As vets and pet owners, one of the most important things we can do for our kittens and cats is to make sure they are protected against infectious disease by vaccinating them. At their annual health check appointment, your vet will carry out a full physical health check and let you know what vaccinations they recommend your pet receives.
Cats should be vaccinated against the pathogens that cause “cat flu” as well as deadly panleukopaenia virus. We also strongly advise vaccination against feline leukaemia virus. This would be a particularly good idea for cats that spend time outdoors, or if you own more than one cat.
Our kitten vaccination course is with Nobivac Tricat and Nobivac FeLV (to immunise against panleukopaenia virus, herpesvirus, calicivirus and feline leukaemia virus).
When they are first born, kittens receive protection against infectious disease from their mother in her colostrum. Unfortunately this protection doesn’t last very long, and as it starts to fade, we need to vaccinate them so they produce their own immunity. We want the period of time when they are unprotected to be as short as possible, so we recommend vaccinations start from 9 weeks of age.
As we don’t know exactly when the protection from the dam wanes, young kittens are given more than one dose of vaccine, to maximise their chance of responding to them.
Here at Orchard Vets, our routine kitten vaccination program is as follows:
Four weeks after their second vaccination, your kitten will be protected against infectious disease. They should not go out until this time. However, we strongly recommend that kittens are not allowed out until after they are neutered.
We advise that most cats are revaccinated annually. Feline leukaemia virus vaccination and panleukopaeniavirus vaccination is given every three years, and herpesvirus vaccination and calicivirus vaccination is given annually. At your pet’s annual health check your veterinarian will be able to tell you which vaccinations are currently due.
Vaccination stimulates the immune system, which can trigger a mild fever. This is most commonly seen after initial vaccinations, though it is sometimes seen after re-vaccination.
Your pet might be a little sleepy after their appointment: don’t be alarmed if this is the case. In most cases, pets feel and behave absolutely normally!
An allergic or adverse response to a vaccination is possible, as with any medication, but very rare. Signs of an allergic reaction may include swelling around the nose or mouth, diarrhoea or occasionally vomiting. If you have any concerns that your pet seems unwell after a vaccination, please contact the surgery for advice.
Pets can go about their normal routine in the run up to their vaccination appointment and after it. There is no need to withhold food before or after, or restrict exercise or activity.
Indoor only cats are at less risk of picking up illnesses than cats that go outside and have contact with other cats, but not at no risk at all. Certainly, they should be protected in their early months when they are most vulnerable, by receiving their kitten vaccinations. If they go to a boarding facility, or if one or more cats in the household does spend time outdoors, even those cats which stay inside themselves should still be considered at high risk of encountering disease. The WSAVA recommends that these cats should be vaccinated with the same frequency as those that go outside themselves.
If your cat is the only cat at home, and does not go to a boarding cattery, they are at a much lower risk of contracting an infectious disease. However, we can accidently carry pathogens home sometimes on our clothing or skin. WSAVA advice is that owners of these cats may wish to consider vaccination less frequently, but they should still be vaccinated. Of course, they should still receive an annual health check from their vet.