What vaccinations does my kitten need?
Kittens should get their first set of shots between the ages of 6 to 8 weeks. They need repeat vaccines every 3 to 4 weeks until they are 15 to 16 weeks of age. The vaccines should protect against feline panleukopenia (“distemper”) and the upper respiratory viruses (herpesvirus, calicivirus). In addition, at risk cats should receive the feline leukemia vaccine and rabies vaccine.
Kittens receive immunity against infectious disease from their mother’s milk, although this protection begins to disappear in the first few months of life. To protect kittens during this critical time, a well-researched approach is taken: A series of vaccines is given every 3 to 4 weeks until the chance of contracting an infectious disease is very low. The typical vaccine is a “combination” that protects against feline distemper virus, feline calicivirus and feline herpesvirus. Rabies vaccines are given between 16 and 26 weeks of age in most states (governed by law). Many cats are also immunized against feline leukemia virus. The usual approach is to test the kitten for feline leukemia at the time of initial vaccination to ensure the cat is not harboring the virus.