Raleigh cat clinic veterinarians across the Triangle want to remind all of you cat parents out there that vaccinations aren’t just for dogs! Our feline friends need to stay current on their vaccinations too in order to remain healthy and protected against disease.
So, today we’re going to share with you a basic vaccination schedule for your cat so that you can make sure that you’re up to date with your feline vaccination schedule!
It’s important to remember, though, that individual cats have individual health needs and it’s always important to check in with your cat’s veterinarian on a regular basis to ensure that your cat is getting the individualized care that they need.
Raleigh Cat Clinic Tips: A Basic Cat Vaccination Schedule
Below is a basic schedule for feline vaccinations from your local Raleigh cat clinic. Take a look at your cat’s veterinary records to be sure that they are current on all necessary vaccinations and if they aren’t, make sure that you set up an appointment with your local Raleigh vet ASAP! This basic schedule is based on an average indoor housecat and isn’t ideal for every cat, so always consult your veterinarian!
Between 6 and 7 weeks kittens should receive their first combination vaccine.
This vaccine includes feline distemper, rhinotracheitis, and calicivirus. Some versions of this vaccine also include Chlamydophila if it is a concern in your area.
At 10 weeks kittens should receive their second combination vaccine. Again, Chlamydophila will be included in this vaccine if it’s a concern in your area.
At 13 weeks kittens should receive their third combination vaccine. Again, Chlamydophilia will be included in this vaccine if it’s a concern in your area.
Additionally, kittens that are the risk of exposure to the feline leukemia virus will be given the feline leukemia (FeLV) vaccine.
16 & 19 weeks
At 16 and 19 weeks kittens will receive another combination vaccine and the feline leukemia (FeLV) vaccine if kittens are at risk of exposure to feline leukemia.
Adult boosters may include the combination vaccine (Chlamydophila included in this vaccine if it’s a concern in your area), FeLV for cats at risk of exposure to feline leukemia, and the rabies vaccine.
For booster shots, the American Veterinary Medical Association has determined that not all cats require annual boosters on certain vaccinations. The frequency with which your cat will need boosters depends on a variety of factors including their health, the region where you live, their age, their lifestyle type, whether they’re used for breeding, and the types of vaccinations used.
Why Do Kittens Require Multiple Combination Vaccinations?
Looking at the chart above you will notice that kittens receive a series of combination vaccinations. Wondering why that is?
The Mother Cat Produces Antibodies to Neutralize Pathogens
A mother cat’s body produces antibodies (proteins) in response to the presence of pathogens (for example, bacteria from a bacterial infection).
Her immune system then uses those antibodies to neutralize the pathogens. Antibodies target specific pathogens based on small identifiers on the outside of the cell called antigens.
Different pathogens prompt the mother cat’s body to produce different antibodies because they have different antigens (or identifiers).
The Mother Cat’s Immune System Can Later React More Quickly to the Same Pathogen
Now, in the future, if the mother cat is exposed to the same pathogen again, her immune system “memory” is triggered and it is able to react to the pathogen much faster than it did the first time.
Kittens Get Antibodies From Their Mother
When kittens are very young and feeding from their mother, the mother’s antibodies are passed through her milk and this provides immunity to the kitten as well. This is called “passive immunity”.
As the kitten gets older though, the antibodies from the mother cat begin to decrease in number. This results in lowered immunity. Since the antibodies the kitten had previously were not their own, there is no immune system “memory” to fight the pathogen again in the future. This is where vaccinations come into the picture.
What Are Vaccinations?
The aim of the immune system is to eliminate pathogens from the body completely through the use of antibodies, but it takes a while for the body to develop specialized antibodies once exposed to pathogens. This can cause a problem when the pathogens infecting the body are extremely fast acting and dangerous. In this case, the body doesn’t have the time it needs to develop antibodies it needs to fight off the pathogen. This is why we develop and administer vaccinations.
Vaccinations are composed of weakened or dead antigens from specific pathogens. They are injected into the body to prompt it to create antibodies of its own.
But Why Do We Give Multiple Vaccines to Kittens?
The reason for multiple vaccinations for kittens is because we don’t know at what point exactly a mother’s antibodies become ineffective in the kitten’s body.
If the first vaccination is given when a kitten still has the mother’s antibodies in their system their body will not produce its own antibodies. So we space out a series of vaccinations against the “big illnesses” over the first few months of a kitten’s life to ensure that the body produces its own antibodies to fight it.
Why Do We Give Booster Shots?
We later give booster shots to cats and kittens to re-expose the body to the specific antigens and prompt the development of antibodies. We do this because over time the immune system “memory” for pathogens can decline, providing lowered immunity.
Does Your Cat Require a Visit to a Local Raleigh Cat Clinic?
If your cat is overdue for vaccination or just feeling under the weather, we encourage you to give us a call here at Leesville Animal Hospital. You can reach us at (919)870-7000 and we’ll make you an appointment with one of our three veterinarians on staff. Don’t hang around, we want your feline friend to feel 100% again as soon as possible!