When To Vaccinate Your Kitten: The Essential Guide

19 April 2019

When To Vaccinate Your Kitten: The Essential Guide

Your new little kitten is only six to eight weeks old. Your sweet little bundle of fur deserves the best life that you can give them, so it is imperative that you make your kitty’s first preventive veterinary appointment within three days of bringing your fur baby home. At this first preventive visit, your veterinarian will administer your kitten’s first set of vaccinations. Remember, your little feline friend is no different than a dog, your cat will also require regular vaccinations throughout their life to stay healthy. All kittens and cats need a set of three vaccines that are known as the ‘core vaccinations. They include feline panleukopenia (FPV), feline herpesvirus-1 (FHV-1), and feline calicivirus (FCV).

Kitten Vaccination FAQ

Here is a list of common kitten vaccination questions that you might have:

Why Does My Kitten Need Vaccines?

When a kitten is first born, they obtain immunity to deadly viruses from their mother’s milk. The nursing mother provides antibody-rich milk that spurs the kitten’s immune system. However, once weaned, a kitten starts to lose its immunity as the maternal antibodies fade away. Veterinarians, therefore, administer vaccines at intervals to boost a kitten’s immune system and prevent infections.

How Do Vaccinations Work?

Kitten vaccines are given when your kitten is six to eight weeks old. The vaccinations will be repeated every three weeks until your furry feline reaches 16 to 18 weeks old. Some vaccines are administered together in a single injection called a combination injection. During your kitty’s preventive appointment, your veterinarian will discuss the vaccination schedule with you.

Will the Vaccination Cause My Kitty Pain?

As a new pet parent, it is only natural to worry about the vaccination hurting your tiny kitten. Your fur baby will only feel a slight pinch or a sting at the time of injection. Some kittens might cry out or wince, but others show no reaction at all when the vaccine is administered.

Is the Immunity Immediate After a Vaccination?

The vaccine does not immediately give your kitten immunity. It usually takes five to 10 days before your kitten will have crucial antibodies. True immunity is not obtained until about 16 to 18 weeks of age after the booster vaccinations have been given. You should avoid exposing your kitten to the outdoors or other unknown animals until your baby has full immunity.

Are Kitten Vaccinations Dangerous?

Side effects are uncommon. Vaccine reactions tend to be mild and quickly go away. Your tiny kitten might exhibit swelling or slight pain at the injection site. Some kittens are also lethargic or have a mild fever after the vaccination administration. Allergic reactions are rare.

Does My Kitten or Cat Need Additional Vaccinations When Boarding?

Vacations are an exciting time, but you might be forced to board your cat. A boarding facility is fraught with unseen viral dangers, so it is often a promising idea to seek out a preventive health exam with your veterinarian prior to boarding your feline friend. Some veterinarians suggest that you have all vaccinations re-administered if you plan to board your cat because the increased stress of boarding makes your feline more susceptible to diseases.

The Core Vaccinations

You might be wondering what are the ‘core vaccinations. Well, these are a set of vaccinations that protect your kitten from extremely dangerous diseases that are highly contagious and can prove life-threatening. Your kitten will also need a set of vaccinations that are referred to as ‘non-core vaccinations’ to maintain their health throughout their lives. Your veterinarian will work closely with you during your kitten’s preventive healthcare visits to determine which non-core vaccinations best fit their needs and lifestyle. Some kittens and cats are just at a greater risk of developing the viruses that the non-core vaccinations protect against than other kitties.

Core Vaccinations: Core vaccinations protect against common dangerous and life-threatening diseases; feline panleukopenia (FPV), feline herpesvirus-1 (FHV-1), and feline calicivirus (FCV).

Non-Core Vaccinations: Non-core vaccinations are not always recommended for all cats. Your cat’s lifestyle will be evaluated to determine if such vaccinations will be a benefit to your kitty or if they simply do not require them.

When Are Core Vaccinations Administered?

Your kitten will start receiving their core vaccinations at six to eight weeks old at three to four-week intervals until the kitten reaches 16 to 20 weeks old. If your cat has never had vaccinations as a kitten or you are simply unsure of your older cat’s vaccination schedule, then your feline friend will require the above three vaccinations and then a repeat dose after three to four weeks.

Once your kitten or cat has received the required vaccinations you will need to take your furry pet in for a yearly booster vaccination. Finally, upon maturity, your cat will only need their vaccinations administered every three years to maintain the antibodies in your cat’s system for life.

Additional Feline Vaccinations

In addition to the mandatory core vaccinations, your veterinarian may also suggest additional vaccination such as:

  • Rabies
  • Feline leukemia virus (FeLV)
  • Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)
  • Chlamydophila felis, Bordetella bronchiseptica
  • Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP)
  • Dermatophyte

You should discuss the necessity of the FIV, Chlamydophila felis, Bordetella bronchiseptica, and feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) with your veterinarian. Some cats who never go outdoors or who are never boarded may not require the vaccinations. However, nowadays, FeLV and rabies are both highly recommended for all cats.

  • Rabies: The rabies vaccination is administered every three years. However, some cats experience a reaction to the rabies vaccination, so you should always take the time to discuss the local laws plus the pros and cons with your veterinarian.
  • FeLV:  FeLV is administered as two initial doses spaced four weeks apart. After the initial first doses, the vaccination is repeated yearly.


Part of being a responsible new pet parent is setting up a preventive healthcare regime for your new kitten. At the visits, your cat will receive a healthcare screening and all the necessary vaccinations needed to maintain your furry friend’s health for life. Please contact FetchMyVet to schedule your kitten’s first preventive healthcare and vaccination appointment.

Category: Vaccinations

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