Vaccinating Your Cat Against Disease

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There are many diseases that your cat is at risk for, whether he’s a fuzzy new kitten or a long time family pet. You should seriously consider having your cat vaccinated to help decrease his chances of contracting an illness. We’re going to talk about the routine vaccine schedule for cats, as well as give you a bit of information about the diseases it helps to prevent.

While a kitten is feeding off of milk from his mother his body is taking in the antibodies that are supplied in the milk. When the baby starts to move on to solid foods, the amount of antibodies he receives will lessen until he no longer holds any immunity. Usually, by 20 weeks of age all of the immunity passed through the mother’s milk is gone, leaving the kitten unprotected from disease.

The first set of vaccinations is referred to as the “core” vaccines. These protect your cat from common feline diseases such as:

Distemper – a potentially fatal disease that most cats will be exposed to in their lifetime. Brain damage and other issues can remain permanently in a kitten or cat who contracts and survives the illness.

Rhinotracheitis – a virus that causes respiratory infection. Vaccination does not prevent a cat from contracting this illness, but it can tone down the symptoms.

Calicivirus – respiratory virus that can cause symptoms of runniness in a cat’s eyes and nose for the rest of its life, even after treatment.

Rabies – a horrible disease that attacks the central nervous system, which can be spread through bites or scratches and is capable of being contracted by any mammal, including humans.

Your vet may recommend other “non-core” vaccines to protect your cat against diseases that are likely to affect him based on his breed or the area in which you live.

The vaccination schedule usually begins when a kitten reaches 6 weeks of age. Most veterinarians prefer to offer the first injection between 6 – 8 weeks of age. Two more injections will be administered three to four weeks apart, so most kittens are about four months old once at the last injection of the core shots. The vaccination process isn’t anything to worry about, for the most part. Your veterinarian will simply pinch a bit of skin from a fatty area and inject the vaccination there. The cat rarely feels anything save for a pinch or slight itchiness at the site of injection. You will need to take your cat back to the vet a year later for a “booster” shot, and then again every few years after that.