Why You Shouldn't Vaccinate a Sick Kitten

The owner of a sick kitten should consult a veterinarian and wait until the kitten has fully recovered before objecting the feline to any vaccinations. Although the purpose of vaccinations is to prevent illnesses, receiving vaccinations in an already weakened state can actually cause health problems.

Kittens and Illness

It is actually quite common for a kitten who has been recently adopted to come down with an illness. Kittens from breeders and shelters have been confined in small spaces with or near other animals and even the best efforts on the part of the breeder or shelter staff can't halt the spread of contagious diseases. Kittens are especially susceptible to upper respiratory infections in these environments.

The Purpose of Vaccinations

The purpose of vaccinations is for a kitten to develop antibodies that will help minimize or eliminate the threat of coming down with an illness, infection or disease when exposed to the real virus or bacteria. When adopting baby animals, giving the pets vaccinations at an early age can help the antibodies become more ingrained into their immune systems as they grow older, although subsequent booster shots may be necessary as adults. Also, baby animals have weakened immune systems, so they are more likely to develop complications if they encounter disease or infection.

How Vaccinations Work

Inside the vaccinations are dead or weakened actual viruses or bacteria that the vaccination is aiming to prevent. The body of the animal will fight off this weakened infection by producing antibodies to kill the virus or bacteria. The cat may experience minor side effects during this time, such as fatigue, diminished appetite, soreness at the injection site and mild fever, but unless the animal is allergic to the vaccine, these side effects should not be anywhere near as devastating as the effects of the actual disease. Should the animal encounter the full, thriving virus or bacteria, its body will have stored the information required to produce antibodies at a faster and more effective rate.

The Sick Kitten's Body

The primary reason why no one should vaccinate an ill kitten is because the kitten's immune system is already compromised fighting off the existing infection. Putting even the dead or weakened forms of the viruses and infections that are found in vaccinations into the kitten's body means that the small animal must now fight off two viruses or infections at once. The baby animal may not have the strength to fight both at once.

Effectiveness of Vaccinations for a Sick Kitten

Besides the immediate health risk of vaccinating a sick kitten, the vaccination is likely to have diminished effectiveness or be entirely infective if given to the kitten while it is ill. The immune system, already busy fighting off a more potent infection, will not give the second weaker infection its full attention. The antibodies, if developed at all, will not be as potent as it should be if the animal later encounters the actual virus or bacteria.

Vaccinating a sick kitten is bad for the health of the animal and also undermines the point of vaccinations in the first place. Delay vaccinations, even those in part of a series, until the kitten has recovered.