Recommended Kitten Vaccinations

Kitten vaccinations protect your cat against disease. When your cat receives particular vaccines, the body's immune system manufactures antibodies that fight each type of disease upon any subsequent exposure. Vaccines minimize and may even prevent infection altogether.

Timing of Kitten Vaccinations

Mother's milk transfers immunity to kittens, which diminishes during the first part of life. For this reason, vaccinations should begin at six to eight weeks of age, then repeat every three to four weeks until about 12 weeks of age. Some vaccines are administered only once, however. If a kitten is orphaned and cannot nurse, vaccinations may begin as early as two weeks of age.

Recommended Feline Vaccinations

Here is a list of recommended kitten vaccination:

  • Feline Panleukopenia Virus Vaccine, which protects against feline distemper, a contagious and deadly viral illness.
  • Feline Calicivirus/Herpesvirus Vaccine, which protects against feline herpes virus Type I, a prevalent respiratory tract disease.
  • Rabies Virus Vaccine, which protects against the always-fatal disease, rabies. On the rise, rabies infects cats more than any other domesticated animal.
  • Feline Leukemia Virus Vaccine, which protects against FeLV, an often fatal disease spread cat-to-cat through biting, nursing, communal feeding and casual contact.
  • Feline Infectious Peritonitis Vaccine, which protects against FIP, a disease that causes anorexia, weight loss, stunted growth, potbelly and death.
  • Chlamydia Vaccine, which protects against conjunctivitis.
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus Vaccine, which protects against FIV.
  • Bordetella Bronchiseptica Vaccine, which protects against feline kennel cough.
  • Ringworm Vaccine, which protects against a fungal infection, dermatophytosis.

Vaccine Risks Range from Mild to Severe

All treatments pose risks. Most cats suffer no serious or lasting harm from vaccines and reap the benefits for life. However, you should be alert to these adverse reactions:

  • Fever, lethargy, loss of appetite-usually mild and short-lived.
  • Pain or swelling at vaccination site-usually mild and short-lived.
  • Allergic reactions-rare, but serious, causing vomiting, diarrhea, itching, swelling of the face and legs, breathing problems or collapse requiring emergency medical attention
  • Injection site tumors, or sarcomas-rare, and developing much later in life.

You and your vet will decide on a vaccination regimen suited specifically to your cat. Factors taken into consideration will be breed, health needs, lifestyle in terms of exposure to contagious disease, geographic locale and risks of particular vaccines relative to benefits.