Cat vaccines: which ones are required and at what age?

Adopting a cat can add great moments of joy and tenderness to one’s daily life, but it also adds the responsibility of caring for another living being. For your pet to remain in good health, your cat should receive certain vaccines to protect it from potentially fatal illnesses. The following handy vaccination guide will explain how you can protect your cat.

Starting at two months of age

Kittens are usually weaned around the age of 8 weeks. Their immune system is still developing, and they will lose any protection provided by their mother’s milk over the next few weeks, putting them at risk of infection by viruses or contact with other infected animals. If your new kitten or adult cat is not yet vaccinated, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. After this initial visit, your pet will need to receive its next vaccinations at monthly intervals (booster vaccines) in order to be adequately protected.

Basic vaccines

The main base vaccine, commonly referred to as PRC, can be administered to kittens as young as six weeks old and will protect them from the following diseases: panleucopenia (P), rhinotracheitis (R), and calicivirus (C), which are the most commonly transmitted diseases between cats. 

  • Panleucopenia is an extremely contagious viral disease caused by a parvovirus that affects primarily kittens since they have a weaker immune system. Affected animals will suffer from many different symptoms including: loss of appetite, foul-smelling diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, and a very high fever. If left untreated, this disease is often fatal.
  • Rhinotracheitis is a very common viral infection that affects the feline respiratory system. It is often compared to the human common cold because it affects a cat’s upper respiratory tract. Symptoms include sneezing, profuse nasal and ocular discharge (either white or yellow in colour), coughing, increased salivation, fever, loss of appetite and conjunctivitis.
  • Calicivirus is a disease that also affects the respiratory system of kittens and cats, and is very contagious between felines, either by direct or indirect contact. Symptoms of this disease are similar to those of rhinotracheitis, but affected cats may also develop ulcers in the mouth, nose, or even on foot pads.

Although treatable, these diseases are highly contagious and can make your cat or kitten very uncomfortable for the duration of the illness. Since they can be prevented by a simple vaccination, it is imperative that your pet be vaccinated as soon as possible.

After the initial booster vaccination, an important step in ensuring the continued efficacy of the vaccine’s protection, your cat should receive this vaccine every year.

Other important vaccines

Your cat can also be protected from other dangerous viral diseases thanks to vaccinations. Feline leukemia, for example, is a deadly viral infection transmitted between cats. Most important is protection against rabies, an always fatal illness that must be reported to government authorities if detected. These diseases are most widespread among cats that go outside and can be transmitted by other cats or other animals. In the case of rabies, this disease can be transmitted by skunks, raccoons, bats, and foxes, and is also a danger to people.