Welcoming a new kitten into your home is an exciting time. And there are lots of new experiences for you to both enjoy. As part of your kitty proof checklist, you'll want to know all about kitten vaccinations. Kitten vaccinations will help keep your kittes healthy and protect them from a host of diseases like Cat flu. So, if you’re a new cat owner trying to navigate the intimidating world of kitten care, read on to understand what you need to do to keep your kitty safe and healthy.
Why Vaccinate Your Kitten?
When kittens are born, their immune systems are not fully developed and they're vulnerable to disease. Whilst newborns are developing their own immune system, their mothers pass on some protection. Nursing provides kittens with antibody-rich milk called colostrum. These maternal antibodies deliver kittens with temporary immunity against illness.
The protection gradually falls, meaning our adorable cats need to have their kitten vaccinations to stay healthy and to protect them from catching and passing on diseases.
What kitten vaccinations do they need?
All kitties need certain core vaccines, which provide immunity against the most harmful and common diseases. Your kitten must have these core vaccines to protect against the following diseases:
- Cat flu - similar symptoms to our version but this can be fatal for cats.
- Feline panleukopenia virus (FPV) - An often-fatal viral infection, which causes extreme diarrhoea and vomiting.
- Feline leukaemia (for outdoor kitties)
Kittens needs their core vaccines as a minimum but for extra protection you might want to consider additional vaccinations like Rabies, which you'll need for their pet passport (Brexit permitting!)
PDSA have written a useful cat vaccination guide that explains each of the diseases that your kitten vaccinations are protecting against.
When do they need to get their vaccines?
To help protect our kittens they will need two sets of essential vaccinations. Kittens should have their first set of vaccinations at around 8 weeks old and 3-4 weeks later they should receive the second set to boost their immune system. After this, kittens and cats usually need 'booster' vaccinations every twelve months.
Most kittens should have already had their first round of injections before you bring them home. To be safe, make sure you get a record of these injections from your breeder or shelter. This will help you and your vet effectively plan your kitten’s vaccination schedule.
Why does my cat need booster vaccinations?
Once out of their tumultuous toddler stage your cat will need to have regular booster jabs to make sure they stay fully protected throughout their life. Your cat should get an annual booster and you should be able to get your vets clinic to send you a reminder. Their annual vaccinations will help to protect them and keep others safe by boosting their immunity.
A lot of pets find visits to the vet stressful. Boo certainly does, albeit rather than hissing or scratching becomes fully docile for our vet. You can help make these visits less stressful for your kitty by introducing them to your vet early on. Make an introduction appointment where your vet will simply play with your cat and get them use to the new surroundings and being touched around their ears and looking at their teeth. You’ll be thankful for these introduction sessions later on, we promise!
The aftermath of Kitten vaccinations
Vaccinations (like any other medicine) can sometimes cause side effects. These will typically subside within a couple of days but you may find your cat is snoozier than usual and has a smaller appetite.
If your kitty is showing a more severe reaction then contact your vet immediately.
How much do vaccinations cost?
Prices for kittens vaccinations vary practice to practice, and from year to year. Expect to pay around £60-70 for your kittens primary vaccinations and then for their booster injections it will be around £40-50.
When can your kitten go outside?
As your kitten develops so does their curiosity and you’ll notice their eagerness to explore the great outdoors. Don’t fall for those pleading kitten eyes quite yet. Until they have passed the immunity period, they need to stay safely tucked up indoors and away from other animals who haven't had their own vaccines. One to two weeks after their second set of vaccinations, they'll be fully protected and ready venture outside. Check with your vet if you're unsure.
If you’ve chosen to let your kitty roam the outdoors, there are a few things to consider so that they’re kept safe. Unlike indoor kitties, they will need an additional vaccine against feline leukaemia if they go outside. The big outdoors is a scary place, and it is important that you prepare your kitten (and yourself). Read our blog post about bringing your kitten home and preparing them for being outdoors.
My cat’s an indoor cat, do they still need vaccinations?
How indoors is indoor? Some Indoors cat stay predominantly indoors but occasionally go outside. Other indoor cats never stray away from the comforts of their home but live with outdoor cats. Regardless of how indoor or outdoor your kitty is, it's important for all cats to get vaccinations so that they're protected from any exposures. Many of the diseases we vaccinate against are resilient. This means they can be spread inside the home, on people or objects, and are still a risk to our indoor kitties.
If your cat is a house cat then we have a useful blog on the importance of environmental enrichment for house cats.
What happens at your kitten vaccination?
We know no one wants to see their adorable kitten with a needle in them, it is not a nice image to have and most of us don’t like needles on the best of days (we hope). But don’t worry, you are in good hands with your vet and they deal with kitten vaccinations every day.
At the first vaccination appointments your vet will most likely use this time to do a full health check of your kitten and plan with you their future course of treatment. They'll guide you through it and be more than happy to answer any questions.
So, you can be prepared and smash that first vets’ appointment, be the PA your cat wants you to be and have all your kitten’s paperwork with you. Your vet will need all the important details; your cat's birthday, when they adopted you and what treatments they may have had already.
Got a new kitten?
We know that bringing a new adorable member into your family can be overwhelming. We have some other blogs that will help you to be the best pet-parent ever!