By now you probably know you need to vaccinate your cat. Vaccinations should start when your cat is still a kitten. According to Pets Web MD, cats between the ages of six to eight weeks should get their first shots. Prior to that, kittens receive the necessary disease antibodies in their mother's milk. After a full complement of vaccinations in kittenhood, you cat should only need booster shots. Get your cat vaccinated to improve her chances for a long, healthy life.
Choosing Cat Vaccinations
Veterinarians classify vaccinations as either core or non-core. Core vaccinations inoculate against diseases that are highly infectious and widespread. These include rabies, feline panleukopenia, feline calicivirus and feline rhinotracheitis.
The necessity for additional vaccinations depends on your cat's lifestyle. Cats who spend any time outdoors need more vaccinations to protect them from what they can encounter. These can include the flu, feline leukemia and FIV, or feline AIDS.
Live vs Dead Vaccinations
Veterinarians typically administer vaccinations as an injection under the skin. However, some vaccines come as a spray that vets administer up the cat's nose. Either way, the vaccines work by training the white blood cells to recognize and attack the target invaders. Live vaccines contain a strain of the bug that's been genetically altered so that it cannot infect your cat. With dead vaccines, heat or chemicals have been used to kill the bug.
Necessity for Repeat Vaccinations
The vaccination process starts with two injections roughly three weeks apart. However, the protection wears off over time, necessitating booster shots. Additionally, as with humans, illnesses such as the flu mutate over time, so cats need to be inoculated against the new strains. Repeated vaccination increases the antibodies in the blood which fight off the target diseases. This is essential for cats who come in contact with other cats and/or who spend any time outdoors.
Danger in Cat Vaccinations?
Again, as with humans, some cats are more susceptible to side effects from the injection than others. Many cats seem slightly "off" for a couple days, meaning they have a decreased appetite and possibly mild depression. Likewise, the injection site may be tender. These are normal, and there shouldn't be any cause for alarm unless the side effects don't wear off in a couple days.
Cats can also be allergic to the vaccine, resulting in anaphylaxis. The symptoms are vomiting, shock and seizure. This reaction is very rare, though, and occurs immediately after vaccination, so your cat will still be at the vet's office. The rarity of such a reaction weighed against the difficulty of a diseased cat means vaccination is still the better option.
Talk to you vet (like those at Chicago Cat Clinic and similar locations) about the best course of vaccinations and boosters for your new cat.