Question - I’m adopting a female kitten, and have been wading through loads of info about vaccinations and booster shots. It sounds complicated. Will my kitten really need regular vaccinations?
Answer - It’s so exciting to hear you’re considering adoption. There are thousands of kittens in the UK just waiting to be rehomed, so adoption is a responsible way to add a new member to your family. Although you're feeling overwhelmed, you're right to look into vaccinations, they're an important part of kitten ownership.
Kittens are adoptable at around 8 weeks. By that time, the shelter will have already administered a ‘primary’ vaccination course. It’s a step taken to ensure your kitten is healthy and happy before you bring her home. About 3 weeks later, you’ll need to book her in for a second dose of the vaccine with your vet. While your kitten is having these injections, keep her away from unvaccinated pets, as she'll still be vulnerable to infection.
It’s good practice to keep your kitten up to date on all her shots with regular ‘booster’ vaccinations. The first one will come about a year after the primary vaccination course, and then annually after that. It may seem like a lot of dates to remember, but your vet will be able to guide you through the entire process. It’s so important to make sure these vaccinations happen, – they protect against nasty diseases that could cause serious harm to your kitten later in life.
Vaccinations for your kitten are a lot like the vaccinations we get. They contain a small, completely harmless amount of a virus, which helps your kitten’s immune system learn to fight against diseases. Without vaccinations, she could be exposed to potentially fatal diseases, or spread disease to other vulnerable cats.
Which vaccines to get?
There are two main vaccinations that your kitten will need to have. The first protects against Feline Infectious Enteritis, or FIE. It’s a common gut infection that can cause serious health problems in cats. The second will keep your kitten from catching cat flu, which is a common virus that could develop into a severe illness. There are several other vaccinations available if you have multiple cats in your house or plan on letting your kitten explore outdoors. Talk to your vet to ensure to get the right ones.
Are boosters really needed?
Booster vaccines might seem like an unnecessary extra, but they play an important role in keeping your kitten healthy. Think of them as a top-up against viruses, as your kitten grows, her immune system will ‘forget’ how to fight the diseases she's been vaccinated against.
All grown up
Like human flu, there are several strains of cat flu, so it’s a good idea to make sure adult cats get regular boosters against the disease. If your cat is in contact with other cats, it’s especially important to make sure its vaccines are up to date to prevent the spread of disease.
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