Top five things you should know about vaccinating your cat
1. Cats are at risk of a range of nasty diseases that can be prevented through vaccination including cat 'flu (viral and/or bacterial), feline leukaemia and Feline panleukopenia virus (FPV). Millions of doses of cat vaccine are given every year and side effects from vaccination are very rare. The most common side effects are mild, and include lethargy, temporarily reduced appetite or tenderness at the injection site, usually lasting no longer than a few days.
2. Your kitten should be vaccinated around nine weeks of age, with the all-important second dose being given at 12 weeks. Vets also recommend a third vaccination (against Feline panleukopenia virus) at 16-20 weeks of age to ensure your kitten is fully protected.
3. A booster vaccination a year after your kitten’s first vaccination is vital to retain the initial level of immunity. Regular boosters throughout a cat's life will then help maintain a good level of protection against cat 'flu, feline parvovirus and feline leukaemia. Your vet will advise you on the frequency of these boosters according to your cat’s individual need.
4. Even house cats need vaccination against certain diseases such as Feline infectious enteritis (a severe and often fatal gut infection) which are rife in the environment and can spread through the air, be carried on your hands or clothes. These pathogens can survive in shared spaces for long periods. There is also the risk of potential disease if a new pet is introduced into your home. The risks from many diseases may be lower than for cats who go outside but you should consult your vet about the diseases your house cat should be vaccinated against.
5. For cats going to stay at a cattery, vaccination is very important as this is a higher risk situation where disease can easily be spread. A well-run cattery will usually ask to see that your cat’s vaccination certificate is up to date and vaccination and boosters have been given for diseases including Feline panleucopenia virus (FPV) Feline herpesvirus (FHV), and Feline calicivirus (FCV).