Reader Question: What Vaccines Should My Kitten Have?

What Vaccines Should My Kitten Have?
CatChannel veterinary expert Arnold Plotnick, DVM, discusses pediatric vaccination series for cats.

Dr. Arnold Plotnick is one of CatChannel's feline health experts.

Q: I have a kitten. She is 12 to 16 weeks of age. She has not had any shots yet. What shots should I give her? Also, are the shots that you apply into eye & nose as effective as those given with a needle? I will be administering these shots myself and wanted to know the safest and easiest way.

A: Ideally, the kitten vaccination series should begin when kittens are 9 weeks of age. Kittens should be vaccinated against  panleukopenia virus, herpesvirus, and calicivirus (These viruses are usually combined into a single vaccine, commonly abbreviated “FVRCP”). A second vaccine is given 3 to 4 weeks later, and another 3 to 4 weeks after that. You’ve already gone past that ideal first vaccination age. Let’s assume she’s 12 weeks old. Give her the first FVRCP now. In about 4 weeks, give her another FVRCP vaccine, and her rabies vaccine. That should complete her pediatric vaccination series.

The intranasal vaccine is not the ideal vaccine for your cat. The intranasal vaccine is usually given to cats in multi-cat environments, e.g. shelters or catteries that are experiencing or are at increased risk for an outbreak of viral upper respiratory infections. The intranasal vaccine induces more rapid immunity than the injectible vaccine, and can be given to kittens as young as 4 weeks of age. For a pet kitten in a clean, noncrowded environment, the injectable vaccine is preferred. Most people feel that although the intranasal vaccine provides a more rapid induction of the immune response, the immunity conferred is not as durable, especially in regard to the panleukopenia virus component of the vaccine.