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Healthy Cats

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Vaccinations for Kittens and Cats

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Are Any Vaccines Required By Law?

Each state has its own laws governing the administration of the rabies vaccine. Some areas require yearly rabies vaccination. Other areas call for vaccines every three years. In almost all states, proof of rabies vaccination is mandatory.

How Often Should My Adult Cat Be Vaccinated?

Your veterinarian can best determine a vaccination schedule for your cat. This will depend on the type of vaccine, your cat’s age, medical history, environment and lifestyle. Adult cats might be revaccinated annually or every three years.

When Should My Kitten Be Vaccinated?

Kittens automatically receive antibodies in the milk their mother produces if their mother has a healthy immune system. These antibodies help protect against infectious disease until the kitten's own immune system develops. When the kitten is around six to eight weeks of age, your veterinarian can begin to administer a series of vaccines at three- or four-week intervals until the kitten reaches 16 weeks of age.

Are There Any Risks Associated with Vaccines?

Immunizations are supposed to mildly stimulate the animal’s immune system in order to create protection from specific infectious diseases. This stimulation can create mild symptoms, ranging from soreness at the injection site to fever and allergic reactions. There are other, less common side effects like injection site tumors and immune disease associated with vaccination. That said, it is important to realize that vaccines have saved countless lives, and play a vital role in the battle against feline infectious disease. As with any medical procedure, there is a small chance of side effects. In most cases, the risks are much smaller than the risks of disease itself. But it is important to talk to your veterinarian about your cat’s medical history before he is vaccinated.

What Symptoms Should I Look For?

Most cats show no ill effect from vaccination. Vaccine reactions are usually minor and short-lived. Clinical signs include:

  • Fever
  • Sluggishness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Swelling and redness around the injection site
  • Lameness


What Should I Do If I ThinkMy Cat is Having an Adverse Reaction to a Vaccine?

If you suspect your cat is having a reaction to a vaccine, call your veterinarian immediately.



WebMD Veterinary Reference from the ASPCA

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