The American Association of Feline Practitioners recommends that all kittens receive the core vaccines consisting of FVRCP and Rabies.
- FVRCP stands for feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia. These are the diseases that kittens can easily contract and die from. The first dose of FVRCP vaccine can be given as early as 6 weeks of age and should then be given every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age. Kittens who receive their first dose after 16 weeks of age require 2 initial doses 3-4 weeks apart. The vaccine can then be boostered in 1 year and then every 3 years thereafter.
- Rabies is required by law. Rabies vaccine is administered as a single initial dose as early as 8 or 12 weeks of age depending on the vaccine. It is boostered at one year and then yearly or every 3 years depending on the vaccine. Rabies vaccinations are extremely important because rabies can be transmitted amongst different species including humans. Animals who do not have a rabies vaccine history and bite humans or other animals may be euthanized.
The non-core vaccines consist of FeLV and FIV. These vaccines should be administered based on the cat’s lifestyle.
- FeLV stands for feline leukemia virus. Feline leukemia virus suppresses the immune system and makes cats very vulnerable to a host of other diseases. It is easily transmitted amongst cats via saliva in instances such as grooming and sharing water bowls. Cats who go outdoors should be vaccinated against FeLV. The vaccine requires 2 initial doses, the first dose as early as 8-12 weeks of age and the second dose 3-4 weeks after. This vaccine needs to be boostered yearly.
- FIV stands for feline immunodeficiency virus. Feline immunodeficiency virus suppresses the immune system and makes cats very vulnerable to a host of other diseases. It is most commonly transmitted amongst cats who are aggressive and have severe bite wounds and/or mate with FIV positive cats. FIV vaccination however results in antibody production that is indistinguishable from an actual FIV infection. This results in a scenario where if a cat were to be caught outdoors without any identification and tested for FIV, they would test positive and may possibly be euthanized. Careful consideration should be taken before electing to use this vaccine. The vaccine requires 3 initial doses, as early as 8 weeks of age and then 2-3 weeks apart. This vaccine needs to be boostered yearly.
Fecal testing and deworming
- As a general recommendation it is a good idea to have at least two negative fecals in the first year of life. Most fecal tests will screen for various eggs, parasites and giardia. Kittens should also be dewormed at a minimum the 3 times they receive their initial FVRCP vaccines. Strongid is the most common dewormer that is used.
Flea and tick prevention
- Flea and tick prevention is always a good idea due to the deadly diseases than can be transmitted by their infestation. Flea and tick preventatives should be administered according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
NOTE ABOUT INDOOR/OUTDOOR CATS
The author recommends that cats be kept indoors as there are many dangers for outdoor cats ranging from disease to traumatic injuries.