Before you pick up your new kitten and take it home, make sure that they have had their first vaccination. Kittens should receive their first vaccination between 6 to 8 weeks of age. This first vaccination starts to build your kitten's defenses against any potentially serious diseases.
How do Vaccines work?
Vaccines or vaccinations work by stimulating the animal's immune system so that their body's natural defenses are prepared and fully equipped with antibodies to fight against any diseases. Unfortunately, if your cat is not properly vaccinated, their body's immune system will not be armed to fight off any virus or bacterial infection.
What is the best Vaccination Schedule?
Kittens should have a course of three vaccinations, normally given 4 weeks apart:
- 6 – 8 Weeks: First Vaccination (Temporary)
- 10 – 12 Weeks: Booster Vaccination
- 14 – 16 Weeks: Final Vaccination
Adult cats require an annual vaccination booster for life. Your vet clinic will send you a reminder a few weeks before your cat is due for their yearly booster.
What do vaccinations protect against?
Cats need to be protected against the following serious and sometimes fatal diseases:
- Feline Enteritis: This is the most common disease that affects cats. It is highly contagious and life-threatening, especially in kittens under 12 months of age. The most common symptoms are high fever, depression, dehydration, severe stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration.
- Feline Respiratory Disease (Cat Flu): Cats of all ages can contract this disease as it is highly contagious. Symptoms include sneezing, nasal discharge, runny eyes, coughing, loss of appetite, and ulcers on their tongues, in their mouths, and on their noses. If left untreated, this disease can cause severe dehydration.
- Feline Calicivirus: This virus can cause respiratory signs, fever, drooling, ulcers of the mouth and footpads, pneumonia, diarrhea, arthritis, and neurologic signs.
- Feline Distemper or Feline Panleukopenia: These diseases are not very common in Australia; however, vets still see the occasional case. This viral disease is contagious and can cause high fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. Unfortunately, it is often fatal in young kittens. It is also important to know that the feline distemper virus is not the same as the canine distemper virus.
- Feline Chlamydia: Chlamydia is an organism that causes eye disease, most commonly seen in young kittens under 9 months of age. Symptoms of Chlamydia include discharge from the eyes and nose, sore red eyes, high temperature, coughing, heavy breathing, enlarged lymph nodes, loss of appetite, sudden weight loss, and depression.
If your kitten is going to socialize outside, we recommend speaking to your vet about an FIV Vaccination. The FIV Vaccination requires a course of 3 vaccinations, usually given at 10, 12 & 14 weeks of age. Cats being vaccinated for FIV after 6 months will require a blood test before receiving the vaccination.
FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) – While FIV cannot be transmitted between cats and humans, it acts in the same way as HIV does in humans. It is a blood-borne viral infection that destroys the immune system, leaving a cat susceptible to infections and disease. The symptoms of FIV include sores, lesions, and diarrhea progressing to severe chronic infections as the immune system is overcome. There is no treatment or cure for the virus itself.