At What Age Should Your Kitten Get Vaccinated?

Vaccinations are important for your young kitten. Some infectious diseases are fatal, and vaccinations can protect your kitten from many of these diseases. In order to be effective, immunizations must be given as a series of injections at prescribed intervals, so it is essential that you are on time for your kitten’s scheduled vaccinations. Immunizations are started at 6-8 weeks of age and are repeated every 3-4 weeks until the kitten is 4 months old.

The routine or core vaccinations will protect your kitten from the most common diseases: feline distemper (panleukopenia), feline viral rhinotracheitis (feline herpes virus 1), calicivirus, and rabies. The first three are included in a combination vaccine given every three to four weeks until the kitten reaches 16 weeks of age. Rabies vaccine is usually given once at 12-16 weeks of age.

Why does kitten need more than one vaccination?

Immediately after birth, a kitten receives a temporary form of immunity through the colostrum, which is the milk produced by mother cats shortly after birth, laden with protective antibodies. This first milk is produced only for a few days after birth and contains proteins called maternal antibodies. For about 24-48 hours after birth, the kitten’s intestine allows absorption of these antibodies directly into the blood stream. This passive immunity protects the kitten during its first few weeks of life when its immune system is immature, but in order to remain protected against these diseases, the kitten must produce its own, longer-lasting active immunity.

Vaccinations stimulate active immunity, but they have to be given at just the right time. As long as the mother’s antibodies are present in the kitten’s bloodstream, they prevent the immune system from responding effectively to the vaccines. When a kitten is ready to respond to vaccinations depends on the level of immunity in the mother cat, the amount of antibody absorbed by the nursing kitten, and the general health and nutrition of the kitten.

Since it is difficult to know exactly when an individual kitten will lose its short-term passive immunity and be ready for immunizations, a series of vaccinations given at specific intervals increases the odds of stimulating active immunity in the kitten. The goal is to give at least two vaccinations in the critical window of time that occurs after the kitten loses her maternal immunity and before she is exposed to infectious diseases. Giving a series improves the chances of hitting this window twice. Also, multiple injections are needed because a single vaccination, even if effective, is not likely to stimulate the long-term active immunity that is so important. Rabies vaccine is an exception since one injection given at the proper age is enough to produce lasting immunity.

Your kitten needs a vaccination schedule to stay happy and healthy

Your little catling is a sweet bundle of pouncy, purry love — one that needs your help to stay healthy, happy, and safe. One of the most important things you can do for your kittyBAE is to make sure they get their vaccinations against disease. Here’s what to know about which vaccinations they need, when they need them, and how much you can expect to pay.

What shots do kittens need and when?

Kittens need vaccination to stay healthy once they no longer have their mother’s immunity to protect them against infectious diseases. Generally, there are two types of kitten shots.

  • Core vaccines are essential shots required for all kittens and mature cats to defend against prevalent and/or harmful diseases.
  • Non-core vaccines aren’t always necessary for all pet cats. Vets recommend these specific immunizations for cats at greater risk of illness. Non-core vaccines require an assessment of your cat’s lifestyle and location to determine the present level of risk for infection.

When can you vaccinate a kitten?

According to the VCA Hospitals, kittens have passive immunity from antibody absorption from their mother through the intestine for 24 to 48 hours after birth. This protects them against disease during the first few weeks of life but they need to build longer-lasting active immunity in order to remain protected against these diseases. Vaccines promote active immunity, but they must be given at the correct time.

Because it’s impossible to predict when a kitten will lose its short-term immunity, a series of vaccines spaced at regular intervals boost the cat’s chances of developing active immunity. The aim is to administer at least two vaccines during the critical window after the kitten loses maternal immunity before exposure to infectious disease.

Kittens need vaccine boosters every one to three years (depending on the type and individual circumstances) to maintain active, long-lasting immunity.

Talk to your veterinarian about your kitten’s lifestyle and discuss their kitten vaccination schedule to determine what’s best for your pet.

Are there kitten vaccine side effects or risks?

You may notice your kitten acting strangely after a vaccine shot, including walking with a limp, a lack of appetite, lethargy, nausea or vomiting, aggression, and crying.

However, most pet experts and veterinarians agree that the benefits of kitten vaccines far outweigh the possible risk of side effects, especially when in young animals — the most at-risk population.

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