A Guide to Feline Vaccinations

Every cat should receive a set of feline vaccinations to protect against the most common and deadly cat diseases. A cat vaccination boosts your pet's immune system by preparing it to combat a particular disease in the future. Although there are some feline vaccine side effects, including an extremely slight chance of your cat contracting the disease that you are vaccinating him against, the overall benefits of vaccinations far outweigh the risks.

How to Determine Which Vaccines Your Cat Should Receive

There are a substantial number of veterinary vaccines available to pet owners. Although it is not possible to give your cat an excessive or harmful number of vaccines, you can save time and money by considering carefully which diseases are most appropriate to vaccinate for. When considering which vaccines to administer to your pet, consider the following factors:

  • The likelihood that your cat will contract the disease, including such risk factors as your location, his diet and other cats in the area
  • The severity of the disease
  • The overall success rate and side effects of the vaccine
  • Your cat's health and disease history

If in doubt about whether to administer a particular vaccine, or if you do not know your cat's medical or vaccination history, speak with a veterinarian for further advice. Cats that have exhibited strong negative reactions to specific vaccines in the past may be better off without subsequent vaccines.

Understand the Standard Feline Vaccination Schedule

Veterinarians recommend a feline distemper vaccination, a feline leukemia vaccination and a feline rabies vaccination for all cats, beginning from an early age. These illnesses, as well as feline calicivirus, are the most common feline diseases. They often prove deadly to cats of all ages, but are especially dangerous for kittens. Your kitten should begin to receive vaccines against these diseases at approximately 6 weeks of age, once the maternal antibodies from his mother's milk have begun to lose their potency.

Following the initial vaccination procedure, your maturing cat will require a booster set of vaccinations approximately once per year. These additional vaccinations are necessary to keep your pet's immune system prepared to fight off new strains of disease that have developed since the previous set of vaccinations. This schedule depends upon the type of vaccines that your pet has received in the past. Speak with a veterinarian for advice about your cat's update vaccinations.

Risks of Vaccinations

Vaccines may produce some negative side effects, and rarely a cat may experience a severe reaction to a vaccination. Typically, the following mild reactions are common following a vaccination:

  • Inflammation or swelling around the spot of injection
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever

If your cat exhibits a lump or swelling around the site of the vaccination that does not diminish within a few days, or if he displays signs of an allergic reaction within a few minutes of the vaccination, consult a veterinarian immediately. These may be signs of a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction to the vaccination.

By understanding the types and proper administration of feline vaccinations, you will help to protect your cat against some of the most common and oftentimes fatal diseases afflicting millions of cats around the world. Take care to keep proper records of your cat's vaccinations, and speak with a vet if you have any questions or concerns.