One of the most important things you can do for your cat is to be sure its health is protected. Cat vaccinations can protect your cat from many common cat ailments.
You should begin vaccinating your kitten when he is six to eight weeks old. Before this time, his mother’s antibodies have been protecting him from many of the diseases that vaccinations protect against. However, now that he is weaned, he will need to develop his own antibodies.
On your kitten’s first veterinarian visit, your veterinarian will give him a physical examination. He should also complete a fecal exam to be sure your kitten doesn’t have worms. Before your veterinarian vaccinates your kitten, he should do a blood test to be sure the kitten is not already infected with Feline Leukemia. He may also test for Feline Infectious Peritonitis. The tests do not take long. Your veterinarian will have preliminary results in minutes. If your kitten is not already infected with one of these diseases, your veterinarian will give your kitten his first Feline Leukemia and FIP vaccines if he is at risk for these diseases. An only cat who never leaves his home may not need these two vaccines and your veterinarian may recommend against giving them.
However, your kitten should receive his first FVRCPC vaccine whether he leaves the house or not. This vaccine is actually a combination of several vaccines. FVRCPC protects kittens from rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, panleudopenia and chlamydia.
Your kitten should visit your veterinarian again in two to four weeks, when he is eight to twelve weeks old. At this time, he will get a second FVRCPC vaccine and a second FIP and Feline Leukemia vaccine. If he was wormed during his first visit, he will also receive his second worming. Kittens who are twelve weeks old and spend time outdoors should also receive their first Rabies vaccine at this time.
The third visit to your kitten’s veterinarian should occur when he is ten to sixteen weeks old. During this visit, he will receive his third FVRCPC vaccine. Kittens who were too young to receive their first Rabies vaccine on their second visit should be given the vaccine this time.
Once your kitten has completed his third set of FVRCPC vaccines, he will not need any more injections until he is one year old. At that time, he will need a Rabies and FVRCPC vaccine. As long as the Rabies shot is given within one year of the first Rabies vaccine, it will be good for three years. However, your cat will need to return for a FVRCPC vaccine each year. If your cat received FIP and Feline Leukemia vaccines as a kitten, he will also receive boosters for these shots when he is one year of age.
While vaccines are usually safe, some of them do occasionally have side effects. Feline Leukemia vaccines can actually cause a form of cancer at the injection site. This is the reason most veterinarians do not recommend giving the vaccine to cats who are not at risk. Other vaccines can also occasionally cause tumors at the vaccination site. Many times, the tumor can be removed before it spreads. This side effect is rare enough that the risk of catching a disease without vaccinations is much higher. If you notice a lump develop at the injection site, tell your veterinarian, as these lumps usually are a simple reaction to the injection, but can develop into a tumor.