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Behavior change in a kitten after vaccination

Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra,

Recently, my kitten (2 months old) had her first installment of vaccinations. Since then we noticed her behavior changed. She started to get more aggressive. We took her to our vet. He told us she had a screw loose and that she had a shot knot. He gave her a shot of cortizone. Then the next day I called him back because she started hanging her head and falling to the right and could not keep her balance. He told me to bring her in and he would get to her when he could. She stayed there and then was released. He did not know what was wrong. I had then decided to take her to our local emergency vet clinic. They told me she acted as if she had rabies and informed me I should have her put down. I didn’t feel that I had enough evidence of rabies and that it could also have been some other possible diseases but significant testing would have to be done which would end up costing us over $5,000.00. So, it was with a heavy heart I had to leave again without an answer. Now, I am here on the internet trying to get answers. I have noticed she is not seeing very well but can hear us call her and will follow our calls. Her eyes have a hazy cloudy look and she is still stumbling around, however, her strength and will to keep her balance has greatly improved. Also, she wants to clean herself and tries to play like she used to. I can’t see how that can be rabies. Can you give me any feedback on your impressions and how I need to proceed with continued love and care for my little one? I truly love this kitty and want to give her all the time and love that I can. I just don’t think putting her down without knowing exactly what she has is a reasonable option, but it seems to be the “in” thing to do these days.



Hi – thanks for your email. Goodness, this sounds like a very complicated case. I don’t know how long after the vaccines that the signs start. Cats can have vaccine reactions but they are relatively uncommon and do not present like this.

It sounds like your cat is having some neurologic symptoms that are very abnormal. There are so many possibilities of what it could be. Is she running a fever? Is she eating? Is she weak? Could it be infectious? Was her glucose normal? Did they do routine blood work including a complete blood count, diagnostic profile, feline leukemia and feline aids tests?

If they have not done some basic tests, I’d recommend letting them do that. I’d encourage her to eat – hand feed her, give her some “smelling” food, whatever it takes to get her to eat. An article that might be helpful to you is Dealing with Cats that Won’t Eat.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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