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Kitten Vaccinations: What They Need & When

Why does my kitten need to be vaccinated?

Vaccinating your kitten before they are three months old is one of the most important things a new cat owner can do. Not only does it ensure that your kitten has the best chance at a healthy life as possible, but it also keeps your pet insurance premiums down. Vaccinations are normally required in order for your pet insurance to be valid, so you need to make sure your cat has their annual booster injections, even if they’re an indoor cat. You’ll also find that most catteries won’t accept cats if their injections are overdue because they are more prone to catching and spreading diseases.

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When should my kitten be vaccinated?

Kittens can receive their first initial vaccination between 8-9 weeks old and they’ll have a second injection around 3 weeks later. This is known as the primary course of vaccinations. During this appointment, the vet will also give them a thorough health check as well as providing important information and advice about neutering, fleaing, worming, behaviour and diet.

After the primary course of vaccinations, your kitten will need to have an annual booster to ensure they remain immune from the diseases. At their annual booster appointment, your vet will give them a full health check and address any concerns you might have about your cat’s health.

I don’t know if my cat has already been vaccinated

If you’ve rehomed an adult cat and aren’t aware of their vaccination history, or if you’ve not taken your cat for their annual vaccination appointment in the last 12 months, you’ll need to arrange for them to have the primary course again. Adult cats can begin the primary course at any time, so if you know they’re not vaccinated, you should contact your vet as soon as possible.


What diseases do the vaccinations protect my kitten against?

Kittens are normally vaccinated against:

  • Cat flu (feline calicivirus and herpes) – cat flu is a contagious and common viral disease that can be spread by eye discharge, nasal discharge, sneezing, contact with infected food bowls and bedding and contact with humans who have been with an infected cat. Cat flu can cause lasting damage to the eyes and can even be fatal, especially to kittens. There’s no specific treatment for cat flu so you should ensure your cat gets vaccinated for it.
  • Feline enteritis (feline parvovirus) – this disease is extremely contagious and can be deadly. If an adult cat has contracted the disease, they might experience vomiting, anorexia, diarrhoea, dehydration and a drop in white blood cells which increases their risk of infections. In kittens, this disease can cause death, blindness and abnormalities.
  • Feline leukaemia (feLV) – this is a very serious disease that can severely damage your cat’s immune system, making them more prone to suffer from infections and other diseases. It can also cause neurological issues, anaemia, infertility and cancer. feLV spreads through close contact with other cats, for example, sharing food bowls, sharing bedding and grooming. If a mother cat is infected, her kittens will be infected with the disease from birth and there is no treatment for the disease. Cats that contract this disease generally only live 3 to 4 years after being diagnosed.

What side effects should I look out for?

Common side effects

You can expect to see some slight side effects after your kitten has been vaccinated. The below side effects tend to last between a few hours and a few days and normally disappear without needing treatment:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Mild swelling around the vaccine area
  • Low energy
  • Eating less

Less common side effects

If your kitten starts experiencing some of these less common side effects, you should monitor them and contact your vet if their condition starts worsening or they experience side effects for more than 24 – 48 hours.

  • Twitching
  • Itchy skin
  • Limping
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting

Very rare side effects

In extremely rare circumstances, vaccines can cause severe allergic reactions known as anaphylaxis. You need to take your kitten to the vets urgently if they are experiencing any of the below after a vaccination.  Symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

  • Swelling anywhere on the body
  • Seizures/collapsing
  • Pounding heartbeat
  • Cold ears, legs and feet
  • Difficulty breathing

How much do kitten vaccinations cost?

The price of kitten vaccinations varies from practice to practice. You need to bear in mind that pet insurance doesn’t cover routine treatments such as vaccinations, so you won’t be able to claim back the cost. However, some vets offer healthcare plans, allowing you to spread the cost of routine treatments such as fleaing, worming and vaccinations across a 12 month period. A fully comprehensive healthcare plan costs around £10 a month for cats and often comes with other great benefits such as discounts on neutering, dental procedures, microchipping and more

Kitten vaccination FAQs

Is my kitten vaccinated for life?

If you want to give your cat immunity for life, you need to make sure they have their annual booster vaccinations on time. Your cat will need booster vaccinations for certain diseases every year, whereas some other diseases only require a booster vaccine to be given every three years. Your vet will be able to advise on how often each vaccine needs to be given.

I missed my cat's booster vaccination last year, can they just have the vaccine this year instead?

If more than 15 months have passed since they had their last vaccine, it’s likely that you will need to restart your cat’s vaccination programme from the beginning. In this case, you should contact your vet and they will be able to advise you further.

Is my cat 100% protected against the diseases?

No vaccine gives 100% protection against any disease, but it is rare for your cat to catch a disease they have been vaccinated against. If they do, they’re likely to experience fewer symptoms and have a higher chance of recovery.

My cat is on medication, can they still be vaccinated?

Most medications won’t affect your cat’s vaccinations, however, it’s best to discuss this with your vet first.

Are vaccines required by law?

You’re not legally required to get your cat vaccinated. But vaccinations are essential for maintaining your cat’s health. The only exception is the rabies vaccine which is a legal requirement if you’re taking your cat abroad.

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Whilst cat insurance isn’t a legal requirement, it can help alleviate some of the financial stress associated with taking your cat to the vets. Vet fees can easily run into the thousands if your cat needs surgery. But if you have an adequate pet insurance policy, you have peace of mind knowing that if the worst were to happen, you’re financially protected.

If you compare policies based on price alone, you could inadvertently pick an inadequate policy with minimal cover. We recommend that you take the time to compare policy benefits as well as reading insurer’s reviews to get an idea of how they treat their customers. The last thing you want to do is purchase a policy from a provider that is known to avoid paying out claims. Our comparison table highlights insurers that provide excellent policies and deliver exceptional customer service.


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