Cat Vaccinations

Information about vaccinating your cat at Richmond House Vets

Vaccination is vital throughout your cat’s life. Within a few weeks of being born, your kitten will start to lose the natural resistance to diseases which it gained from its mother’s milk and sooner or later, it’s almost certain to be exposed to infection of one kind or another either through grooming, sharing litter trays or feeding bowls, fighting or numerous other ways that are an everyday part of a cat’s life.

Vaccinations allow you to take the essential first steps in dramatically reducing the risk of your cat becoming seriously ill or even dying from disease. With a regular annual booster, you can give it the protection it needs and deserves for the rest of its life.

What is immunity?

If a pet (or person) is immune to a particular disease it means that there is little or no risk of falling ill to that disease. Immunity in an adult cat may be as a result of either regular vaccination or the cat having suffered (and survived) the disease.

Provided that the mother is immune, kittens are usually protected for the first few weeks of their life by the immunity passed in their mother’s first milk. However, with time the immunity falls leaving the kittens susceptible to infectious diseases. Vaccinations at this point simply take over the mother’s role in providing protection against these diseases.


Modern vaccines are products of extensive research and are manufactured to standards which are no less exacting than those demanded for the production of vaccines for human use. With such safe and effective vaccines readily available, it makes sense to protect your cat at the earliest opportunity.

  • Feline Leukaemia
  • Feline Panleucopaenia

Feline Leukaemia

Feline Leukaemia is a very serious, incurable disease which can take months or even years to fully develop – it is currently considered to be the single most significant infectious cause of death among the cat population in the western world.

Cats of any age, particularly those up to 3 years of age, can be affected. The symptoms vary widely and range from damage to the immune system (making your cat much less able to fight off other infections) through to persistent anaemia and cancer.

Once the symptoms have appeared, your cat will almost certainly die, but even those which appear healthy can harbour the virus and spread the infection to other cats when they share food or water bowls or when they suffer bites during fights. If a pregnant cat has the virus, her kittens will be infected when they are born.

Feline Panleucopaenia

Feline Panleucopaenia, more commonly known as ‘enteritis’, occurs as an epidemic every few years. It is highly contagious and can affect cats of any age but is most common and severe in kittens.

Signs and Symptoms include:

  • Acute depression
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dehydration
  • In many cases death.

The few cats that do survive the disease tend to suffer from other diseases due to the damage caused to the immune system.

The virus which causes feline enteritis can remain active in the environment for a long time and spreads easily via contact with infected cats or their saliva, urine or faeces.

When should your cat be vaccinated?

Primary vaccination

Kittens which have never been vaccinated before will require a primary vaccination course which consists of two vaccinations between two and four weeks apart. Kittens may start their vaccination course as early as nine weeks of age.

Adult cats that have not been vaccinated in the last 15 months will require a full vaccination course of two injections – this is often referred to as a restart and the vaccinations are given between two and four weeks apart.

A course of two vaccinations is given as the primary course. The initial vaccination provides a low level of immunity and ‘primes’ the immune system. The completion of the course with the second vaccination boosts the immunity to full protective levels.

If you acquire or have an older kitten or an older cat that has not been vaccinated or has an unknown vaccination history, please call us to book it in for its vaccinations as soon as possible. This will also allow your new cat to have a general checkup with one of our vets. Remember that the protective effect of vaccination is not immediate and the vet will advise you when your cat will be protected and allowed outside.

Booster vaccination

Immunity to these diseases does not last indefinitely and will gradually fall leaving your cat at risk. An annual booster (one injection) given every 12 months is vital to maintaining the immunity which will protect your cat from these infections and provide an opportunity for health checks.

Record of Vaccination

On completion of your cat’s primary course you will be given a record card providing a record of vaccination and advising you when the next booster is due. Catteries will almost certainly require this before accepting your cat. Remember to bring this record card to the surgery each time your cat has vaccinations so that it can be updated.

For further information call us and speak to one of the team. 

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