Just for Kids: Vaccinating Your Kitten
When a kitten is born, her immune system is not fully developed. This means that she could get sick very easily. Lucky for your kitty, her mother is able to give her some protection. She does this before the kitten is born and after the birth through the first milk. But there is another way your kitten gets protection. That is by getting her vaccinated.
What Is a Vaccination?
A vaccination is something that your veterinarian gives to your kitten to help her protect herself against infection. A vaccination is usually a shot that contains a vaccine, which is like a little bit of infection because it contains weakened viruses or bacteria. Why would we do that? Because when germs enter the body, the body makes special substances called antibodies. These antibodies work like a little army to attack the germs and kill them before they can cause disease.
Antibodies stay with the body for a long time. If the real germ ever enters the body, the antibodies will still remember how to fight them off.
- Kittens between 4 and 20 weeks of age: Kittens should receive a vaccine that protects against three illnesses: feline distemper virus, feline calcivirus and feline herpesvirus. The shots should start when your kitten is between 6 and 8 weeks of age and continue every 3 to 4 weeks. If your cat is going to go outdoors, she may need a leukemia vaccine, too. And rabies should be given as required by local laws. Your veterinarian will tell you what your kitten needs.
- Cats between 20 weeks and 2 years of age: Cats and kittens also need booster shots after their kitten shots. This makes sure that the protection continues.
- Cats older than 2 years of age: Some veterinarians think your cat needs a yearly booster shot, and others don't think it is necessary. Your veterinarian might want to give a booster shot every few years. You and your parents can talk it over with your veterinarian and decide what is best for your kitty.