While nobody likes getting stuck with a needle, vaccinations protect your cat against many serious diseases and are worth the jab. Most cat vaccines require a single injection followed by one or more boosters, but that depends on several different factors. Your vet can tell you what your cat needs.
Your cat should be vaccinated against diseases such as feline panleukopenia, calicivirus and herpes type I virus. These diseases can kill her or make her seriously ill, and the shots will prevent or minimize the problems they can cause. Typically she should have these basic vaccines in all cases, but she may not need other shots, such as those for feline leukemia, Chlamydia, ringworm and infectious peritonitis. All cats should be vaccinated against rabies. Be aware that even indoor cats may be exposed various illnesses, so be sure to vaccinate your cat according to your vet’s recommendations.
The purpose of cat booster shoots is to build up your cat’s immune system to the point that she is able to fight off any of these viral diseases if she encounters them. While the first shot she gets begins the process, boosters help to raise her antibody levels to where they offer maximum protection for your cat, and to make sure the levels stay high. Some boosters need to be given annually, but other boosters only have to be given once every three years.
Your kitten should get her first shots as soon as you get her, unless she’s had some before she comes home. After that, she needs a booster shot every three to four weeks until she is 16 to 18 weeks old, then once every one to three years. This is necessary because you can’t really tell when the maternal antibodies wear off, though blood tests designed to check are becoming more common, and as long as she has the protection from her mother the shots won’t do any good. The boosters make sure your kitten is covered when her mom’s antibodies stop working for her.
The American Veterinary Medical Association says there are some risks associated with vaccinating your cat, though the benefits of vaccinating her typically outweigh the risks. She may have some mild reactions, such as sneezing, fever or swelling at the injection site. An allergic reaction to the shot could cause her to stop breathing, but such reactions are rare. She may also develop a cancerous tumor known as a sarcoma at the site, but again, this is pretty rare. Discuss any concerns with your vet before your cat gets her shots.
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