Kitten Vaccinations 101
Now that you got your new family member home, its time to think about kitten vaccinations. Vaccinating your kitten is not only important for the little guy’s safety but so that your new kitten doesn’t spread diseases to other cats and animals with whom he or she may come into contact. So, despite the expense, it is important that you get the proper kitten vaccinations.
What are the typical kitten vaccinations?
Kitten vaccinations help your cat to build immunity to a series of diseases, from diseases affecting the respiratory system–like calcivirus, FVR and pneumonitus—to really common diseases like panleukopenia, the most widespread and contagious cat disease. Some diseases are cat versions of human diseases, like feline leukemia, while others you may have heard of as a dog disease—rabies. Cats catch giardia, a particularly nasty parasite, from outdoor water sources, while feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) passes from cat to cat via their stools and flatulence. Given the number of diseases with which your cat may come into contact, you should really get him or her vaccinated.
Does it matter if I found my kitten outside or if I got him from a breeder?
Yes, your cat’s history will change the treatment your cat receives. It is important to inform your veterinarian about how you got your kitten. Many breeders will already have started a series of kitten vaccinations in order to protect their stock. You should ask your breeder what shots your kitten has already received, if any, and have that information for your first veterinary visit.
You also want to tell your veterinarian if you found your kitten outside. You should be prepared to describe the conditions where you found him or her and the condition of any other cats that may have been present.
This information is important for the doctor to determine which vaccines are necessary.
Does it matter whether I plan to keep my kitten indoors or outdoors?
Yes. Indoor cats come into contact with fewer potential pathogens since their range of experience is limited to your home. They still will have contact with you, other pets and you family, however, so it is still important to vaccinate them, but they are less likely to get into fights with other animals outside the home or to drink from strange bowls and food sources. Be sure to inform your veterinarian about your plans for your kitten.
When should I start getting vaccinations?
Kitten vaccinations usually begin between 6 to 10 weeks after birth and continue throughout the first year. Typically, a veterinarian will have you follow up with a second set of vaccines 3-4 weeks afterwards. Different veterinarians will have slightly different protocols when it comes to this schedule and the particular circumstances of you cat may require a slightly different schedule, so you should consult with your veterinarian for specifications.
Typically, there are yearly follow-ups that help boost the initial kitten vaccinations as you cat enters maturity. (Cats typically live into their teens, so they have reached full maturity after a year.)
And don’t forget to have those little guys spayed and neutered as well even if you plan to keep them indoors. You really don’t want to experience the madness that comes when the little guy goes into heat and starts banging herself against the wall to get some action.