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What Shots To Give Kittens

When Are Kitten Shots Given

How To Administer Vaccines to Feline Patients

Did you know a kitten’s disease-fighting ability begins with a healthy mother cat? According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals , kittens take in disease-fighting antibodies from the mother cat’s milk when they nurse. Most kittens are weaned by around 8 weeks and receive their first vaccinations around the age of 6 to 8 weeks. Boosters will continue to be given every three to four weeks until the kitten reaches 16 weeks old or until the full series of vaccinations are complete.

If you adopt a cat older than that, your vet will help you identify what vaccines are recommended, what age you should begin with the shots and how long they’ll need to be given.

Getting Your Kitten Vaccinated

We recommended bringing your kitten in for their first round of vaccinations when they are between six and eight weeks old. Below is a series of vaccinations your kitten should given in three to four week intervals .

First visit

  • Fecal exam for parasites
  • Blood test for feline leukemia
  • Review nutrition and grooming
  • Vaccinations for chlamydia, calicivirus, rhinotracheitis and panleukopenia

Second visit

  • Examination and external check for parasites
  • Second vaccinations for calicivirus rhinotracheitis, and panleukopenia

Third visit

  • Second feline leukemia vaccine
  • Rabies vaccine

Vaccines Your Kitten Should Have


Adopting a new kitten means going through many milestones together, including bringing your cat home for the first time, litter training her and introducing her to other animals to name a few. Other important first steps will take place in your veterinarian’s office. From vaccinations to spaying and neutering, being a new pet parent comes with new responsibilities.

To help you prepare, here’s a list of the most common kitten vaccinations vets recommend and why they’re important for your new family member. Educate yourself first, and then work with your vet to create a vaccine schedule right for your family.

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Kitten Vaccinations: What Shots Your Kitten Needs

Between six and eight weeks of age, your kitten should see the veterinarian to begin a series of kitten vaccinations.

If youre asking, What vaccines do kittens need?, you can expect them to receive vaccines for rabies, and several rounds of vaccines for upper respiratory infections and distemper. If any cats in your home spend time outdoors or with other cats, you should also consider getting them vaccinated against the feline leukemia virus.

How Often Should Booster Vaccinations Be Given

The Vet Gives An Injection To The Kitten Subcutaneous Injection ...

In the past, veterinarians recommended booster vaccinations for cats on a yearly basis. However, as we learn more about, and improve vaccines, recommendations regarding booster frequency continue to evolve. The appropriate interval for boosters will vary with individual lifestyle.

“If your cat is at higher risk for exposure to a disease, the more frequent vaccination schedule may be recommended.”

Most adult cats that received the full booster series of vaccines as kittens should be re-vaccinated every one to three years based on a lifestyle risk assessment. That is, if your cat is at higher risk for exposure to a disease, the more frequent vaccination schedule may be recommended. It is important to thoroughly discuss your cat’s lifestyle with your veterinarian and determine the appropriate vaccinations and vaccination schedule for your cat.

The AAFP vaccination guidelines recommend that low-risk adult cats be vaccinated every three years for the corevaccines, and then as determined by your veterinarian for any non-core vaccines. Some vaccine manufacturers have developed approved three-year vaccines for many of the core vaccines. It is important to note that feline leukemia virus vaccine is recommended by some AAFP members as a core vaccine, while other experts classify it as a non-core vaccine. Your veterinarian is the ultimate authority on how your cat should be vaccinated.

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How Do Kitten Vaccines Work

When kittens are born, they receive temporary immunity from infectious diseases from their mothers. Mother cats pass on protective antibodies through their milk, which kittens absorb into their bloodstream immediately after theyre born. This immunity lasts for several weeks and then declines.

As their immune systems mature, kittens need to remain protected against disease this is where vaccines come in. Vaccines teach a kittens immune system to build antibodies against infectious diseases and help prevent future infections.

The timing of kitten vaccines is extremely important. It should be after the antibodies from their mother start to fade but not after theyre completely gone. Getting this timing right is vital to successful immunization. Kittens generally begin receiving immunizations starting at six to eight weeks old, with boosters at three to four-week intervals, completing the regiment when theyre around four months old.

Do Kittens Need Booster Vaccinations

Immune system memory drops over time and a good way to check is with Vaccicheck, which can measure some immune responses. Speak to your Medivet vet about Vaccicheck. Theres no way to measure immune responses for all diseases vaccinated against should your cat be exposed to a virus or bacteria, which is why they will need boosters for ongoing protection. Some vaccines will need annual or three yearly booster vaccinations . Talk to your vet to plan your kittens boosters.

On top of that, as cats age, just like humans, immune response can be slower and less effective. Annual vaccinations offering them a helping hand in the fight against serious disease.

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When Should My Kitten Have Their First Vaccination

Kittens need a course of two vaccinations to protect them from potentially fatal infections feline infectious enteritis and feline influenza .

There is also a vaccination that offers protection from the feline leukaemia virus which can affect the immune system.

The first injection can be given from nine weeks of age, with the second three to four weeks after the first injection.

Kittens should be kept away from other cats and stay indoors for seven days after the second injection to ensure maximum protection.

To maintain the level of protection provided by vaccination, adult cats require regular boosters. Your vet will advise on what is required and when.

Basic Vaccine Schedule For Cats

How to Vaccinate Your Cat (DrsFosterSmith)

Cat vaccinations can get confusing. Not only are there different schedules and needed vaccines for cats and kittens, but there are also some extra vaccines for different lifestyles.

Its difficult for pet parents to understand their cats vaccination schedulefrom which ones they need to how often they need them.

While there are certain mandatory, or core vaccines for cats, there are also noncore vaccines for different lifestyles or vaccines that are only recommended during the kitten years.

Your veterinarian is your best resource for figuring out the best vaccine routine for your feline family member, but this chart will help you understand the basics.

To help you navigate the world of feline vaccines, the chart covers a kittens vaccination schedule all the way into adulthood.

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Why Do Indoor Cats Need Vaccinations

If your cat lives exclusively indoors, they will still need to be vaccinated against cat flu and panleukopenia, but may not need the FeLV vaccine. This is because FeLV only usually spreads between cats in close and regular contact, but cat flu and panleukopaenia are very infectious and can spread on clothes, shoes, and other surfaces. If you have an indoor cat, discuss their vaccinations with your vet to find the best schedule for them.

Myth: Vaccines Do More Harm Than Good

Every responsible cat parent is right to make an informed decision about whats best for their pet as an individual. However, when weighing up the pros and cons of vaccination, its relevant to know the benefits far outweigh the risks.

Diseases such as cat flu, distemper, and feline leukemia are still out there and have life-changing consequences. Balance this against the risks of vaccination which can be divided into common-but-mild reactions and rare-but-serious, as outlined below.

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Lifestyle Vaccines For Cats

Some cats will need lifestyle/ non-core vaccinations depending on the lifestyle they live. Your veterinarian will let you know which ones your kitty should get. This type of vaccine protects you cat from the following conditions:

  • Feline immunodeficiency virus and Feline Leukemia – These vaccines usually are only recommended for cats that are outdoors often and protects them against viral infections which are contracted from close contact exposure.
  • Bordetella – A highly contagious bacteria that causes upper respiratory infections. Your vet might suggest this this vaccine if you are taking your cat to a boarding kennel or groomer.
  • Chlamydophila felis – This vaccination is often part of the distemper combination vaccine. It protects your cat from Chlamydia which is a bacterial infection that causes severe conjunctivitis.

Will Vaccination Always Protect My Cat

Cat Vaccinations &  Kitten Vaccinations

Vaccination will protect the vast majority of cats but under some circumstances, vaccine breakdowns will occur. Reasons for such breakdowns or apparent vaccine failure include:

Variations between different strains of viruses. This is particularly a problem for example with feline calicivirus infections, where, like the common cold in people, there are a large number of different strains. Available vaccines may only partially protect against some of these strains.

Maternally derived antibodies. Kittens acquire maternal antibodies from the mother . A well-vaccinated queen passes antibodies to her kitten, and these antibodies protect the vulnerable kitten against those diseases for the first two or three months of life. However, during this same period, those antibodies from the mother can block the effects of vaccination of the kitten, the same way they can block actual infection. This blocking effect decreases over time as the maternal antibodies gradually disappear, and occurs between 2-4 months of age. Because this time range varies between kittens, booster vaccines are recommended frequently until the kitten is older.

Some vaccine types arenot always able to completely prevent infections. Some vaccines are designed to lessen the severity of disease. Therefore, it may look like the vaccine did not work, when it actually did prevent severe disease.

These are not the only reasons for vaccination failure, but they are the most common.

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How To Vaccinate A Kitten

This article was co-authored by Pippa Elliott, MRCVS. Dr. Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian with over 30 years of experience in veterinary surgery and companion animal practice. She graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1987 with a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery. She has worked at the same animal clinic in her hometown for over 20 years.There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 26,142 times.

Regular vaccinations for your kitten are important to ensure her long-term health. Vaccines are divided into two categories core and non-core. Core vaccines are recommended for all kittens, regardless of their lifestyles. Non-core vaccines are only recommended for kittens under certain circumstances . Your veterinarian will be able to recommend which non-core vaccines your kitten should have.

What Diseases Can Vaccinations Protect Against

Cats are commonly vaccinated against:

  • Cat flu
  • Feline infectious enteritis
  • Feline leukaemia virus

Your vet can advise which vaccinations your cat or kitten will need to help protect them from infectious diseases. When you get your kitten, one of the first things you should do is register them with a local vet, who will be able to carry out the vaccinations your kitten needs.

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Why Should I Vaccinate My Kitten

Vaccinations are a crucial part of the preventative care system you should provide your kitten. By vaccinating them, you safeguard your kitten from contracting severe illnesses that can have major health implications. Many of these diseases are highly contagious and some of them cannot be treated. Its vital that you protect your kitten by building their immunity when they are young.

What Are Cat Vaccinations

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Several serious feline-specific diseases afflict many cats every year. To protect your kitten from contracting a preventable condition, its critical to have them vaccinated. Its equally imperative to follow up your kittens first vaccinations with regular booster shots during their lifetime, even if you expect Fluffy to be an indoor companion.

The aptly named booster shots boost your cats protection against a variety of feline diseases after the effects of the initial vaccine wear off. There are booster shots for different vaccines given on specific schedules. Your vet can provide advice on when you should bring your cat back for more booster shots.

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How Often Should We Vaccinate Cats

When asking What vaccines do cats needHow often do cats need shots is a question some cat owners have, who insist were over-vaccinating.

When it comes to duration of immunity, the Guidelines are pretty solid, as we have some pretty solid studies Dr. Nordone says.

However, sometimes there are no owners those are the cats who land at animal shelters. Dr. Julie Levy, professor of shelter medicine at the Maddies Shelter Medicine Program, University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, Gainesville, also served on the AAFP Panel. Its rewarding that the unique needs of shelters are reflected in the Vaccine Guidelines, she says. More cats are surviving shelters, and their health and welfare is an investment worth making. We know that cats will be saved when we vaccinate immediately. Cats are particularly prone to stress and illness in a shelter environment. Dr. Scherk adds, Regarding feline leukemia, testing cats prior to vaccination is essential to ensure negative status. Inadvertent use of FeLV vaccine in a cat infected with FeLV is not harmful, but it is also of no benefit.

The AAFP Advisory Panel recommends administering FeLV vaccines to all kittens but considers the vaccine to be noncore for cats after their one-year booster unless they are at risk of exposure because they have access to outdoors, live with known FeLV-infected cats or live in a multiple-cat environment where the status of all cats coming and going may not be known.

Are Cat Vaccinations Required By Law

Rabies is the only cat vaccination required by law in the state of NY. This is due primarily to the threat rabies poses to human beings, and the speed at which rabies can spread. Although other cat and kitten vaccinations are not legally required by law, they are important because they protect your cat from serious disease.

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Why Should I Have My Male Cat Neutered

Neutering or castration refers to the complete removal of the testicles in a male cat, and like spaying, offers health advantages:

  • Unneutered males are involved in more cat fights than their neutered friends.
  • Some male cats go through a significant personality change when they mature, becoming possessive of their territory and marking it with their urine to ward off other cats. Intruding cats that disregard the urine warning may be met with aggression.
  • The urine of an unneutered male cat has a very strong odor that is difficult to remove from your house if he marks his territory. Unneutered males will spray inside the house and will have litter box issues.
  • Fighting increases the risk of infectious diseases like feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukemia.
  • Unneutered males may be less friendly toward their human family members too.

Male cats are usually neutered between 4-6 months of age under general anesthesia. Unless there are complications such as undescended testicles , the cat may go home the same day . Cats with undescended testicles should be neutered too. The testicles still produce testosterone and these cats still act like unneutered males. These cats are at a high risk for developing cancer later in life.

How Should I Dispose Of The Needles And Syringes

Cat vaccines

You should be aware that some communities have strict rules about disposal of medical waste material, so do not throw the needle and syringe into the trash until you know if this is permissible. It is usually preferable to take the used needles and syringes to your veterinary clinic or local pharmacy for proper disposal.

Contributors: Malcolm Weir, DVM, MSc, MPH Ernest Ward, DVM

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Why Should I Get My Indoor Cat Vaccinated

Though you may not think your indoor cat requires vaccinations, by law cats must have certain vaccinations in many states. For example, a common law requires cats over the age of 6 months to be vaccinated against rabies. In return for the vaccinations, your veterinarian will provide you with a vaccination certificate, which should be stored in a safe place.

When considering your cats health, its always prudent to be cautious, as cats are often curious by nature. Our vets recommend core vaccinations for indoor cats to protect them against diseases they could be exposed to if they happen to escape the safety of your home.

Cat Vaccines

There are two basic types of vaccinations for cats.

Core vaccinations should be given to all cats, as they are essential for protecting them against the following common but serious feline conditions:


Rabies kills many mammals every year. These vaccinations are required by law for cats in most states.

Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia Typically known as the distemper shot, this combination vaccine protects against feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia.

Feline herpesvirus type I

Non-core vaccinations are appropriate for some cats depending on their lifestyle. Your vet will provide advice about which non-core vaccines your cat should have. These offer protection against:

Feline immunodeficiency virus and Feline Leukemia


Chlamydophila felis


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