Welcoming a new kitten into your home is an exciting adventure! To ensure they enjoy a long and healthy life, it's crucial to protect them with essential vaccinations against common feline diseases. Bloorcourt Vet Clinic provides a series of three comprehensive exams and vaccinations during the critical early months of your kitten's life, helping them grow into a strong and vibrant cat.
What's included in a kitten exam?
During the initial part of your kitten's visit, our veterinary technicians will have a detailed discussion with you about your kitten's lifestyle, including their diet, activity levels, and any behavioural changes. This conversation helps us identify early signs of health issues and address any concerns you might have overlooked. Following this, the veterinarian will conduct a detailed and gentle physical examination. The checkup includes a thorough assessment of your kitten's ears, eyes, nose, mouth, teeth, abdomen, limbs, skin, fur, and lymph nodes, along with a careful evaluation of their heart and lungs. We employ Fear Free methods and offer treats to make the experience as stress-free as possible for your kitten, ensuring they remain calm and do not develop anxieties about vet visits.
How do you support new kitten owners?
Raising a kitten involves a steep learning curve. During the three consecutive monthly visits for your kitten's exams and vaccines, we also provide coaching and guidance on various aspects of kitten care. This includes advice on litter box training; socialization; carrier acclimatization; handling of their mouth, paws, and ears to facilitate tooth brushing, nail trimming and ear cleaning as they grow up; deworming; parasite prevention; household hazards; indoor enrichment and outdoor risks; nutrition; and pet insurance. At your final kitten visit we also prepare you for your kitten's spaying or neutering surgery [hyperlink to spaying & neutering page] and discuss the benefits of microchipping [hyperlink to microchipping page].
Why are multiple vaccines necessary for kittens?
Vaccinations prime your kitten's immune system to fight off harmful viral diseases. While maternal antibodies offer initial protection, they gradually wane, leaving kittens susceptible. A series of vaccinations is therefore crucial to maintain continuous protection during this vulnerable phase, ensuring lasting immunity as the kitten matures.
What is the kitten vaccination schedule?
- FVRCP Vaccine (protection against feline herpesvirus, calicivirus, and panleukopenia): Administered at 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age.
- Feline Leukemia Vaccine: Given at 12 and 16 weeks (recommended for initial immunity even if your cats will be indoor-only)
- Rabies Vaccine: At 16 weeks of age.
- First Annual Boosters: At 16 months of age to finalize the kitten series. After this, your fully vaccinated cat can transition to an adult vaccination schedule, and some vaccines only need to be given every 3 years.
Timeliness is key for vaccines to be effective. If your kitten’s vaccines are delayed it can increase their disease risk, and certain vaccines need to be boosted within a specific window to effectively train your kitten’s immune system. If a booster is delayed, additional doses may be needed for complete protection. To keep your kitten safe, keep them away from unvaccinated or sick cats and keep them completely indoors until they are fully vaccinated.
Are vaccines safe for kittens?
Vaccinations are generally safe – reactions or allergies are very rare, and if side effects occur they are usually mild, like soreness at the injection site or temporary lethargy. Your veterinarian will always discuss potential risks and what to watch out for after your kitten’s vaccines. Overall, the risks of the diseases these vaccines protect against are much more serious:
- FVRCP Vaccine: Protects your kitten against common and highly contagious respiratory diseases in cats, which are painful and can be fatal
- Rabies Vaccine: Protects your kitten against rabies, which is a terrible and fatal disease that can even be spread to 100% indoor cats by bats. The rabies vaccine is required by law in Toronto and being vaccinated protects your cat against extremely strict public health quarantine laws if they are ever suspected to have had contact with a rabid bat or other animal
- Feline Leukemia Vaccine: Prevents a serious and eventually fatal immune system disease. While this vaccine is optional for 100% indoor adult cats, we recommend it for all kittens since they have a higher risk of infection, and to ensure that every kitten has initial immunity against this preventable disease. The feline leukemia vaccine is included in our Kitten Exam and Vaccine package at no additional cost.
Why is an exam needed every time my kitten gets vaccines?
Administering vaccines to a sick kitten can overburden their immune system. Furthermore, if your kitten is already fighting an illness, their immune system may not be strong enough to create antibodies in response to the vaccine, making it ineffective. This is why a physical exam is essential before any vaccination, as a veterinarian always must confirm your kitten is in good health on the day of the vaccine.