It might not be the first thing on your mind when bringing home a fluffy new kitten to love and care for, but vaccination is vital to keeping your pet protected.
Kittens can be vaccinated from 9 weeks of age; two vaccines are usually needed – three to four weeks apart – to ensure kittens are not left susceptible to infection. This is alongside an annual booster to help maintain their immunity against certain diseases. Carrying out this simple trip to your local vet will help ensure your bouncy new kitten gets the best chance of maturing into a healthy cat.
Vaccines are not available for all infectious diseases, but luckily there are a number of vaccines available to help protect your cat from the life-threatening diseases that are commonly found in felines:
- Feline parvovirus (FPV) – FPV is also known as feline panleukopenia virus and feline infectious enteritis – it causes severe disease in cats and especially kittens and is frequently fatal
- Feline herpes virus (FHV) – FHV is one of the causes of cat flu and is a very common virus. It can cause serious and very unpleasant ulcers on the face, ears, neck and more worryingly the eyes
- Feline calicivirus (FCV) – FCV is another common cause of cat flu. It is also one of the main culprits for stomatitis (painful inflammation of the mouth and gums) and chronic gingivitis in cats. This can become so bad that only steroid treatment can keep it under control. Leaving it untreated will cause the cat severe pain and prevent eating, grooming and drinking with ease. An annual booster will help the vet to spot this before it has any damaging effects
- Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) – FeLV is a virus that causes a fatal disease – it affects the immune system and can also cause vulnerability to other infections, anaemia or tumours
- Chlamydophila felis – Chlamydophila felis is a bacterium that often causes painful conjunctivitis with discharge and redness of the eyes, but it can also be a cause of cat flu
- Bordetella bronchiseptica – Bordetella bronchiseptica is a bacterium that causes flu-like signs such as sneezing, runny nose and eyes, high temperature and a cough
- Rabies – Rabies is a lethal virus which is not currently a problem in the UK – cats travelling abroad under the Pet Travel Scheme must have vaccinations against rabies
Sadly, most cats coming into our care are suffering from diseases that could have been prevented with simple routine vaccinations. One of these cats is Blue, who alongside his brother Inky is one of our longest residents at the moment. Unfortunately for Blue, he has been suffering from the Feline Herpes Virus (FHV).
Blue arrived into our care with a very sore eye, one of the causes of FHV. This can cause extensive ulcers that need long-term treatment. Thankfully Blue is responding to treatment from his fosterer. However eye-drops will become a daily need for him, something that could have been prevented with vaccination when he was younger.
Both Blue and Inky are very placid cats and easy to handle, making the application of his eye drops very easy for him.
Getting your kitten vaccinated and keeping up to date with the annual boosters would be our minimum wish list for your cat, and we think your cat deserves this consideration – we hope you do too!