Are you a new kitten owner that’s ready to dip your claw into the world of vaccinations? You’ve come to the right place to learn about vaccinating your kitten. Join FirstVet vet Dr Jessica May as she takes a look at why vaccinating is important, along with which injections they need and how often they need them. Oh, and of course, when it’s safe to unleash your curious cat into the world…
Let’s jump in with all four paws on why you need to vaccinate your kitten. Vets advise that your frisky new feline should be vaccinated to help keep them safe from diseases like feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), which could be fatal to their delicate immune system.
Vaccinating your kitten may also reduce the likelihood of any diseases passing on to other cats. Once your kitten has had their initial inoculations, vets recommend that you continue to maintain a regular vaccination schedule into adulthood and their senior years.
Many pet insurance providers may not offer cover for conditions which could have been prevented with vaccinations, so don’t forget to check your policy wording.
Your unvaccinated kitten could be around a healthy vaccinated cat but it may be wise to err on the side of caution. Vets often recommend to keep your kitten inside the house and away from other cats outside of the household until a few weeks (or your vet’s recommended wait time) after their primary vaccination course.
While your new feline is still growing and developing, they’ll be at a higher risk of getting ill. If your kitten hasn’t had their injections yet, it’s important to keep them away from other unvaccinated kittens and cats.
All kittens in the UK commonly need vaccinations against cat flu and feline parvovirus. If your cat will be exploring the great outdoors, vets will also recommend giving them a vaccination against feline leukaemia virus.
Don’t forget to check your country’s individual requirements if you’re not based in the UK.
Cat flu is the common name for feline influenza, a contagious illness that’s similar to the human flu which can be serious in kittens.
Feline parvovirus is a potentially fatal virus which is similar to canine parvovirus. It attacks your kitten’s immune system, the lining of their intestines, and sometimes their heart.
Feline leukaemia virus is another serious disease which attacks the immune system, making your kitten more susceptible to catching other infections.
If you’re planning on travelling with your curious kitty outside of the UK, they’re legally required to get a rabies vaccination and get regular boosters. Rabies is a potentially fatal disease that spreads through saliva and can cause weakness, seizures, paralysis, and sensory sensitivity, to name but a few.
Some kittens may also need to be vaccinated against feline chlamydia, a bacteria which is passed on through contact with infected cats. It’s symptoms are similar to cat flu and include fever, lethargy, conjunctivitis, weepy eyes, and sneezing.
Kittens need a primary course of vaccinations to keep them safe and healthy. This normally involves two injections, though may sometimes include three depending on risk.
The first injection can be given from nine weeks of age. The second injection is given around two – four weeks after the first one.
After your kitten has been given their primary course of vaccinations, vets advise to keep up with annual boosters to maintain protection against these infections. Some booster vaccinations may only need to be given every couple of years, and your vet will discuss these with you.
How much kitten vaccinations cost varies between vet practices, so get in touch with your local practice for their pricing listing. The UK average is around £60 for their primary course but this will differ depending on your location.
Many vets give you the option to join a healthcare plan where you can pay a monthly amount that covers annual checkups, vaccinations, and flea and worming treatments.
Your kitten will usually be fully protected against the infections we mentioned around two weeks after they finish their primary vaccination course. Until then, keep them indoors (yes, we know they may be hiss-terical to get out and explore, just be patient!).
Blue Cross recommends that you wait until your kitten is five months old before you unleash them into the world, as by this time they’re nearly fully grown.
Keep in mind that microchipping your kitten is compulsory under the new animal welfare plan, and getting this done means that your bold feline can be identified if they get lost while exploring new places.
Because kittens can climb and so may be able to escape your garden, you might want to wait until they’re fully vaccinated before letting them into your backdoor jungle. After all, you don’t want your little rascal pulling an escape artist trick on you.
Letting your kitten go outside before they’ve had their vaccinations could mean they pick up a virus, as they’re not yet protected. Speak to your vets for advise, and they will be able to recommend if your kitten needs a health check.
If your kitten has missed their second vaccination, take them to the vet. Depending on how overdue they are, they may still be able to be given the injection. A longer delay between injections in their primary course could mean that their immune system isn’t as active, and so they might need additional doses.
Most kittens are absolutely fine after getting their vaccinations. There is a rare chance that they may experience side effects, which tend to be mild and pass within 24 – 48 hours. Symptoms may include lack of appetite, lethargy, sneezing, coughing, and a slight fever.
More serious reactions and side effects are extremely rare. If you have any concerns, speak to your vet and they will be happy to discuss things with you.
Vets recommend that your kitten comes into the clinic for vaccinations to be carried out by a medical professional, to ensure they’re given safely and correctly. On rare occasions, your kitten may need to be vaccinated at home, but this is done only by recommendation from your vet.
At your kitten’s appointment, your vet will discuss some different ways you can keep them safe and healthy, such as:
Raise a claw if you want a happy and healthy kitten! As do we, which is why we offer lifetime kitten insurance.