Cats don’t actually have nine lives, so you need to do what you can to protect them. The key? The right vaccinations. Shots protect your cat from diseases caused by viruses and bacteria. They can also strengthen their immune system. Whether you have a kitten or an adult cat, your vet can help you figure out which vaccines are best and how often your kitty should get shots. It usually depends on their age, overall health, and lifestyle. The vet will also think about how long vaccines are supposed to last and how likely your cat might be to come into contact with a certain disease.
What do the Vaccines protect against?
Feline Enteritis – This is the most common disease that affects cats. It is a very contagious and is highly life threatening especially in kittens under 12 months of age. The most common symptoms are: High fever, depression, dehydration, severe stomach pain, vomiting diarrhea and dehydration.
- Feline Respiratory Disease (Cat Flu) – Cats of all ages can contract this disease as it is highly contagious. Symptoms of this are sneezing, nasal discharge, runny eyes, coughing, loss of appetite and ulcers on their tongues, in their mouths and on their nose, if left untreated this disease can cause severe dehydration.
- Feline Calicivirus- this virus can cause respiratory signs, fever, drooling ulcers of the mouth and footpads, pneumonia, diarrhea, arthritis, and neurologic signs
- Feline Distemper or Feline Panleukopenia- this disease is not very common in Australia however vets still see the occasional case, this viral disease is contagious that can cause high fever, vomiting and diarrhea. Unfortunately, it is often fatal in young kittens. It is also important to know that the feline distemper virus is not the same as canine distemper virus.
- Feline Chlamydia – Chlamydia is an organism that causes eye disease, it is most commonly seen in young kittens under 9 months of age. The symptoms Chlamydia are discharge from the eyes and nose, sore red eyes, high temperature, coughing, heavy breathing, enlarged lymph nodes, loss of appetite, sudden weight loss and depression.
- FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) –Whilst FIV cannot be transmitted between cats and humans, it acts in the same way as HIV does in humans, it is a blood borne viral infection that destroys the immune system and leaving a cat susceptible to infections and disease The symptoms of FIV are sores, lesions and diarrhea progress to severe chronic infections as the immune system is overcome. There is no treatment or cure for the virus itself.
Vaccinations can help prevent serious illness by building up your kitten’s immunity to potentially fatal diseases. They can also help to prevent the spread of disease to other cats, and more rarely, humans.
Common non-core vaccinations include feline immunodeficiency virus, feline leukemia and feline chlamydia.
When to Vaccinate
Kittens should start getting vaccinations when they are about 6-8 weeks old until they are 16 weeks old. Then they must be boosted a year later. The vaccinations generally come in a series of 3 to 4 weeks. Adult cats need Vaccinations less often, usually every year or every 3 years depending on how long the vaccine is designed to last.