Having a cat means having a furry friend to cuddle and purr with, but it also comes with certain responsibilities. One of those is making sure your cat stays healthy and up-to-date on all their vaccinations. Aside from having a cat dentist, they also need a vet that can give them the shots they need to stay healthy and fight off disease.
There are a few different types of vaccinations that your cat may need depending on their age, health, lifestyle, and where you live. Read on to learn more about cat vaccinations and when the best time is to get them.
Why Vaccines Are Important for Your Cats
Vaccines (such as these cat and dog shots in Lethbridge) help protect cats from diseases that can be deadly. Cats can contract these diseases from other cats, wild animals, and even people.
It works by injecting a killed or weakened form of a virus into your cat. As their immune system fights off the “invader,” they develop immunity to that particular disease. If they are ever exposed to the disease in the future, their immune system is primed and ready to fight it off, keeping them healthy and safe.
There are different types of vaccines available for cats, and your veterinarian will recommend a vaccination schedule based on your cat’s age, health, lifestyle, and risk of exposure to diseases.
The Core Vaccines Every Cat Needs
There are two vaccine types: core and non-core. Core vaccines are recommended for all cats, regardless of their lifestyle or risk of exposure to disease.
Non-core vaccines are only recommended for cats at a high risk of exposure to a certain disease.
The core vaccines you should give your cats include:
1. Feline panleukopenia (FPV, also called feline distemper)
Feline distemper is a highly contagious and deadly disease that affects all cats, indoor and outdoor. It is caused by a virus attacking the gastrointestinal system, causing severe vomiting and diarrhea. Kittens are especially vulnerable to this disease because their immune systems are not yet fully developed.
You should have your kittens vaccinated against feline distemper as soon as they are old enough. The initial vaccine is given at eight weeks, followed by a twelve-week booster shot. After that, they will need a booster shot every year for the rest of their life.
2. Feline calicivirus (FCV)
Feline calicivirus is another highly contagious virus that can cause respiratory infections in cats, including rhinotracheitis (a viral upper respiratory infection). This virus is often spread through direct contact with an infected cat or through contact with contaminated surfaces, such as food bowls or litter boxes.
Cats of all ages can be vaccinated against feline calicivirus, but kittens are particularly vulnerable to this disease. Three FVC shots are recommended for cats. The initial shot should be given at eight weeks, and then two more booster shots, given four weeks apart. After that, cats will need a yearly booster shot.
3. Feline leukemia virus (FeLV)
Feline leukemia virus is a fatal virus that attacks a cat’s immune system, making them susceptible to other diseases. This virus is often spread through close contact with an infected cat, such as sharing food bowls or litter boxes. It can also be spread through biting and fighting.
Cats exposed to this virus are outdoor cats or live in multi-cat households. They should be vaccinated, with the initial vaccine given at eight weeks, followed by two booster shots four weeks apart. Kittens will need a booster shot every year for the rest of their life, while adult cats will need a booster every three years.
4. Feline herpesvirus type 1 (FHV-1)
Feline herpesvirus type 1 is a virus that causes upper respiratory infections in cats, including rhinotracheitis. It is one of the most common viruses affecting cats and can cause severe illness, especially in young kittens.
This virus is often spread through direct contact with an infected cat or through contact with contaminated surfaces, such as food bowls or litter boxes.
Cats of all ages can be vaccinated against FHV-1, but kittens are particularly vulnerable to this disease. Three FHV-1 shots are recommended for cats, with the initial shot given at six to eight weeks and then an additional dose every three to four weeks until 16 to 20 weeks of age. After that, cats will need a yearly booster shot.
Rabies is a fatal virus that affects the brain and nervous system. It is most commonly spread through the bite of an infected animal, such as a bat or raccoon.
All cats should be vaccinated against rabies, with the initial vaccine given at four months of age. Kittens under four months of age should receive two doses of the vaccine, given three to four weeks apart. After that, cats will need a booster shot every year for the rest of their life.
Choosing the Right Vet
Not all vets are the same. You must choose one who you feel comfortable with and trust.
Consider touring the facility, meeting the staff, and asking questions. You should also find out if the vet has experience caring for cats and whether they are up-to-date on the latest feline health information. If they have specialists like this veterinary internist in Lethbridge, you know they can provide the best care for your cat.
It’s also good to get referrals from friends or family members who have cats. Once you’ve found a vet you’re comfortable with, stick with them for all of your cat’s healthcare needs.
As a Summary
Vaccinations are important for cats as they help protect them from potentially fatal diseases. The best time to vaccinate your cat is between six and eight weeks, with booster shots every three to four weeks until 16 to 20 weeks of age.
After that, cats will need a yearly booster shot. Choosing a vet you trust and feel comfortable with ensures your cat receives the best possible care.