The Essential Vaccines to Protect Your Cat

The Essential Vaccines to Protect Your Cat

Much like a newborn child, a new kitten needs certain vaccinations to be healthy. While antibodies from mom protect kittens for the first few weeks of life, by the time your new cat is six weeks of age, they need vaccines to ensure their health. Vaccines are categorized as core vaccines which are necessary for all cats, and non-core or elective vaccines that are only needed in certain situations. Read on to learn more about the diseases that core vaccines help prevent, and for cat vaccines visit Vet Products Direct for additional information.


This vaccine protects against the rabies virus that affects the brain. The rabies vaccine is the only vaccine required by law because of the risk of spread to humans, and if an animal is found to be positive for rabies, it must be reported to the health department. Cats who spend time outdoors can catch the virus from bites from other animals including other cats, raccoons, skunks or bats. There is no treatment or cure so vaccination is important to protect animals and the community.

Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR)

Also known as feline herpesvirus, this virus causes symptoms similar to an upper respiratory infection or head cold in humans. While the severity of the symptoms depends on the cat’s overall health, the most common signs include sneezing, watery eyes, nasal discharge and a lack of appetite. Just like a viral cold in humans, the infection typically must run its course, but antibiotics can be added to the treatment at the discretion of the veterinarian. While the vaccine will not prevent a cat from contracting FVR, it does decrease how severe the symptoms are and how long they last.

Feline Calicivirus

Feline calicivirus affects cats in a similar fashion as feline viral rhinotracheitis. Cats will present with upper respiratory signs, but as the calicivirus is more injurious, it also attacks other areas of the body. Cats infected with calicivirus develop ulcers inside their mouths and on their noses, and they may start to limp as the virus attacks the joints, making them inflamed and painful. Treatment depends on how sick the cat is when taken to the vet and can include antibiotics and pain medication. Just like FVR, this vaccine does not prevent the disease but makes the length of infection shorter.

Feline Panleukopenia

Known as feline distemper, this virus is common in young cats and attacks the stomach, intestines and brain. If a pregnant cat is infected with the panleukopenia virus, it will pass to the unborn kittens through the placenta. In these kittens, the virus slows down the development of the brain, causing the kittens to be born with difficulty walking. Older kittens and cats that contract the virus will have severe vomiting and diarrhea. This vaccine offers complete protection from the virus.

These core vaccines are typically started at 6 weeks of age, continued in intervals over 3 to 4 months, and then repeated every year. Vaccines are important to make sure your cat lives a long, healthy life and can also protect you and your family from diseases.

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