What Is the Vaccination Schedule For Cats & Kittens?

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You're a responsible cat parent and that's why your cat loves you so much. A critical part of caring for your cat is vaccinating your kitty against disease. Kittens need vaccines because the antibodies in their mom's milk decrease around 6-8 weeks, leaving them vulnerable. Adult cats need vaccines because most scary cat diseases out there are totally preventable.

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What vaccinations does my kitten need?

Your kitten will need three vaccines.‌ The FVRCP vaccine is vital since it protects against three feline viruses: rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia (more commonly known as distemper). You'll also need vaccines to prevent rabies and feline leukemia, both of which can be fatal. Here's a schedule for your kitten's vaccinations.

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  • 8 Weeks: FVRCP vaccine
  • 12 Weeks: FVRCP booster, FeLV (Feline Leukemia) vaccine
  • 16 Weeks: FVRCP booster, FeLV booster, and rabies vaccine
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What vaccinations does my cat need? And how often?

Consult your veterinarian about vaccinating your adult cat. Your care provider will want to consider the age and health of your cat, as well as the cat's risk of exposure to disease. ‌The core vaccines that every cat should get: feline panleukopenia (distemper), feline viral rhinotracheitis, feline calicivirus, and rabies.‌ According to this handy graph from PetCoach.com, you can expect to vaccinate against feline panleukopenia (distemper), feline viral rhinotracheitis, and feline calicivirus every three years. A rabies vaccination will depend on the vaccine itself as well as the cat. Again, your vet will be able to help you!

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Image Credit: Pet Education
Image Credit: Pet Education

What common side effects should I look for?

The following reactions are fairly common. These reactions usually start within a few hours to several days after vaccination and last no more than a few days. Of course, consult your vet if you suspect your kitty isn't alright.

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  • Discomfort where the kitty got poked
  • Mild fever
  • Low appetite and activity
  • If the vaccine was given in the nose, your kitty may start sneezing four to seven days afterward
  • Swelling under the skin where your kitty got the vaccine. It should go away after a few weeks, but consult your vet.

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How much are these vaccinations going to cost?

The cost of these vaccinations will differ, but they're generally not too expensive. And really, your cat is totally worth it! Think of all the money you totally waste on your cat. Vaccines are something he or she needs to be healthy! Plan on spending anywhere between $50 to $100 during the first year according to Vetinfo. Yearly booster vaccinations can cost anywhere between $10 to $50 per year.

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The bottom line

Vaccines protect against disease that can seriously harm your kitten or cat if they develop the disease. Important vaccines protect against rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, panleukopenia (more commonly known as distemper), rabies, and feline leukemia. In kittens, vaccines are given at 8, 12, and 16 weeks. Older cats' needs can vary based on their age and risk, so talk to your veterinarian about the vaccination schedule that is right for your cat.

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