Kittens usually begin their vaccines at 6 to 8 weeks of age. They receive vaccines every 4 weeks until they have a total of three sets of vaccinations. The first of these final vaccines primes the kitten's matured immune system, while the final set provides immunity for a year.
What Are Vaccines? Vaccines stimulate an animal's immune system, so that the cat is fully prepared and armed with antibodies against diseases. Without proper vaccination, a cat's immune system will not be able to resist the virus or bacteria until it is too late.
Feline Rhinotracheitis is caused by a herpes virus, and can cause sneezing, fever, ocular discharge, and coughing. It can cause permanent, incurable changes to the eyes and the inside of the nose. Some cats are carriers, spreading the disease while showing no signs
Feline Calicivirus- this virus can cause respiratory signs, fever, drooling ulcers of the mouth and footpads, pneumonia, diarrhea, arthritis, and neurologic signs
Feline Distemper or Feline Panleukopenia-very common and contagious viral disease that causes fever, weakness, vomiting and diarrhea. It is often fatal in kittens. The virus that causes feline distemper is not the same as canine distemper virus.
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) -is an incurable virus that destroys the immune system of a cat, leading to fatal infections and cancers. It is transmitted through saliva, urine and other body fluids. It is relatively common in our area. Initially cats appear healthy and normal, yet still are contagious to other cats.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)- also known as Feline AIDS, this virus also wears down a cat's immune system, predisposing it to eventually fatal infections and cancers. There is no vaccine or cure for FIV. Carrier cats can appear healthy, yet still be contagious. This disease is spread through biting, sexual behavior, and from a mother's milk.
Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)- an incurable viral disease that attacks the abdominal organs. It causes a slow onset of anorexia, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea, ending in death.
Chlamydia- Highly contagious, extremely common infection of the eyes and upper respiratory system
Rabies- this viral disease is most often spread by wild raccoons, foxes and bats. There is no treatment for rabies in animals, and the only test involves removing the brain. Untreated rabies is also fatal in humans, who catch the disease from the bites and scratches of infected animals. Dogs and cats can carry and spread the virus for weeks to months while appearing normal.
Fecal Flotation- the cats stool is mixed with a special solution that causes intestinal parasite eggs to float to the surface. This layer is then examined under a microscope. This test will identify intestinal worm eggs, as well as some other microscopic parasites such as Coccidia or Giardia.
Kittens are vaccinated in a series of 3 shots at 2 to 4 week intervals. The FVRCPC vaccine includes protection against rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, panleudopenia and chlamydia. Leukemia and FIP vaccinations are given with the FVRCPC vaccine. Kittens older than 4 months that go outside are encouraged to receive a rabies vaccine also. It is important to run fecal samples to check for parasites as a kitten is going through the initial vaccination series. Depending on geographical area, husbandry, number of cats and other factors, additional testing and preventative medications may be necessary. Such testing includes heartworm, leukemia, FIV, and FIP.