Shots for kittens

Our question this week was:

Dear Dr. Debra,

I have adopted 2 strays from my vet. They were 7 weeks old. Now 10 weeks. He said he gave all shots they needed but would need more in 6 weeks. Why is this? On limited income, can’t afford a lot of expenses shots if not necessary. Please advise. One male, one female.

June Lewandowski


Thanks very much for your question. To answer your question, kittens generally need a “series” of shots to be properly immunized. Routine shots are essential to prevent common infectious diseases that can affect kittens. It sounds like they received one set of shots but generally need at least two to three sets.

The reason kittens need more than one set of shot is as follow:

When kittens are born, they receive immunity from their mother. When they have their mother immunity, they can’t respond to vaccines to make their own immunity. The mothers immunity wears off somewhere between 7 weeks and 16 weeks of age. During that time the immunity from their mother wears off and they are susceptible to disease, that is what we are trying to avoid. Every kitten is different and it is hard to know when his or her immunity will wear off. We give a series of shots to try to give them the immunity a vaccination offers after their mom’s immunity wears off and before they are exposed to any deadly diseases.

We have a great article on petplace that discusses kitten vaccine recommendations , see section below:

Kitten vaccine recommendations are:

Kittens between 4 and 20 weeks of age: A series of vaccines is recommended. These should begin between 6 and 8 weeks of age and continue every 3 to 4 weeks until the chance of contracting an infectious disease is very low (typically the last “shot” is given between 14 and 16 weeks of age). The vaccines should protect against feline panleukopenia (“distemper”) and the upper respiratory viruses (herpesvirus, calicivirus).

If the risk of feline leukemia virus exposure is significant (out-of-doors cats), the leukemia virus vaccine sequence should be administered. Other vaccines are given on a case-by-case basis. Some veterinarians use traditional “shots” for vaccination while others use a combination of injections and intra-nasal vaccines. The rabies vaccines should be given as required by local laws.

This article on may be helpful as it explains vaccine recommendations for cats. Go to Feline Vaccine Recommendations.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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