Cat Vaccinations

Pet vaccination schedules can be confusing but they’re important for protecting your cats...

It’s essential to vaccinate your cat in order to protect them from diseases and viruses. In this month’s article, we will look at some of the important vaccines your cat needs and at what ages they should get them.

There are currently three ‘core’ infectious cat diseases present in NZ that vets recommend should be vaccinated against - Cat Flu, Enteritis and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.

Primary Vaccination Course

Initially, a primary course of injections is given. To achieve full immunity the number and type of injections depends on the age of the cat, pre-existing immunity, general state of health and overall risk factors.

  • Baby kittens (6 to 12 weeks old) - 2-3 vaccinations to complete the primary course.
  • Older kittens/cats (over 12 weeks old) - 2 vaccinations / visits for the primary course.
  • Adult cat whose vaccination cover has lapsed - 2 vaccinations / visits will be enough for the primary course.

Note that if you don’t bring your cat in for its full course of vaccinations, your cat will have no lasting vaccination immunity and a vaccination course will not provide its maximum protection until 10 days after the final vaccination. Hence, most catteries require a minimum of 2-4 weeks from the date of the vaccination.

It’s also important to make sure that for the 10 days without protection, your cat remains on your property or another ‘safe’ area, where it can avoid contact with non vaccinated cats.

Booster vaccinations

Most vaccines still require yearly boosters to maintain good immunity for your pet. Without regular booster vaccinations, your pet’s vaccination protection will decline to the point it is no longer protected. There are a few factors which mean a cat’s immunity can extend slightly beyond one year but annual health checks are essential to ensure that immunity exists.

Annual health checks can also pick up on any other issues with your cat’s health and deal with them as they pop up.

Diseases covered by vaccination

  • Cat Flu - very common and incredibly contagious. It causes sneezing, runny eyes and nose, mouth and corneal ulcers and a loss of appetite. In more severe cases, cats may be left with a persistent nasal discharge and sneezing (snuffles), or in the worst cases, cat flu can be fatal!
  • Feline Enteritis - another highly contagious disease. It is most common and severe in young kittens but can affect cats of any age. Symptoms include loss of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, extreme lethargy, dehydration, and in severe (but unfortunately frequent) cases, death.
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) - this virus is usually spread by fighting and is excreted in large amounts of saliva. There is no cure yet but the FIV vaccine provides the best protection.

Other diseases you can protect against by vaccination that aren’t included in the core three include:

  • Feline Chlamydophila (formerly known as Feline Chlamydia) - this disease can lead to bouts of sneezing, conjunctivitis, and infertility or abortion. This is a common problem in NZ and it can be treated with a course of antibiotics for three weeks but the vaccine is a good way to kelp prevent it.

If you have a new cat, make sure you visit your vet to decide on an appropriate vaccination schedule to provide them the best protection from cat diseases out there. The best way to protect your cat is seeking out prevention!