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Vaccinating kittens: what, why and when?

It is recommended to have your kitten vaccinated in order to protect it against diseases. It is important to know how this works, why you need to vaccinate your kitten and when it is best to do it. This article will explain.

How to vaccinate my kitten?

The only person able to vaccinate your kitten is the vet. You will need to make an appointment with your vet or pet clinic. You can treat it for worms and fleas yourself with a worm regimen and an anti-flea agent.

What is a vaccination?

A vaccination is an agent (sometimes a low dose of the pathogen), which stimulates the body to create antibodies without making the animal ill. If the vaccinated cat is exposed to an infection later on, it is better protected against the pathogens. The body is able to combat the culprit more quickly and effectively which minimises the risk of illness.

Why vaccinate a kitten?

A kitten gets its antibodies via the mother’s milk, but after a couple of weeks this is not longer enough to be properly protected. It is highly recommended to have your kitten vaccinated for it to grow up properly and in good health. Especially against cat diseases (feline herpes virus) and cat flu (feline calicivirus). These are frequently occurring and life-threatening diseases for cats. Especially young cats run the risk of succumbing to these afflictions.

Antibody titration

The objective of vaccination is to have the immune system respond by producing antibodies. But the success rate is not 100%. Vaccinations may cause annoying side-effects. You can have your cat or kitten titered to make sure that doesn’t happen. Titration involves drawing blood to see how many antibodies your cat’s blood contains. Titration and checking the body of your cat for antibodies allows for prevention of unnecessary vaccinations.

When to vaccinate a kitten?

The basic vaccination consists of inoculation against feline herpes and feline calicivirus. Below an overview of when to vaccinate your cat and when to give it the follow-up vaccination:

Cat's Age Vaccination Against
1 9 weeks Feline herpes and feline calicivirus
2 12 weeks Feline herpes and feline calicivirus
3 1 year Feline herpes and feline calicivirus
4 2/3/5/6/8 years Feline calicivirus
5 4/7 year Feline herpes and feline calicivirus

Vaccination against feline calicivirus needs to be repeated every year. For feline herpes, once every three years is enough. These vaccinations are mandatory when you take your cat to a cattery for a holiday or extended absence.

What else can I vaccinate my cat against?

Apart from the basic vaccinations against feline herpes and feline calicivirus, you can also vaccinate your cat against: rabies, cat leukaemia (leukosis), contagious peritonitis (FIP) and chlamydiosis (or chlamydophila felis). Because rabies can be transferred from cats (and other animals) onto humans, it is also important for your own health to have your (outdoor) cat vaccinated preventively.

Attention: When taking your cat abroad, your cat must always be vaccinated against rabies. This is recorded in the pet passport.

Does an indoor cat also require vaccination?

An indoor cat isn’t in contact with other cats and other (wild) animals as much; for that reason, you don’t need to have these cats vaccinated against all diseases. But the basic vaccinations against feline herpes and feline calicivirus are certainly recommended for indoor cats as well. Because you can bring the pathogens inside, for example under your shoes.

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