Getting your cat vaccinated is vital for its health. It can train your cat’s immune system to recognize specific diseases and fight against them. Read on to learn everything you need to know about vaccines for cats.
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Vaccines are known to “train” the immune system to recognize infectious agents and activate specific cells to fight them. Once a vaccinated cat interacts with such agents, it generates antibodies and activates the cells to recognize and fight the agents.
Vaccines are considered to be one of the greatest inventions in medicine, but none of the vaccines are 100% effective, as their effectiveness can differ depending on the cat. Therefore, it is important to minimize your cat’s exposure to stray cats and infectious areas.
Kittens are prone to diseases more due to their weak immune system. Vaccinating kittens at the right time will minimize their risk of suffering from infections.
Kittens are supposed to be vaccinated between 6 - 8 weeks of age. Getting kittens vaccinated earlier than 6 weeks old would not be useful as mother’s milk is still protecting them. It’s highly important to get the right vaccinations at the right time.
Adult cats with an unknown vaccination background should be considered unvaccinated. The evaluation of an adult cat when it comes to vaccinations depends on the cat’s exposure to infectious agents. They still require vaccinations that are given to kittens.
There are always different risks associated with vaccinations, just like any other medical intervention.
After receiving a vaccine, your cat may show symptoms like decreased appetite, slight fever, lethargy, swelling in the injection area, etc. Such symptoms should disappear in a couple of days. If the symptoms do not disappear, and you feel something might be wrong, you should immediately contact your vet.
Although it’s rare, some cats can be allergic to vaccines and show symptoms like itchiness, hives, mild fever, and swelling in the neck, eyes, and lips. Severe allergic reactions include; breathing difficulties, pale gums, weakness, collapse, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you see any of these symptoms in your cat, call your vet immediately.
There are many different vaccines available and necessary for cats.
Panleukopenia: This is a highly contagious and fatal virus that can cause vomiting, fever, reduced appetite, diarrhea, and even sudden death.
Feline Herpesvirus: This virus intervenes with the upper respiratory system and causes sneezing, nasal and eye discharge, fever, lethargy, and keratitis. Kittens have a higher risk of suffering from this virus.
Calicivirus: This contagious virus causes respiratory problems in cats. Adult cats may show symptoms like sneezing, conjunctivitis, reduced appetite, lethargy, and lameness while kittens may develop pneumonia. Severe cases of calicivirus can cause death.
Rabies: This fatal virus spreads through bite wounds and saliva. Raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats are the most common mammals that carry and spread this disease. It can also affect humans. For cats, it can be fatal once the symptoms start to develop.
Feline Leukemia Virus: FeLV is the leading cause of virus-related deaths in cats. It spreads through saliva, urine, feces, and bite wounds. It can cause immune suppression, anemia, and cancer. It can reduce a cat’s life down to two and a half years after being effected. All kittens should receive this vaccine in the first year of life.
Dermatophytosis: Also known as ringworm, is a fungal infection that can cause skin inflammation and hair loss. It can affect dogs and humans as well. Consult your veterinarian before getting this vaccine as some vets claim it is not effective.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV): FIV is a viral disease that can disrupt the immune system. It’s mainly spread through saliva. Cats that go out and socialize with other cats have a higher risk of suffering from FIV.
Bordetella: Also known as kennel cough is a highly widespread bacterium that can cause upper respiratory infections. Symptoms include; nasal discharge, sneezing, and coughing. It can spread through bodily liquids of other cats and dogs. Vaccination can control the spread of this infection.
If your cat stays indoors all the time, you may think that she’s protected. But there’s still the risk of catching airborne germs and the germs you may bring from outside. Bringing a new cat into your household can increase the risk of infections as well. In any case, you’d want your cat to be prepared for all the risks.
Remember, the vaccines do not offer 100% immunity against diseases. Limiting your cat’s contact with stray animals and a suspicious environment is also necessary. You can also consult your veterinarian about how to minimize the risk of infections.