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What You Need To Know About Kitten Vaccinations

kitten vaccinations

The kitten phase is one of the most precious moments in your cat’s life. In addition to being an unbearably cute period, though, it’s a critically important one for getting kitten vaccinations that will set them up for a long, healthy life.


To make sure they stay on the right track, we’re sharing the most important things you need to know about kitten vaccinations. That includes when to schedule them, which ones are required, what they cost, and potential side effects.

Why Kitten Vaccinations Are So Important

We advocate for kitten vaccines not just because of how important they are for your cat’s healthy life, but also because kittens are especially susceptible to diseases before they reach 6 months of age.


That doesn’t mean that your kitten starts its life completely defenseless, though. Its mother does pass on certain antibodies through nursing. Though these antibodies serve to protect against diseases, it’s not entirely beneficial for the long-term because they can keep the kitten’s body from accepting vaccinations.


That’s why we recommend kitten vaccinations start between 6 and 8 weeks of age. We start with core vaccines that are repeated every 3 to 4 weeks until the kitten reaches four to five months of age. We then schedule a booster of this set of kitten vaccinations a year later.

The Difference Between Core and Non-Core Kitten Vaccinations

You may have heard mention of core and non-core kitten shots. Core cat vaccinations are intended to protect against common and/or dangerous diseases. Because of this, they are recommended for all kittens and cats.


An example of a core cat vaccination is rabies.


Non-core cat vaccinations, on the other hand, are reserved for cats with a higher risk of infection. This risk is based on your cat’s lifestyle.


Non-core vaccinations are recommended only for those cats that are at high risk of infection. In the case of non-core vaccinations, your vet will assess your cat’s lifestyle to determine the risk of disease and whether it’s greater than the risk of vaccination.


An example of a non-core cat vaccination is bordetella.

What Kitten Vaccines Are Necessary

Today we are focusing on core kitten vaccinations you need to know about. There is consensus that kittens need two vaccinations, with a third often being administered as well.

Kitten Vaccination #1: FVRCP

FVRCP, or feline rhinotracheitis, feline calicivirus, and feline panleukopenia, is a common disease in the cat population.


The FVRCP kitten shot protects against all three of these in a single vaccine.


  • Feline calicivirus – Causes of feline upper respiratory infections.
  • Feline viral rhinotracheitis – Major cause of upper respiratory infections, and highly contagious. It is caused by feline herpes virus type 1. Infected cats become carriers.
  • Feline panleukopenia – Caused by feline parvovirus, and is highly contagious between cats.


The FVRCP vaccination can start at 6 weeks of age, though it is more common to start at 8 weeks and do vaccination boosters ast 12 and 16 weeks.

Kitten Vaccination #2: Rabies

As a fatal disease that affects cats and can be transmitted to humans, rabies is another important kitten vaccination. 


Though your kitten can get their rabies vaccination starting at 12 weeks of age, this depends on both your veterinarian and the state laws.


Kitten Vaccination #3: FeLV

Many veterinarians recommend the FeLV, or feline leukemia virus, vaccine. This recommendation generally comes from a conversation with your cat veterinarian about your cat’s lifestyle. 


FeLV can be transferred between mother cats and their kittens, or between an infected cat and other cats. This means outdoors cats can be more at risk.


This vaccination schedule starts between 8 and 12 weeks of age, with a booster 3 to 4 weeks later. 

Your Kitten Vaccination Schedule

To help you follow along, here is a sample kitten shot schedule. 


Kittens between 6-8 weeks:

  • FVRCP required – #1
  • FeLV highly recommended


Kittens between 10-12 weeks:

  • FVRCP required – #2
  • FeLV highly recommended


Kittens between 14-16 weeks:

  • FVRCP required – #3
  • Rabies required – timing depends on state law
  • FeLV highly recommended


Required 1-year boosters for kitten vaccines:

  • FVRCP 
  • Rabies 

What Do Kitten Vaccinations Cost

The costs of your kitten shots will vary depending on where you live and the manufacturer. Generally, you can expect each to cost between $25 and $50. 

Are There Side Effects To Kitten Vaccinations

If there are side effects to kitten vaccinations, they are often quite mild. These include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lump at injection spot
  • Mild fever
  • Tiredness
  • Soreness at injection spot

Scheduling Your Kitten Vaccinations

At Catonsville Cat Clinic, we’ve been helping cats and cat owners since 1997, and it’s our mission to continue providing complete and compassionate care for your feline family.


If you have questions about which vaccinations are right for your kitten – or you’re ready to get your kitten started – please get in touch with our team of cat veterinarians today. 

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 4th, 2023 at 3:29 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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