 days before.

How Do Vaccinations Work

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Vaccinations prepare the immune system to recognise and fight off a particular disease quickly, preventing it from taking hold in the body. Vaccines work because they typically contain a dead or weakened disease – giving the immune system time to build up resistance, ready to fight disease faster in the future, and keep your kitty healthy!

If your new pet hasnt had any vaccinations before you bring them home, they wont have any resistance or protection against common kitty illnesses. So for this reason, its best to keep your cat away from neighbourhood cats and indoors until they have had their shots.

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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.

Why Are Vaccines Important

Vaccines protect your kitten from diseases by exposing his immune system to antigens that help your kitten develop antibodies to fight the disease if he is ever is exposed to it. Immunizations reduce the severity of a disease or even prevent it completely. The necessity of vaccinations is determined by your cat’s age and lifestyle inform your vet so your kitten receives the right vaccines. According to the ASPCA, vets recommend that all healthy felines receive core vaccinations.

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Why Should I Have My Male Cat Neutered

Neutering or castration refers to the complete removal of the testicles in a male cat, and like spaying, offers health advantages:

  • Unneutered males are involved in more cat fights than their neutered friends.
  • Some male cats go through a significant personality change when they mature, becoming possessive of their territory and marking it with their urine to ward off other cats. Intruding cats that disregard the urine warning may be met with aggression.
  • The urine of an unneutered male cat has a very strong odor that is difficult to remove from your house if he marks his territory. Unneutered males will spray inside the house and will have litter box issues.
  • Fighting increases the risk of infectious diseases like feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukemia.
  • Unneutered males may be less friendly toward their human family members too.

Male cats are usually neutered between 4-6 months of age under general anesthesia. Unless there are complications such as undescended testicles , the cat may go home the same day . Cats with undescended testicles should be neutered too. The testicles still produce testosterone and these cats still act like unneutered males. These cats are at a high risk for developing cancer later in life.

Kitten And Cat Vaccinations

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  • Cats and kittens in the UK need to be vaccinated against feline enteritis and cat flu
  • Cats and kittens who go outside will also need to be vaccinated against feline leukaemia
  • Some boosters may be needed annually, but others may be needed every three years
  • Rabies, bordetella and chlamydia vaccines are also available for cats in the UK but these are considered non-core

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Planning For A Healthy Future

The right vaccines will help your kitten stay protected against disease. And this is just one of many steps youll take as a new cat owner to make sure that your feline friend is set up for a long, healthy life.

After your kitten has received their vaccines, talk to your veterinarian about the best path forward for your cat whether thats choosing the right cat food, finding a great brush, or discussing environmental enrichment to prevent stress-related diseases and improve quality of life. And while youre at it, read on for more vaccination pro tips here!

Preventive care and insurance can help

While vaccines are an essential part of preventive kitten care, some illnesses can still arise. In the event that your kitty needs a vet visit, pet insurance can help you say yes to the best care possible now, and in the future.

Preventive Essentials is not an insurance policy, and is not available in all states. It is offered as an optional add-on non-insurance benefit. Pumpkin is responsible for the product and administration. For full terms, visit

Vaccinations For Kittens And Cats

Kittens need a series of a few different vaccinations to give them full protection. The schedule typically starts when theyre about 6 to 8 weeks old, and runs until theyre about 16 weeks. After that, cats need boosters every year to a few years to help keep their immunity going strong. We always recommend keeping vaccination records handy to help you make sure theyre up to date.

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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.

Getting Your Kitten Vaccinated

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We recommended bringing your kitten in for their first round of vaccinations when they are between six and eight weeks old. Below is a series of vaccinations your kitten should given in three to four week intervals .

First visit

  • Fecal exam for parasites
  • Blood test for feline leukemia
  • Review nutrition and grooming
  • Vaccinations for chlamydia, calicivirus, rhinotracheitis and panleukopenia

Second visit

  • Examination and external check for parasites
  • Second vaccinations for calicivirus rhinotracheitis, and panleukopenia

Third visit

  • Second feline leukemia vaccine

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How Often Do Kittens Need Vaccines

Once theyve had their primary vaccination course, your cat will need booster vaccinations every year. Not all diseases need vaccinating that often, but some do.

If theres been an outbreak of a particular disease in your area, your cat may need an extra booster.

Dont worry too much about which exact vaccine your kitten needs and when, your vet will keep you updated and make sure your feline friend stays in good health. All you need to do is turn up to their appointments!

What Vaccinations Should I Make Sure My New Kitten Has

Vaccinating your kitten helps protect their health, making it vital they are placed on the right vaccination programme at the appropriate age.

There are several vaccines available, and in general terms they can be split into two categories:

  • Non-essential vaccines

Core vaccines are recommended for all kittens and cats regardless of their lifestyle, whilst non-essential will be recommended depending on the risk of exposure to the specific disease or virus.

Your vet is the best person to recommend the most suitable vaccination programme for your kittens lifestyle.

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Are There Any Risks Associated With Vaccines

There are many risk variables that we take into consideration before vaccinating, including overall health, immunodeficiency, immunosuppressive therapy, and nutritional status. With any vaccine, there is a rare possibility of allergic reaction. This happens very quickly after vaccination and may cause loss of appetite, pain at the site of injection, lethargy, vomiting, and fever. There is also the rare possibility of developing a feline injection site sarcoma. This is a malignant tumour linked to vaccine injection, especially if given higher up on the body.

There are many risk variables that we take into consideration before vaccinating, including overall health, immunodeficiency, immunosuppressive therapy, and nutritional status. With any vaccine, there is a rare possibility of allergic reaction. This happens very quickly after vaccination and may cause loss of appetite, pain at the site of injection, lethargy, vomiting, and fever. There is also the rare possibility of developing a feline injection site sarcoma. This is a malignant tumour linked to vaccine injection, especially if given higher up on the body.

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