If you have a feline in your pack, it’s just as important for that pet to be vaccinated as it is for a dog—even if that cat is primarily indoors. Vaccinating your cat is a relatively inexpensive but essential way to protect his or her health, and indoor pets can also be exposed to disease. It’s important to administer vaccinations to cats when they are kittens because their young immune systems are still developing and need protection to stay healthy.
While any medical treatment involves some degree of risk, in the case of vaccinations, the benefits far outweigh any potential side effects. Adverse reactions are rare and usually mild and short-term when they do occur.
Kittens should be vaccinated at 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age—we do not vaccinate cats younger than 8 weeks. Except for rabies, most other vaccinations will require a booster in 3-4 weeks; one vaccination against these diseases will not keep your pet protected. If you adopt a kitten over 12 weeks of age, he or she will only receive two vaccinations 3-4 weeks apart, then again at 1 year.
Which vaccines should your cat have? We typically recommend:
- Rhinotracheitis – a common respiratory infection in cats that can be fatal in kittens. Sneezing, decreased appetite and fever, followed by a thick discharge from the eyes and noses.
- Calicivirus – an upper respiratory infection with symptoms such as sneezing, decreased appetite and fever, thick discharge from the eyes and noses and additionally ulcers on the tongue.
- Panleukopenia – a widespread and potentially fatal disease that may cause sudden death, onset of severe vomiting and diarrhea. Especially dangerous in kittens.
- Chlamydia – another common respiratory disease producing sneezing, fever and thick discharge.
- Rabies – kittens receive their rabies vaccination typically when they are 16 weeks of age, then again within one year. Following that, rabies vaccinations are administered every three years. Proof of this vaccination is required at all boarding facilities and to return to Canada after travelling to the US. An important note: cats are more sensitive to rabies injection, so we use a Feline Rabies vaccine to reduce your pet’s risk of vaccination site problems.
- Feline Leukemia (FeLV) – Infection with this virus can cause serious disease and death in cats. FeLV decreases the ability of the immune system to respond to infection. We have several positive cases each year in Estevan and it can be found in the stray cat population.