Vaccinations are a great achievement, both in human and veterinary medicine. With a small medical measure, the body can be immunised against certain pathogens – and save lives. Even young cats should not be spared the procedure. After all, a little pinch will save you from lengthy treatments. With a treat as a consolation, even a kitten quickly forgets the visit to the vet, where the vaccination is administered by means of a syringe in the flank area. Read here what you should know about vaccinations for kittens.

Do I have to have my kitten vaccinated?

Vaccinations are strongly recommended – not only for the individual health of your pet, but also for the general containment of diseases. For example, herpesvirus – which can be transmitted in many different ways – is a disease that can also be transmitted from animals to humans.

Not only outdoor cats are at risk: some pathogens are able to survive outside the body and can also be brought into the home from outside. With the timely immunisation of your cat you show responsibility and arm your pet against the typical cat diseases.

Why do kittens have to be vaccinated?

As long as the kittens are still very small, they receive passive immune protection. Antibodies formed by the mother’s organism still circulate in the blood of the newborn kitten. In addition, there is the mother’s milk, which also contains some important defence substances (immunoglobulins).

But this is only a temporary protection. As soon as the kittens’ milk consumption decreases and they start eating solid food, the immunisation decreases again. This is the time when the first vaccinations should be given. Now the eight-week-old kitten is due for their first vaccinations

When should kittens be vaccinated?

As soon as the transition between milk and food bowl begins, it is time to vaccinate the kitten for the first time.

– Cat flu and cat epidemic – the vaccination takes place over two appointments when the kitten is young and once a year after this. Kittens should receive their first vaccination injection at 8-9 weeks old and their second vaccine three to four weeks later. Cats should then be vaccinated annually from then on, to ensure protection.

– Feline leucosis (FeLV): This vaccination only makes sense if the kitten is to enjoy outdoor access, because the virus is transmitted via direct saliva contact – for example when biting or licking each other. The basic immunization also will take place during the kitten vaccinations at 8-9 weeks old and 3-4 weeks later.

Further vaccinations, for example against infectious peritonitis (FIP) or chlamydia, can be useful depending on medical indications and the kitten’s circumstances, but are not part of the “basic vaccinations”. Unfortunately, a vaccine against the dreaded Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV or “cat aids”) is not yet available in this country.

Do I have to put my kitten through the stress?

Many cat owners ask themselves what the point of the booster vaccinations is and whether the visit to the vet in such a short period of time does not cause unnecessary stress for the kitten. However, there is a medical background. In very simplified terms, a vaccination works by supplying the organism with weak or dead cells of the respective pathogens. These are attacked by the body’s own defence system, whereby the immune system forms so-called “memory T cells”. These ensure that the body recognises the pathogens in the case of infection and can fight them off before they cause damage. However, these control cells are also broken down again over time. Refreshers are essential. However, it makes sense to have long phases in between. Occasionally, cats tend to develop fibrosarcoma – a special form of skin cancer – which may be favoured by injections if they are predisposed to it. So the fewer injections are necessary, the better.

Vaccination protection in the first year of the cat’s life does account for the majority of the veterinary costs for the kitten. However, if you compare this with the treatment costs that would be incurred if the cat were infected, this item is put into perspective again. So don’t be put off by vaccination appointments. Trust your vet and take care of the health of your little cat with a solid vaccination protection.

If a new pet has joined your family you need to be perfectly equipped from the start to ensure they can settle in to their new life easily.

Maxi Zoo are on hand with our new pet starter kits for every kind of pet.  You can find out more information about them here. Our store staff are available to give customised advice so you choose the perfect product for your new arrival, and you can get 10% off* your starter kit when you visit your local Maxi Zoo store, find yours here.