How Often to Cats Need Distemper Shots?

Feline distemper is a disease that is both widespread and potentially fatal. Distemper shots are included in every veterinarian's list of annual vaccines or semi-annual vaccines. Distemper is a serious illness and one that nearly every cat comes in contact with. As a result, it is extremely important that cat owners monitor their pet's health records and ensure that their pets are adequately vaccinated.

Vaccinating Your Cat Against Distemper

Distemper vaccination should occur after your cat has reached 3 months of age. A mother's colostrum, or first milk, may provide adequate immunization for the first 4 months of a kitten's life. A veterinarian can recommend whether a vaccination is needed at 3 months or 4 months, although every kitten should receive a vaccination at some point in his early life.

The initial vaccine against distemper will typically require two separate doses, given approximately 1 month apart. A vaccination should not be given to a pregnant mother cat, as the live vaccine may infect the prenatal kittens.

Following the initial vaccination against distemper, most veterinarians give booster shots to protect older cats against the disease every year or so. Speak with your veterinarian for further information about his office's protocol and recommended vaccination schedule in order to save you from paying for unnecessary shots.

Recognizing Distemper

Although most cats are vaccinated against distemper, there is still a chance that your pet will contract the disease. Due to the ubiquity of the disease among cats all over the world, it is important to recognize the symptoms of distemper. Early diagnosis and treatment is critical in saving a cat's life. Look for the following primary symptoms of feline distemper:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea that continue for more than a few days
  • Loss of weight or appetite
  • Fever
  • Low white blood cell count, as determined by a blood sample and test

If your cat shows any of these signs, take him a veterinary hospital for immediate examination. A veterinarian can diagnose distemper in a variety of ways, although the most common is a fecal analysis and physical exam. Occasionally, a cat that has been recently vaccinated against distemper will show a false positive diagnosis.

Treating Feline Distemper

Your cat's immune system can fight off distemper on its own. However, due to the initial affects of the disease, most cats with distemper that do not receive treatment die before the disease passes. Therefore, it is critical to take a distempered cat to a veterinary hospital for monitoring and stabilization.

A veterinarian will work to combat bacteria in the intestines and stabilize hydration levels. The goal of distemper treatment is to keep the disease from progressing and maintain the cat's stable condition for a long enough period of time to allow the disease to pass naturally.

Feline distemper is a common and serious threat to cats everywhere. Take the necessary precautions to vaccinate and protect your pet against this deadly disease. Speak with your veterinarian if you have any questions about the appropriate vaccination regimen or schedule for your pet.