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Kitten Vaccination Guide

female vet examining a kitten

An important part about owning a pet is caring for their health and wellbeing. Bringing a kitten home for the first time can be overwhelming but filled with so much joy and fun! Apart from basic care of feeding, litter trays, worming and toys there is also their veterinary care. Just like puppies, kittens also require vaccinations to help prevent against diseases and at this time they will get a health check up with the vet to ensure they are healthy and growing as they should be! Vaccinating your kitten is just part of the care you can provide for them but sometimes illnesses and injuries that are out of your control may occur so do consider cat insurance for your new addition!

When you first acquire your little bundle of fluff, they will usually have had their initial vaccination and health check but they will require at least 1-2 more depending on their age and what your vet recommends. Failure to give your kitten the vaccination they require can lead to serious disease or illness. So lets get into it and discuss why and what vaccinations your kitten needs, how much this may cost and how to go about doing this.

Why are vaccinations important for kittens?

Vaccinations are both important to help prevent some diseases or to make the illness less severe for the kitten as well as getting a health check with the vet. This is a great opportunity for the vet to assess the health of your kitten and provide advice, guidance and answers to any questions you may have. Making the veterinary appointment as positive as possible can help to decrease stress for your kitten.

Vaccination schedule

Kittens require a course of 3 vaccinations which are usually given 4 weeks or 1 month apart. Their first vaccination is given at 6-8 weeks of age and during this appointment they will likely get their first health check by the vet. This is also an ideal time to get a microchip inserted. A microchip is a very small chip (about the size of a grain of rice) which is inserted under the skin between the shoulder blades. This chip can be identified by scanning and provide a unique number which is associated with the pet’s as well as the owners details.

Example Kitten Vaccination Schedule*
First Vaccination F3 vaccination – Feline Panleukopenia, Calicivirus and Herpes Virus
2nd VaccinationF3 vaccination – Feline Panleukopenia, Calicivirus and Herpes Virus
3rd VaccinationF3 vaccination – Feline Panleukopenia, Calicivirus and Herpes Virus
Annual BoosterF3 vaccination – Feline Panleukopenia, Calicivirus and Herpes Virus
* Your vet will recommend the best suited vaccination schedule for your kitten

The common core vaccine in Australia is the F3 vaccine. This vaccine helps protect your kitten against horrible diseases such as flu and enteritis ( inflammation in the intestines). The actual diseases that the F3 vaccination protects against are: Feline Panleukopenia, Feline Calicivirus and Feline Herpes Virus. Yearly or annual vaccinations are then required to ensure adequate protection and this is required for cats who use boarding facilities but I still recommend it for any cat. It is best to chat to your vet about what vaccinations your kitten or cat requires and how often they should be vaccinated as this can depend on your location and whether they have access to the outdoors or are indoors only.

Non-core vaccines are given to kittens and cats in specific risk categories so again it is best to discuss this with your vet. Common non-core vaccines include FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency virus), FeLV (Feline leukaemia virus) and Chlamydia felis.

Vaccine Preventable Diseases (which make up the F3 vaccine)

  • Feline Panleukopenia

This is a disease caused by infection with Feline Parvovirus and it is highly contagious. It can survive in the environment for up to a year and it can cause severe diarrhoea in kittens which can be deadly. The vaccine is very effective and provides complete protection against the disease.

  • Feline Calicivirus

Calicivirus is one of the viruses that causes cat flu. It tends to cause watery eyes, sneezing, mouth ulcers, fever as well as lameness. Cats that have been infected with the virus can recover from the disease, but many become lifelong carriers of the virus. It spreads easily and quickly and so vaccination is required to control it.

  • Feline Herpesvirus -1

This virus is one of the main culprits in causing cat flu. Infection causes sneezing, nasal discharge and sore watery eyes and cats can be at risk of developing secondary bacterial infections. Cats that recover from this disease can still be lifelong carriers of the virus and become sick again when stressed or immunocompromised. Vaccination helps to control the spread of the virus.

How much do vaccinations cost?

There is some variation as to how much the vaccination will cost. But you should expect to pay anywhere from $80 – $150. This will usually cover the cost and administration of the vaccine as well as a veterinary examination for your cat. This is a great opportunity to discuss any questions you may have about your kitten, especially if this is your first time owning a cat.

If you are unsure what else your cat may need such as flea and worming prevention, this should also be mentioned and your vet can recommend a parasite prevention plan dependent on your location. Your vet may also discuss desexing with you and when would be the most appropriate time to get this done for your kitten. Rescue kittens and those from the RSPCA or welfare shelter may already be desexed.

Can kittens and cats have adverse reactions to vaccines?

Severe reactions to vaccines are quite rare but mild reactions may occur. The current available feline vaccines do have an excellent safety record. If an adverse reaction does occur the common signs are lethargy, going off their food (anorexia) and possibly a fever for a few days. Cats can be a bit sensitive over the site of the injection location so best not to touch this area for a day or two.

Tips for travelling with your kitten

Some tips are to use a suitable, safe and fully contained carrier to transport your kitten in and so they can’t escape; putting a few treats in their carrier or taking a favourite toy or blanket for comfort; spraying the carrier with a feliway pheromone spray before use to promote feelings of calmness for your kitten; and lastly leaving out the carrier in the home for a few days or hours prior to your consultation and so the kitten and smell and explore it before having to travel in it for the first time.

  • Try not to feed your kitten a few hours before travel to try and prevent them toileting on the way!
  • Line your carrier with some newspaper or something disposable that can be thrown away if they do toilet in it
  • Have a suitable carrier that keeps your kitten safe and secured but with adequate ventilation
  • Don’t blast the air conditioning directly on the carrier and keep the music at a low level:)
  • Using calming products such as feliway spray which can be directly sprayed onto the carrier 30 minutes before use

 

Dr Angie with Axel

Written by Dr. Angie, the brilliant veterinary mind behind Pet Circle Insurance. With over 15 years of experience in the veterinary field and hands-on experience in handling insurance claims, Angie is a trusted and reliable source of truth when it comes to all things pet-related. Her passion for small animal medicine, nutrition, and the human-animal bond shines through in her work with the Pet Circle Veterinary Squad, where she provides top-notch advice and support to pet owners.