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Vaccinating your cat

Vaccinating your cat is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your feline friend’s health and happiness. Here’s why.
Added on: 03 Oct, 2020 Posted by: Sandra James 6 min read (949 words)

In this guide:

Vaccinating your cat protects it against a range of infectious diseases, some of which can be fatal and others that can have a long-term impact on its health. So it’s important to keep your cat’s vaccinations up-to-date to ensure they stay protected throughout their lives.

Why should I vaccinate my cat?

It’s vital to get your cat vaccinated as it will help protect them from some serious diseases such as Cat Flu, Feline Infectious Enteritis (FIE), Feline Chlamydophilosis and Feline Leukaemia (FeLV).

  • By vaccinating your cat, you will also help minimise the spread of these diseases and keep other vulnerable cats safe.
  • If you need to board your cat in a cattery when you go away, they may also require proof that your cat’s vaccinations are up-to-date.
  • Your cat should be vaccinated while they are a kitten, then get regular boosters over their lifetime.

Kittens

Kittens can be especially vulnerable to the effects of infectious diseases such as cat flu. However, if your kitten’s mum has been vaccinated, she will be less likely to pass on any nasty diseases to her kittens and can pass on some of her protection to them in her milk. 

  • Once a kitten is weaned and home with you, they'll need to be vaccinated for their own protection.
  • When you first get a kitten, you should immediately register them with a local vet, who will be able to advise and give the necessary vaccines. The initial vaccination tends to be when kittens are eight to nine weeks old, with a second injection three weeks later. This is a primary course of vaccinations. After this, your cat will need a booster vaccination once every year. 
  • Even if you plan for your kitten to be an outdoor cat, you should keep them indoors until both rounds of vaccinations are complete and they’ve had time to build up immunity. Some vaccines take longer than others, so make sure that you check with your vet to ensure that your cat is fully safe before letting them outside.

Outdoor cats

It is vital to vaccinate your cat if they go outdoors. Outdoor cats have a much higher risk of picking up diseases. It makes sense - they are more likely to come across other cats that have not been vaccinated.

If you’re not sure if your cat has had any vaccinations or if you’ve missed your cat’s yearly booster, you can still take your cat to the vet for the injections. Your vet will advise and get your cat back up to date.

Indoor cats

It is also important to vaccinate indoor cats - you can still bring diseases into the house on your shoes or clothes. In addition, if you have other animals that go out, they can also introduce diseases on their fur or paws.

Indoor cats can also catch diseases from their brief trips outside, such as when you take them to the vet. If you bring another cat or pet into your household, this can also increase disease risk, especially if the other animal hasn’t been vaccinated either!

What to expect

Many cat vaccines are given through injections under the skin. Sometimes they are also given as eye drops or nose drops. Like human vaccinations, this protects your cat against diseases by engaging their immune system, which will then protect your cat if they are exposed to that disease again.

Sometimes vaccines do have some side effects. These can include: swelling at the injection site, tiredness, slight fever, low appetite, coughing and sneezing. These should only last for a couple of days. If your cat is still feeling unwell after a few days have passed, contact your vet for advice.

Common vaccinations

Some of the most common vaccines will fight against: 

1. Feline Leukemia  - this is a common feline disease. Transmitted between cats via their saliva can lead to cancer cases and blood disorders and can affect your cat’s immune system.

2. Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) - comparable to HIV, this is a virus that weakens cats' immune systems. This makes infected cats much more likely to catch other diseases and increases the likelihood of them being much more severe.

3. Chlamydophila Felis is a bacterial infection that can cause cats’ eyes and nose to become inflamed. This can cause long-term conjunctivitis, as well as pain and discomfort.

4. Panleukopenia - kittens are susceptible to this disease. It causes diarrhoea, vomiting and neurological problems such as a lack of coordination - it's a very contagious and serious disease. Luckily, this vaccine is so effective that just one injection can prevent most infections!

5. Feline respiratory disease (cat flu) - finally, there’s cat flu. Much more serious than it sounds; cat flu causes sneezing, discharge from the eyes and nose, and ulcers. It can sometimes also cause pneumonia.

Although your cat might not enjoy going to the vet to be vaccinated (understandably!), it is important to remember that a brief moment of discomfort can help protect your cat against infection and disease for the rest of its life.

Sandra James

Sandra James

Owner & Founder

The Cat Butler was set up by Sandra James in recognition of the fact that a stay in a cattery can be unsettling for many cats and also their owners.

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