Cat Vaccines
Keeping Your Cat Healthy

Cat Vaccines

Thanks to cat vaccines, the numerous diseases that could potentially rob us of our beloved pets are significantly minimal compared to previous years.

It’s important to know a little about the various vaccines so that you can talk to your vet about what shots your cat may need and so that you will be able to spot problems in your cat after vaccinations.

Why Vaccinate?

When a normal, healthy kitten is born, his immune system is untried and untested. He does get some immunity passed on through his mother’s milk but that is only temporary.

In the first 5-6 weeks, his mother’s antibodies are sufficient to keep him protected from most common viruses.

After this initial period, the immunity the kitten gains from the mother’s milk will fade and the kitten will have to rely on its own immune system.

Without controlled exposure to certain viruses, all the live active viruses out there will soon overwhelm your cat. The purpose of vaccination is to prepare your cat for a time when he will encounter viruses.

Without vaccinations, your cat would have to experience exposure to a virus then survive the attack in order to develop immunity.

How They Work

During the first few months of life, a series of cat vaccines are required. After the vaccination is given, the mother’s antibodies attack the virus and destroy it.

As your kitten gets older the mother’s antibodies get weaker and are unable to conquer the viruses. At this point the virus is allowed to stimulate the kitten’s immune system and it results in immunity to that virus or viruses.

At some point between 6 and 20 weeks, the mother’s antibodies no longer protect her kitten.

Due to the fact that you cannot tell for sure what the kitten is safe from, administer vaccinations every 3 weeks until the kitten reaches 20 months.

Available Cat Vaccines

Here is a list of cat vaccines that are available to cat owners in the United States.

Be sure to check with your pet’s veterinarian to determine when to give the vaccinations to your furry friend.

  • Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis
  • Feline Calicivirus
  • Feline Leukemia Virus
  • Feline Panleukopenia
  • Feline Infectious Peritonitis
  • Feline Chlamydia
  • Cat Rabies Vaccine

Warning Signs

When you give your cat vaccinations, you are introducing into his system just a little bit of the virus for which you’re trying to give him immunity. For this reason, you may find that your pet exhibits some signs of various viruses.

You will need to know what is normal for your cat and what is a danger sign requiring a visit to your local veterinarian. Here are some signs and symptoms to watch for:

  • Sleepy, depressed kittens lacking an appetite
  • Irritable, grumpy, does not want to be touched
  • Firm non painful lump under skin at injection site
  • Nasal or ocular discharge and sneezing

Sleepy and Depressed

This is one of the most common side effects from vaccinations. Quite often, these symptoms come with a lack of appetite and skin hot to the touch. These symptoms are most often found in kittens who have just received a vaccination for Leukemia. In the first 24 hours you need not worry.

Keep your pet warm and give him water from an eye dropper. He may or may not eat during this time. If this continues beyond 36 hours call your vet.

Irritable and Grumpy

It’s common for injection sites to be swollen and quite painful to the touch. Many kittens may not want to be touched. Petting your kitten on the head or neck may make him cry out or jerk away from your touch.

If this goes on after five days or if a lump appears and seems to be growing take your pet to the vet.

Firm Lump under Skin at Injection Site

It’s very common to find a lump from the size of a pea to a marble that can move around under the skin. The lump will usually last from 2 to 6 weeks.

You should be concerned if it grows very large, is painful to the touch, or your kitten’s color seems to be off.

Discharge from the Nose or Eyes

This is usually associated with intranasal vaccines like the flu vaccine. A watery discharge combined with sneezing is common and usually occurs after 3 to 4 days. Generally, after showing up, the symptoms will disappear within a couple days.

You should seek out your vet if the discharge goes from clear and watery to yellow or green and thick.

An Ounce of Prevention

Just like the saying goes an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Vaccines do a great job of keeping your feline friend happy and healthy for many years to come. They key is to make sure you give your cat the right vaccines and at the right time. Don’t wait until new kittens are months old.

Most veterinarians begin giving your kitten his first vaccinations around 6 weeks of age.

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