If you want to enjoy the companionship of a healthy and happy cat, 1 of the most important things you can do is to safeguard its health. Vaccinations can protect your cat from many common cat diseases.
Weaned From Mother's Immunity
When your kitten is 6 to 8 weeks old, you should begin his vaccinations. Before this time, the mother's antibodies have been protecting him. Once he is weaned, however, he will need to develop antibodies of his own.
The Vital First Visit
The first office visit is when your veterinarian will give your kitten a complete physical examination. A fecal exam is normally done to assure that your kitten doesn't have worms. Prior to vaccinations, your veterinarian should do a blood test to be sure the kitten is not already infected with Feline Leukemia. The vet may also test for Feline Infectious Peritonitis. These tests are quick, and your veterinarian will have preliminary results in minutes.
If your kitten is not already infected with 1 of these diseases, the vet will give your kitten his first Feline Leukemia and FIP vaccines, assuming if he is at risk for these diseases. An only cat who never leaves home may not need these vaccines, in which case your veterinarian may recommend against giving them.
Whether he leaves the house or not, your kitten should receive his first FVRCPC vaccine. This combination vaccine protects kittens from rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, panleukopenia and chlamydia.
Follow-Up Vaccines And Worming
Within 2 to 4 weeks your kitten should visit the veterinarian again, at the age of 8 to 12 weeks. This time he will get a second round of shots for FVRCPC, Feline Leukemia, and FIP. If your kitten was wormed during his first visit, the vet will give him his second worming. If your kitten is at least 12 weeks old and spends time outdoors, he should also receive his first Rabies vaccine.
Your kitten's third visit to the veterinarian takes place when he is 10 to 16 weeks old, when he will receive his third FVRCPC vaccine. Kittens who were too young for their first Rabies vaccine on their previous visit will receive it at this time.
The First Birthday Visit
After completing his third set of FVRCPC vaccines, your kitten will not need any more injections until he is 1 year old. At that time he will need Rabies and FVRCPC booster shots. If the Rabies shot is given to your cat within 1 year of his first Rabies vaccine, it will be good for 3 years. Your cat will need to return each year, however, for the FVRCPC vaccine. When your cat is 1 year of age, he will also receive boosters for FIP and Feline Leukemia if he received these vaccines as a kitten.
Rare Side Effects
Most of the time vaccines are quite safe, yet occasionally side effects can occur. Vaccines for Feline Leukemia can sometimes cause a form of cancer at the site of the injection. For this reason veterinarians usually do not recommend the vaccine for cats who are not at risk. A tumor can sometimes occur at the site of other vaccinations, as well. This type of tumor can often be removed before it spreads. Should you notice a lump developing at the injection site, call your veterinarian without delay. These lumps usually are a simple allergic reaction to the injection, but a lump can develop into a tumor, which, if caught early, can be successfully removed.
The risk of catching a disease without vaccinations is much higher than the risk of side effects. Just as with humans, shots are an unpleasant, but necessary part of growing up healthy.
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