If you’re a cat lover, you know there’s nothing in the world quite like the love of a feline friend. Whether you’re surprising them with catnip or snapping dozens of Instagram pics of your kitten sleeping, having a cat in your life is incredibly rewarding. They’re always there for you when you need them, and you want to protect them so you can enjoy many years together. That’s why it’s important to keep up with your cat’s vaccine schedule so she can stay healthy down the road.
Our vets and techs at Normandale Vet Hospital in Edina believe protecting your pet with vaccines is one of the most important things you can do as a pet parent. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you keep your feline family members up-to-date with their vaccines.
1. Feline Distemper
Feline distemper is the common name for a parvovirus infection known as panleukopenia. It’s most common in younger kittens from the ages of three to five months old. However, it can infect any cat that comes into contact with it.
Feline distemper is a viral infection that kills your pet’s white blood cells, weakening their immune system and making them susceptible to secondary infections. Cats who suffer from feline distemper may not exhibit any visible symptoms or they may have lethargy, dehydration, appetite loss, fever, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. That’s why it’s important to protect your cat from this infection by vaccinating.
2. Feline Herpes
Feline herpes virus type I, or rhinotracheitis, is a viral infection that spreads from a cat coming into contact with another infected cat. This can cause a feline upper respiratory disease that includes conjunctivitis. It is far more common in younger cats, but all cats are susceptible if exposed. Infected cats may exhibit nasal congestion, sneezing, eye discharge, excessive blinking, fever, lethargy, anorexia, and enlarged lymph nodes.
FCV stands for feline calici virus, a viral infection that can cause both oral and upper respiratory infections. There are more than forty types of FCV. Infected cats exhibit a broad range of primarily respiratory symptoms including nasal congestion, sneezing, eye discharge, runny nose, and more.
Rabies is spread from the bite of an infected animal. It is an inflammatory disorder which infects the brain’s gray matter and central nervous system. Initially, symptoms are slow to appear, but once they do, your pet’s condition will typically deteriorate quite rapidly and could lead to death.
When to Have Your Cat Vaccinated
Now that you’ve got a vaccine checklist to work with, it’s time to think about setting a timeline and scheduling your pet’s appointments. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has put together some helpful guidelines to keeping up with your feline family members’ vaccinations:
1. Feline Herpes
Depending on the method of delivery and whether it is combined with another vaccine, the FPV, FHV-1, and FCV vaccines are either administered parenterally or intranasally and maybe either attenuated live or inactivated. While the intranasal can be given as early as four weeks, these are generally given starting at six weeks and may require either a six-month or annual revaccination schedule.
2. Feline Leukemia
Generally speaking, feline leukemia vaccines are given around eight weeks at the earliest and revaccinated every 12 months. These are delivered in two rounds parenterally via either recombinant live vector or inactivated vaccination.
Since rabies shots recommendations vary from state to state and Minnesota has no requirements on pet age, your vet will have a recommendation based on your cat’s age and health. However, many experts recommend getting your pet vaccinated no earlier than 16 weeks.
What Are the Risks of Vaccines?
As with all medical treatments, it’s important to always weigh the risks and benefits of vaccines with your family veterinarian. Geriatric cats living in single-cat homes who have no access to the outdoors have a minimal risk of contracting most pathogens vets vaccinate against. For these cats, your vet may determine that a vaccine is not necessary. Likewise, some cats may be poor candidates for certain vaccinations due to very specific health risks.
However, for younger cats, cats with outdoor access, and cats living in multi-cat or multi-animal households, vaccines are generally recommended. If you’re not sure whether you should vaccinate your cat, always check with your veterinarian.
Talk to our Edina Veterinary Hospital About Your Pet’s Vaccines
At Normandale Vet Hospital, we understand how important it is to protect your beloved cat. We also know that every pet is different, and we want to make sure your pet’s vaccine schedule is spaced out so that it’s healthiest for your cat.
We can take a look at your pet’s medical chart and help develop a vaccine schedule that offers the best outcomes for your family pet. Speak to our team of veterinary experts and schedule your vaccine check-up by calling us at 952-831-8272 or send a message to our contact page.