It's no secret that vaccines are important for our health. We get vaccinated to protect ourselves from diseases that can make us very sick, or even kill us. But did you know that vaccines are just as important for our feline friends? That's right, cats need vaccinations too! Here's everything you need to know about why it's so important to get your cat vaccinated.
Why Do Cats Need Vaccines?
Cats need vaccines to protect them from diseases that are caused by viruses and bacteria. These diseases can range from mild to deadly, and they can be passed on to other cats (and even humans!) very easily. Just like with human vaccines, cat vaccines help build up the immune system so that it can more effectively fight off these diseases.
What Diseases Do Cat Vaccines Protect Against?
There are a variety of diseases that cat vaccines can protect against, but the most common ones are rabies, feline panleukopenia virus (FPV), feline calicivirus (FCV), and feline herpesvirus type 1 (FHV-1).
Rabies is a serious disease that is caused by a virus and can be passed on to humans. It is deadly in both cats and humans, so it is important to make sure that your cat is vaccinated against rabies.
FPV is a viral disease that causes severe vomiting and diarrhea in cats. It is especially deadly in young kittens, and can quickly lead to dehydration and death.
FCV is a highly contagious viral respiratory infection that causes symptoms such as fever, oral ulcers, and eye infections. It can also cause pneumonia in severe cases.
FHV-1 is a viral respiratory infection that is similar to the common cold in humans. It causes symptoms such as runny nose, fever, and eye discharge. In severe cases, it can lead to pneumonia.
When Should Cats Be Vaccinated?
Kittens should start getting vaccinated when they are around 6-8 weeks old. They will need a booster vaccine 1-2 weeks later, and then again at around 16 weeks old. After that, most cats will only need an annual booster vaccine to stay up-to-date on their vaccinations.
However, some vaccines may need to be given more frequently than others depending on your cat's individual risk factors. For example, cats who go outdoors or who live in areas with a high incidence of certain diseases may need more frequent vaccinations.
As you can see, vaccinations are extremely important for our feline friends! They help protect against serious (and sometimes deadly) diseases while also helping build up the immune system.
If you have any questions about whether or not your cat needs a certain vaccine or how often it should be vaccinated, be sure to talk to your veterinarian. They will be able to give you tailored advice based on your cat's individual needs.
While you are at the vet, it is also important to have your cat evaluated for the risk of heartworms. While this is not something you prepare a vaccine for, there is preventive medication you can give to protect them. This applies to indoor cats too, because heartworms are often spread by mosquitos, and can get inside the house. Just something to think about.
We had an indoor cat that died of heartworms. We never suspected this could happen, but we live in an area of the country where mosquitos are plentiful, and ours snuck outside for brief periods and probably got infected that way.
In all cases, the best thing is to check with your veterinarian about your specific situation. If you don't have a vet you are happy with, we recently published some tips for choosing a veterinarian. Check it out.