Kitten Vaccines and Schedule
Vaccination is one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect your cat from a number of diseases that have no cure or/and can cause potentially life-threatening complications. But it is crucial for your feline friend to receive the vaccine before being exposed to the disease. Therefore, it is best to have your cat vaccinated while still a kitten.
Core and Non-Core Kitten Vaccines
There are two categories of kitten vaccines – core and non-core. The first category encompasses vaccines that are agreed to be crucial for feline health and provide protection against feline distemper (also known as panleukopenia, a highly contagious disease which is often fatal), rabies, calicivirus and feline rhinotracheitis (also referred to as feline herpesvirus because it is caused by feline herpesvirus type 1).
Unlike core vaccines which should be received by all kittens, non-core vaccines are given to cats that are at risk of contracting particular diseases or/and developing a more severe form of illness. Non-core vaccines are given against infectious diseases such as feline leukemia virus, Chlamydophila felis, and FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus). Ask your veterinarian if and which non-core vaccines might be beneficial for your kitten.
How Kitten Vaccines Work?
All vaccines, no matter if intended for humans or animals, work on the same principle. They contain a small amount of disease-causing virus or bacteria (antigens) that is insufficient to cause illness but sufficient to stimulate the immune system to develop antibodies to the introduced antigens. If and when exposed to the actual disease, the immune system releases antibodies that fight off the virus or bacteria and prevent them from causing disease/reduce the severity of illness.
Risks and Side Effects of Kitten Vaccines
Severe reactions to kitten vaccines are rare and their benefits far outweigh the risks. Side effects – if they occur – are usually mild and short lived. The most commonly reported side effect is pain, swelling or/and redness at the injection site. Serious side effects are extremely uncommon but not impossible: tumor at the injection site, lethargy, fever, loss of appetite and very rare life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis which develops almost immediately after receiving the vaccine. Please consult your veterinarian about the risks and side effects of kitten vaccines as well as about the signs to look for after vaccination to know if and when to seek veterinary help.
When is the Best Time to Have Your Kitten Vaccinated?
In order for the vaccines to work and protect your cat from potentially life-threatening diseases, it is of utmost importance for her to be vaccinated at the right time. During the first few weeks after birth, kittens are protected from infectious diseases by antibodies that are received through their mother’s milk. For that reason, there is no need for them to be vaccinated immediately. The first doses of core and some non-core vaccines can be given when the kitten is 6 to 8 weeks old, and the follow-up doses 3 to 4 weeks later unless recommended otherwise by your veterinarian.