Vaccinations, when given regularly, give your cat long-term protection against serious and sometimes fatal infectious diseases. A vaccine works by mimicking either the particular virus or the bacteria that causes disease. This then primes the body's own immune response, so that it is ready and prepared to fight any future infection if challenged by that same virus or bacteria.
Your vet will be able to advise you on the type of vaccinations your cat should receive and how often. Generally, kittens can begin vaccinations at 9-10 weeks of age, so schedule a visit to your vet as soon as you can after obtaining your new arrival. They will need another vaccination at 12 weeks old. Most kitten vaccines are given as part of a series of injections to stimulate optimum immune response. Thereafter booster vaccinations at regular intervals, as recommended by your vet, are strongly advised to ensure continuing immunity.
Your vet will provide you with a record of vaccination, showing the vaccines that have been administered to your cat, and the dates that the next booster is due. This is an important document so please keep it safe, maybe with your pet insurance policy documents.
The following are some of the diseases that can be vaccinated against:
Feline infectious enteritis (FIE)
Feline infectious enteritis (a severe and often fatal gut infection) is caused by the feline parvovirus (or feline panleukopenia virus). Vaccination against FIE has been very successful. Unvaccinated cats are at great risk because the virus is widespread in the environment.
Two types of cat 'flu are vaccinated against feline herpesvirus (FHV-1) and feline calicivirus (FCV). These viruses are very common and vaccination will protect your cat against prolonged illness, but because there are many different strains of cat 'flu the vaccine will not totally eradicate the threat.
Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV)
FeLV is a lifelong infection and unfortunately most cats will die within three years of diagnosis, usually from a subsequent disease like leukaemia, lymphoma (tumors) or progressive anaemia. It is not an airborn disease and can only be passed on via direct contact between cats (usually by saliva or bites) so it absolutely vital for cats who spend time outdoors or time with other cats.
This bacterium, which causes conjunctivitis in cats, can't survive in the atmosphere and is thus spread by direct contact between cats (affecting outdoor cats, multi-cat households and kittens predominately). Your vet will discuss your situation and advise as to whether this vaccine is necessary.
If you suspect your cat is having a bad reaction to a vaccine, call your veterinarian immediately