Vaccinations are essential to take care of our pet’s health. With them we prevent and avoid viral and bacterial diseases that, in some cases, can be fatal. Vaccines for cats are an essential preventive treatment that prepares their immune system to face different infections.
Vaccines are created to help fight diseases by administering a small part of the virus, bacterium or microorganism. By introducing this attenuated or inactivated substance into the body we are able to produce the defense antibodies necessary to fight the disease, if contracted. The doses of vaccines for cats are completely safe and must be carried out at the right time to guarantee protection.
The first vaccination should be done after weaning, when the kitten is about 2 months old. And what about its protection until then? Don’t worry. During lactation, the mother provides them with the necessary immune defenses through her milk.
What is the vaccination schedule for kittens?
From 7 weeks of life, the immunity transferred by the mother begins to disappear, so we must start their first vaccinations. Until they have been vaccinated, they should not go outside or interact with other cats to avoid possible diseases. Although they have not been given as much relevance as for dogs, vaccines for cats are just as important since the diseases they can contract are much more serious and have worse diagnosis; in some of them there is not even treatment.
At what age are cats vaccinated?
Before vaccinating our kitten, we must deworm them at around one and a half months of age. In addition, you should test them for leukemia and immunodeficiency before vaccination to know if they are carriers.
This would be an adequate vaccination schedule for cats from an early age:
- 2 months: Trivalent vaccine against panleukopenia, calcivirus and rhinotracheitis.
- 2 and a half months: Feline leukemia
- 3 months: Revaccination of trivalent (second dose)
- 3 and a half months: Leukemia Revaccination (second dose)
- 4 months: Rabies vaccine
What vaccinations do cats need?
The trivalent vaccine is the most important, as it protects against three diseases. The other cat vaccines are considered optional, although they are recommended depending on the criteria of your veterinarian and the area where you live (as they can be risky or mandatory). In turn, the leukemia vaccine is essential to protect those cats that go outdoors and interact with other cats.
What is the vaccination schedule for adult cats?
Annually you should revaccinate your cat to ensure its protection against diseases. This time, a single dose of each one is vaccinated to maintain its active effects for another year.
Therefore, the vaccines that an adult cat needs would be:
- Trivalent vaccine.
- Feline leukemia vaccine (in outdoor cats).
- Rabies vaccination (according to law).
Remember to consult the laws of each country or community to know which vaccinations are optional and which are mandatory, as well as to consult with your veterinarian about what is best for your feline.
If you have just adopted a healthy adult cat that has not been vaccinated, its immune system is already well developed and does not need several doses of vaccines. However, it is important to test the cat for leukemia and feline immunodeficiency; first to confirm that it is healthy and, secondly, because we should never vaccinate for leukemia if the cat is already a carrier.
Diseases combated by vaccines for cats
- Feline panleukopenia: Similar to parvovirus in dogs and fatal in more than 80% of kittens and 40% of adult cats. It causes a decrease in white blood cells, decay, weakness, dehydration, vomiting and diarrhea. It is also highly contagious.
- Rhinotracheitis: Contagious respiratory disease with symptoms of sneezing, mucus and ocular secretions.
- Calcivirus: A flu-like illness of the respiratory tract. You can read more about this disease in this article.
- Leukemia: A deadly and highly contagious disease that affects the immune system and produces tumors in different organs. To learn more about Leukemia click here.
- Rabies: It is deadly and is transmitted to humans through bites.
What other diseases can these felines have?
- Feline immunodeficiency (FIV): Similar to human HIV. There is a vaccine for cats with this disease, but its efficacy has not been fully demonstrated and it is not always recommended. Although there is no cure, its treatment ensures that the cat remains stable and has a good quality of life for many years.
- Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP): An incurable and fatal disease, although rare in domestic cats. The FIP vaccine is administered nasally and also has questionable efficacy, so many veterinarians advise against it.
What can be the side effects of giving your cat a vaccine?
Occasionally cats may suffer side effects as a consequence of a vaccination. They are not usually important and usually pass in a few hours, but you should keep an eye on them in case it is necessary to visit your veterinarian again.
The most common side effects from cat vaccines are as follows:
- The cat is more tired or apathetic than usual, so it will shy away from your company and prefer to hide and rest in a quiet place far away.
- It may be warmer than normal to the touch. He may have a few tenths of fever. If after a few hours his body temperature does not return to normal, we advise you to go to your veterinarian.
- Lack of appetite: It is usually associated with fever and should pass in a few hours. You can offer wet food (pâté or mousse) to stimulate him.
- Redness or swelling of the area. It will disappear in a few days, as there may be some traces of the vaccine liquid that will be absorbed over time.
- Choking or breathing problems: This is the rarest, but if you notice that your cat is having trouble breathing or has swollen muzzle area, see your veterinarian immediately in case it is a serious allergic condition.