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Vaccines For Your Cat

Vaccines For Your Cat
by Dr Grant Hampson

Read time: 3 min

When you get a kitten, there's always so much to think about. Making sure they're on KatKin (build your trial box here), providing them with the best toys you can find, picking a name that strikes the balance of funny but also meaningful. AND you need to think about vaccines in amongst all of that? We're here to take one load off your plate and tell you when your cat needs their vaccine, what's in it, and what they're getting protected against.

Your kitten will have antibodies from their mother for the first couple of months of their life, which are known as maternally derived antibodies (MDA). They'll slowly decline as your kitten grow, so it's recommended to get them vaccinated. Their first vaccine is often given around 8-9 weeks of age with a 2nd vaccine required 3-4 weeks later. Giving the two vaccines ensures adequate immunity development.

What is my kitten getting protected against?

Cat Flu

Cat flu is an infectious disease caused by Feline Herpesvirus (FHV-1) and feline calicivirus (FCV). The virus is spread by direct and close contact between cats and it can survive for periods in the environment.

The clinical signs of cat flu can be mild to very severe and include:

  • Sneezing and nasal discharge

  • Eye (ocular) discharge

  • Mouth ulcers

  • Chronic gingivitis and stomatitis (inflammation of the inside of the mouth)

FHV-1 symptoms can settle down, but cats may be permanently infected and flare up at various points throughout their life.

Feline infectious enteritis

A highly contagious disease caused by feline panleukapenia virus, a parvovirus. Feline infectious enteritis is transmitted in faeces, bodily fluids, fleas and contaminated fomites, such as food and water bowls and bedding. The virus survives for extremely long periods of time in the environment.

Signs of feline infectious enteritis include:

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhoea that is often bloody (AKA hemorrhagic gastroenteritis)

  • Lethargy

  • Reduced Appetite (Anorexia).

Feline infectious enteritis unfortunately, has a poor outcome and many cats succumb to the disease. However, there are effective vaccines available to prevent this disease occurring in your cat.

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)

FeLV is a viral infection which sadly leads to the development of cancers such as lymphoma, leukaemia and other tumours within the body. The virus also suppresses the immune system of infected cats, resulting in them becoming more susceptible to other infections. It is spread in the cat’s saliva, faeces and urine. The highest risk cats are young kittens, but older cats can also become infected.

Symptoms of FeLV are often very subtle and include increased tiredness and fever. The more severe clinical signs develop when they struggle to fight off a secondary infection, these can include:

  • Lethargy/depression

  • Weight loss

  • Fever

  • Diarrhoea

  • Skin issues

  • Frequent periods of being unwell

Unfortunately, there is no cure for FeLV but infected cats with the right veterinary care, cats can live a relatively long time. They are more prone to secondary infections that need to be addressed as soon as they are noticed. Therefore, regular health checks at the vets are important.

It is extremely important that any cat infected with FeLV are kept indoors to prevent the spread of the virus.

Feline Chlamydophilosis

This is not part of most standard vaccine protocols, but can be offered in high risk situations.

Feline Chlamydophilosis is caused by the bacteria, Chlamydophia. It primarily affects the eyes and nose of those cats infected but can progress into their lungs, stomach and reproductive tract.

Clinical signs of Feline Chlamydophilosis include:

  • Conjunctivitis (inflammation of the conjunctiva of the eyes)

  • Sneezing with runny nose and eyes

  • Breathing difficulties

  • Lethargy


We can thankfully say that rabies is not present in the United Kingdom. However, if you are planning to take your cat overseas or wanting to bring a cat into the country, they will need to be vaccinated against rabies - better to be safe than sorry!

There are many regulations surrounding pet travel and you should always chat with your vet as part of your travel arrangements. Not to mention getting them a spacious cat carrier for the trip.

If you have any questions about your kitten's first vaccine, pop us an email and we'd be happy to help:

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