Because cats don’t actually have 9 lives, we want to make sure that the one they have is as healthy and happy as possible.
Bringing a tiny kitten home is a very special and sweet experience, but it also comes with a lot of responsibilities. You want the best for your tiny playful friend and that includes making sure you keep up with all the necessary cat vaccinations.
With the help from our favorite vet expert, Dr. Liff, we are going to go through all the vaccinations your kitty will need—the essential ones (the so-called ‘core vaccines’) and the ones that aren’t strictly necessary but may be recommended (’non-core vaccines’).
If your kitten is under 2 years-old, we’ve designed a Puppy/Kitten Preventative package, made especially to provide young pets with the care they need to stay healthy. It includes coverage for 2 wellness exams, 6 vaccines, 2 fecal or internal parasite tests, spay/neuter, microchipping and heartworm or flea/tick medication. Basically, all the major things your kitten needs to grow to healthy!
What vaccines does my kitten need?
Lucky for you, cats are a bit lower maintenance than dogs. That means fewer shots are needed to keep them safe! But Dr. Liff does recommend 3 important vaccines that will protect your kitten against unwanted viruses.
Your kitten can be infected with rabies and pass it on to you. Bummer. Indoor cats may not need this shot—but, in most states, your kitty is required to have a rabies vaccination regardless of whether they ever leave your apartment.
A three-in-one deal! FVRCP consists of three core vaccines: FPV, FHV-1, and FCV. Here’s what that entails, exactly (don’t worry, we’re not going to test you on this later).
- The Feline Panleukopenia Vaccine (FPV), a.k.a. Feline Distemper, prevents the highly infectious feline parvovirus, which is fatal for many kittens.
- FHV-1 is the technical term for the feline rhinotracheitis virus (a.k.a. feline herpesvirus). Sadly, this high-risk virus can lay dormant in your kitten’s nerves and reactivate itself at a later date. Vaccinating your kitty will prevent a long battle with FVH-1 and symptoms like sneezing, sore throat, and pneumonia.
- FCV, the feline calicivirus, also impacts your kitten’s respiratory system causing sneezing, inflamed gums, hair loss, and, in some cases, death. Dr. Liff suggests this vaccine be given annually, after the initial kitten doses.
Feline Leukemia (FeLV)
Many cats can live with leukemia. But it might cause other conditions, like lymphoma or anemia.
The feline leukemia virus is transmitted through bodily fluids, so sharing bowls or grooming other cats can be dangerous without this vaccine. Dr. Liff recommends this non-core shot be given annually for outdoor cats, and at least every two years for indoor cats.
Should my kitten get any other vaccines?
This depends on the kitten’s lifestyle. If they’re an outdoor cat for example, they might need more vaccines than an indoor cat. The following vaccines are non-core, so it’s up to you and your vet to decide whether to go for these vaccinations or not.
Feline Chlamydia typically affects kittens under 9 months of age. Symptoms may include discharge from the eyes, loss of appetite, and a fever.
If there is a higher risk of infection—in a household with multiple cats for example, especially if there has been a case of chlamydia in the past—it might be a good idea to vaccinate your kitten. The first vaccine is given around 8 to 9 weeks of age, and the second at 12 weeks.
Kittens in shelters can develop bordetellosis bronchiseptica, a highly contagious bacterial infection caused by bordetella (known as “kennel cough” in dogs), a bacteria that causes upper respiratory illness. The non-core bordetellosis vaccine, which is usually given to eight-week-old kittens, protects them from the disease.
Kitten vaccination schedule + costs
Thankfully, prices are fairly modest, and cats don’t need a ton of vaccines compared to dogs.
|Rabies||3 doses for kittens, then an annual booster||$25–$50/dose|
|FVRCP||2 initial doses for kittens, then an annual booster||$25–$50/dose|
|Feline Leukemia||2 doses for kittens, followed by an annual booster ( outdoor cats) or a shot every 2 years (indoor cats) based on AAFP recommendations)||$25–$50/dose|
|Feline Chlamydia||1 dose at 6–8 weeks, then 2 more doses. Annual or every 3 years for adult cats based on lifestyle||Is usually included in the FVRCP vaccine|
|Bordetella||1 dose at 8 weeks, then an annual booster for at-risk cats||$10–$15/dose|
What else should I keep in mind?
Your kitten shouldn’t be experiencing major side effects from the vaccines. It is normal if they feel slightly uncomfortable or lethargic. Don’t hesitate to call the vet if you feel unsure or notice side effects like facial swelling or vomiting.
And remember that with Lemonade’s pet health insurance policy and our new preventative care package designed especially for kittens, you get help covering the expenses of these vaccines and more!
If you want to read more about the details, click here.