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Doctor's Hours: Monday - Friday: 9:00am-12:00pm and 3:00pm - 6:00pm
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Cat Vaccinations - Everything You Should Know

Vet in the WoodlandsThe importance of vaccinations to the overall health and longevity of your cat cannot be understated. Cat vaccines are medically and scientifically proven to combat the incubation and transmission of crippling and fatal feline diseases. Our veterinary staff is dedicated to educating people about the importance of cat vaccinations, including what cat vaccines are necessary, and when they should be scheduled.

It is important to note that our doctors don't follow a 'one size fits all' protocol for immunizations, but rather treat each patient as an individual and recommend the best possible protocols for that particular cat by looking at their risk factors such as age, overall health and lifestyle.

Over the years we have fielded many questions about cat vaccinations from concerned kitten and cat owners. Here, we have compiled some of the most frequently asked questions to help you better understand the issues surrounding cat vaccinations. This is only meant to be a general introduction to cat vaccinations, so please consult with one of our veterinarians during your next visit for specific information regarding kitten vaccinations or cat vaccinations where your feline is concerned.

Are Kitten Vaccinations And Cat Vaccinations Necessary?

The answer is yes. A kitten or cat owner is responsible for the wellbeing of their feline friend - this includes happiness and longevity of life. Cat vaccinations are an integral component in the longevity equation. Kitten vaccinations and cat vaccinations are medically and scientifically proven to prevent various insidious diseases.

Are Cat Vaccinations Required By Law?

Rabies is the only cat vaccination required by law in the state of TX. This is due primarily to the threat rabies poses to human beings, and the speed at which rabies can spread. Although other cat and kitten vaccinations are not legally required by law, they are important because they protect your cat from serious disease.

What Cat Vaccines Are Recommended?

The American Association of Feline Practitioners has determined what vaccinations should be administered for cats. You should discuss what vaccinations are necessary for your cat at your next visit. However, the following vaccinations are commonly recommended:

Rabies- An acute and fatal viral infection of the central nervous system that can affect any mammal. Cats are the most commonly reported rabid domestic animal in the US. Transmission is almost always by the bite of an infected animal. Symptoms include unexplained paralysis that worsens over time and sudden behavioral changes that can include sudden loss of appetite, signs of apprehension or nervousness, irritability, hyperexcitability, a social dog that becomes anti-social or an otherwise unfriendly animal may become friendly.

Feline Viral and Rhinotracheitis (FVR) Feline Calicivirus (FCV) infection- These can both cause a severe upper respiratory infection that can kill kittens, old cats, and immune depressed cats, and make an otherwise healthy cat very sick. Signs include discharge from the eyes and nose, inflammation of the eye lining, ulcerations of the mouth and nose, and infection of the lower respiratory tract (pneumonitis).

Feline Panleukopenia Also known as Feline Distemper- This virus is actually the precursor to Canine Parvovirus. This is an easily transmitted disease with high death rates in unprotected cats and kittens. The virus mounts a widespread attack on the major body organs, particularly the intestinal tract. Lymphoid tissue and bone marrow are also targets of this infection. Cats with Panleukopenia exhibit a variety of signs, including depression, fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and in kittens, central nervous system involvement.

Feline Leukemia Virus- A highly contagious virus that is the leading cause of pet cat deaths. It can cause several disease syndromes. Leukemia is only one of the outcomes of this disease. Another cancer, Lymphosarcoma, is more common. Feline Leukemia also causes AIDS-like syndrome, where the cat is immune-compromised and cannot fight off even the most common infections (especially those diseases that we vaccinate for).

Feline AIDS Virus- A less contagious virus that Feline Leukemia, this disease shows similar signs. This virus is related to the human AIDS virus but has shown no indication of being dangerous to humans. There is no vaccine for this virus at this time, so the best preventative measure is to keep your cat away from infected cats.

What Are The Recommended Kitten And Cat Vaccination Schedules?

Kitten vaccinations and cat vaccinations are dependent upon several factors, including preexisting medical conditions and indoor or outdoor living situations. You should always discuss these factors with a veterinarian to determine what your cat vaccine schedule should be. However, we have listed an approximate cat vaccine schedule here for an 'average' indoor housecat to give you an idea of a cat vaccination timeline:

Kitten Vaccinations

Adult Cat Vaccinations

Vaccines are given to your cat one year after the end of the kitten series. Combination Vaccine FVRCP, or feline distemper, FeLV for felines at risk of exposure to feline leukemia virus (cats that are unsupervised outdoors), and rabies annually as required by law.

*A combination vaccine includes feline distemper, rhinotracheitis, and calicivirus.

**According to the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Feline Practitioners, cats at low risk of disease exposure may not need to be boostered yearly for most diseases. Consult with the veterinarian at your next visit to determine the appropriate vaccination schedule for your cat. Remember, recommendations vary depending on the age, breed, and health status of the cat, the potential of the cat to be exposed to the disease, the type of vaccine, whether the cat is used for breeding, and the geographical area where the cat lives or may visit.

Are There Risks Associated With Cat Vaccinations?

Cat vaccinations stimulate your kitten or cat's immune system in order to create protection from specific infectious diseases. This can cause mild symptoms to occur ranging from soreness at the injection site to fever and allergic reactions. Cat vaccinations can cause other risks like injection site tumors and immune disease, however, such incidences are extremely rare and can be linked to pre-existing genetic and medical conditions. Because of the potential for injection site reactions, we give each vaccine in a specific location that is noted in the cat's medical record.

The fact is, the rewards of cat vaccinations far outweigh any risks. Cat 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 negative side effects. In most cases, the risks are much smaller than the risks of disease itself.

Are There Any Side Effects I Should Watch For After Cat Vaccination?

Most cats show no ill side effects from receiving a cat vaccine. If your cat does have a reaction, they are usually minor and short-lived. However, you should still be on the lookout for the following symptoms that might indicate negative side effects from a cat vaccine:

  • Fever
  • Severe lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Swelling and redness around the injection site
  • Lameness
  • Hives

If you suspect your cat is experiencing any ill side effects from his or her cat vaccine, call us immediately so we can help you to determine whether any special care is needed.

Vet in the WoodlandsWhen Should I Schedule Kitten Vaccinations And Cat Vaccinations?

You should schedule your kitten vaccinations as soon as you get your new kitten. Regardless of age, your new kitten should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. It is important to get a preventive health care plan in place including vaccinations, deworming and flea control. In addition, we will spend time discussing behavioral training to make sure your kitten develops good behaviors and becomes a great pet.

Plan on spending at least thirty minutes at your first visit. This is a great time to get all your questions answered on kitten care and discuss the recommended preventive program with our veterinary team.

An adult cat vaccination schedule, which includes periodic booster immunizations, will be scheduled one year after the kitten vaccination schedule has been completed.

As with any other immunization protocol, a cat vaccination schedule should be adhered to without deviation, in order to ensure your cat remains healthy and well for the duration of his or her life. We cannot control all health issues but we can prevent the majority of infectious disease with the proper vaccine schedule.

Schedule A Cat Vaccination Appointment With One Of Our Veterinarians Today

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