According to International Cat Care, kitten vaccinations are generally a very safe procedure that has substantially reduced the impact of several very serious diseases. However, as with any other product, no vaccine can ever be entirely without side effects so it is important to carefully choose which vaccines are necessary for any individual cat and to evaluate how frequently they should be given. You can discuss all these issues with your vet.
What diseases can and should I vaccinate my kitten against?
The availability of different vaccines will vary between different countries, because some diseases are not present everywhere, and because vaccines are not necessarily licensed (and therefore available) in every country.
The Australian Veterinary Association’s position statement on dog and cat vaccinations says: core vaccines should be administered to all animals to protect them against severe, life-threatening diseases that have a global distribution.
Dogs: Canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus and canine parvovirus. More on canine infectious diseases.
How are vaccines administered to a cat or kitten?
A vaccine is usually given by an injection under the skin, although sometimes may be given as drops into the eyes or nose. It is a preparation designed to provide protection against a specific infectious disease through stimulating an immune response that will protect the cat if it is subsequently exposed to the infection.
How many kitten vaccinations does my kitten need to have?
All kittens should receive their core vaccinations and any others that are agreed between you and your vet. The initial vaccine course is often started at 8-9 weeks of age, with a second injection 3-4 weeks later. It is now common also to recommend a third vaccination (especially for FPV) at 16-20 weeks of age to ensure the kitten is properly protected.
A first booster vaccination should be given 12 months later to ensure a good level of continuing protection. However, after that, the frequency of booster vaccinations may be only every 1-3 years depending on the vaccine, disease and risk of with the individual cat.
Cats that stay at a boarding cattery will generally require an annual vaccination (or booster vaccine before the cat goes into the cattery) as this is a higher risk situation.
More about vaccinations for indoor cats.