You’ve created a comfortable place to sleep, picked out the right food for their breed, picked out the perfect toys, bowls, and accessories to meet their every need. The family’s all excited to give their new fur baby a home. Alongside all the home necessities, it’s important to remember the key milestones of vaccination to keep your kitten happy and healthy.
Let's take a look at when you should vaccinate your kitten, core vaccines, and some common preventable diseases.
When Should You Vaccinate Your Kitten?
Maternal antibodies passed through a nursing mother help provide immunity to the kitten. Such antibodies allow it to protect, control, and recover from any viruses by birth. However, at 8 to 18 weeks the antibodies start to weaken allowing the kitten's system to be more vulnerable to catching viruses.
Each vaccine administered is approved by the vet after examining your kitten's age, health concerns, immunity, and even the environment or area they live in. Below is a general guideline on a kitten's vaccination schedule.
Also, most vets do not recommend public exposure of the kitten until their booster vaccinations (an extra administration of a vaccine after an earlier dose) are complete.
Kitten Vaccination Schedule
First Vaccination: 6-8 weeks
A kitten's first vaccination is approved as soon as they wean off their mother's milk which may be between the age of 6 to 8 weeks.
Second Vaccination: 10-12 weeks
As the immunity from the mother's milk starts to weaken, maternal antibodies fail to provide strength against viruses. This may be between the age of 10 to 12 weeks where booster vaccinations are administered to provide immunity.
Third Vaccination: 14-16 weeks
After the first course of vaccine is administered by the vet, an annual protocol is assigned which allows the kitten to be vaccinated every 1 to 3 years. Each booster vaccination provides a shield against many, if not all, viruses.
What Vaccines Do Kittens Need?
There are multiple vaccines out there, each curated for a different set of diseases. A kitten's health concerns, risk factors due to age or environment, and geography can all be a determiner of whether your cat is eligible for non-core vaccines and if they are necessary. Some vets may prescribe further treatments if your kitten suffers from a weak immune system making it vulnerable to catching viruses.
Core Vaccinations include:
- Feline Herpes Virus
- Feline Panleukopenia
- Feline Calicivirus
Non-core vaccines refer to those that are not considered crucial but do play an essential part to provide complete immunity. They are as follows:
- Feline Leukemia
- Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
- Feline Chlamydia
Immunity of the kitten is effective 5 to 10 days after the vaccine's administration and complete immunity is ensured at the age of 16 to 18 weeks. Most vets recommend keeping your kitten indoors and reducing any social behavior until all vaccinations have been completed.
Common Preventable Diseases in Cats
Most diseases related to kittens are zoonotic diseases i.e., they can spread to humans especially the elderly, sick patients, young children, and pregnant women. A proper kitten vaccination schedule helps protect the fur babies and their parents against the viral elements. Some of the common, but preventable, diseases are given below:
It attacks the growing cells of the intestines and the bone marrow caused by the Parvovirus. Most often referred to as Feline Distemper, Panleukopenia is highly contagious and can often lead to fatalities. It is characterised by dehydration, weight loss, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, anaemia, and rough coat. Treatment includes supportive care for the ongoing symptoms.
Most common disease in kittens and cats, Ringworm develops due to exposure with an infected animal or a contaminated place. It is characterised by multiple skin abnormalities such as stubbly hair, hair color alteration, disordered hair loss, infected nails, inflamed skin, and dandruff. Treatment includes antifungal medication.
A common, infectious virus that affects the respiratory system of kittens and cats. It spreads through airborne particles which may be contracted by sneezing of an infectious cat. At the onset of calicivirus, you may notice excessive sneezing, discharge from the eyes and nose or nasal congestion. In severity, calicivirus is seen in multiple ulcers of the mouth i.e. the hard palate, tongue or lips. Supportive care is usually given to control symptoms of the disease.
An infectious, zoonotic disease in cats that spreads through swallowing undercooked meat or infected faeces of other cats. In kittens and cats, toxoplasmosis is often asymptomatic. However, people with weak immune systems or pregnant women can face moderate to severe symptoms of toxoplasmosis. If your kitten is immunocompromised, we recommend looking out for jaundiced skin, issues in balancing, chewing trouble, and ear twitching as the symptoms of the virus. Treatment includes oral antibiotics.
Though uncommon, Giardia can be highly infectious and can be untreatable if not caught early. It affects the intestinal system of kittens and can spread between cats in close contact. Giardia is characterised by dehydration, severe diarrhea, mucousy stool, and sudden weight loss. It is treated through proper oral care and keeping a serious check on the kitten's hydration.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus - FIV
This virus is considered to be the Feline AIDs - it severely weakens the immune system of cats and makes them prone to fatal infections and cancer. This disease is spread by bite wounds from other cats, so basically any cat that goes outside should be vaccinated for this virus. While this virus is very similar to the human-version of AIDs, please note that this particular virus does NOT infect humans.
Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis - Cat Flu
It’s a highly contagious virus that’s spread between cats - even if a cat recovers, it can remain a carrier for life! The primary symptoms for this virus are sneezing, coughing, and nasal and eye discharge.
Though caring for a kitten can be hard yakka, with the proper kitten vaccination schedule, a defined primary care checklist, early treatments, and unconditional love; we reckon your kitten will thrive during all its nine lives!