What vaccinations should I make sure my new kitten has?
Vaccinating your kitten helps protect their health, making it vital they are placed on the right vaccination programme at the appropriate age.
There are several vaccines available, and in general terms they can be split into two categories:
- Core vaccines
- Non-essential vaccines
Core vaccines are recommended for all kittens and cats regardless of their lifestyle, whilst non-essential (also called non-core) will be recommended depending on the risk of exposure to the specific disease or virus.
Your vet is the best person to recommend the most suitable vaccination programme for your kitten’s lifestyle.
What are the core vaccines that my kitten must have?
Your kitten must be vaccinated against the following diseases:
- Cat flu: caused by various pathogens, including feline herpesvirus (fHV) and feline calicivirus (FCV). Cat flu affects the eyes, mouth and airways.
- Feline panleukopenia virus (FPV): an often-fatal viral infection causing diarrhoea and vomiting.
- Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV): this suppresses the immune system, leaving the infected cat highly vulnerable to other diseases.
Your vet will be able to assess your kitten’s risk profile and the best age for vaccination. They will draw up a vaccination programme specifically suited to your kitten and their needs.
Does my kitten need injections immediately after they are born?
At birth, kittens are protected by the antibodies passed on by the mother through her ﬁrst milk (colostrum). They face a critical period when the concentration from the mother is no longer enough to protect against viruses but is still high enough to prevent effective vaccination. During this time a kitten is most vulnerable to infection.
When should my kitten have their first injections?
The ideal age for your kitten’s first vaccination is eight weeks (or between seven and nine weeks), with a second injection three to five weeks later. This will be for the core vaccines.
Will they already have an injection before they come home?
As the first injection is recommended at around eight weeks, it’s likely they may have already had this when you first brought them home. Make sure you insist on a record of this from the breeder or shelter and provide it to your vet when discussing your kitten’s vaccination programme.
Will the vet check for anything before vaccinating my kitten?
Your vet will give your kitten a thorough check-up before vaccinating them to make sure they are in a good state of health. At this stage it’s important to let them know of any unusual behaviour or symptoms – this could be anything from tiredness to occasional diarrhoea.
When will my kitten be able to go outside?
Your kitten won’t be protected until an amount of time after they’ve had the second injection – your vet will be able to advise on the exact timescales. You should make sure you keep them indoors until then.
Will my kitten be required to have a booster injection?
A booster injection should be given against cat flu, feline panleukopenia and feline leukaemia between 12 and 16 weeks.
Once your kitten is a year old, your vet should also administer the annual boosters for the same viruses.
Read about kitten boosters to understand which injections your kitten will be required to have, and when.
What other vaccines should I consider?
Your vet may also discuss the rabies vaccine with you. Whether this is necessary will depend on your kitten’s lifestyle and if you have any plans to travel with them. For example, if you wish to travel with your kitten within the EU, the rabies vaccine is mandatory.
Making sure your kitten has the right vaccinations at the right age, is one of the most important things you can do to protect their health throughout their life.