Vaccinating your Kitten & Adult Cat

Kitten – Core Vaccination Schedule + Deworming:

  • 8 weeks: Vaccinated against – Feline Calicivirus (FCV), Rhinotracheitis (Feline Herpes Virus Type 1 – FHV-1), Feline Panleukopenia Virus (FPV) and Rabies.
  • 8 weeks: Deworming, check with your veterinarian about continued deworming schedule.  
  • 12 weeks: Same as at 8 weeks + 1st Rabies vaccination + Deworming
  • 16 weeks: Rabies booster + Deworming
  • Yearly vaccinations are essential to maintain immunity against these deadly diseases + Deworming every 3 months.
  • Adults – Two doses 3 weeks apart

Non-Core but Highly Recommended Vaccination:

  • Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV)
    • 8 – 9 weeks: first dose
    • 3 weeks later: second dose
    • After initial two vaccinations, yearly vaccination is essential to maintain immunity
    • Adults – Two doses 3 weeks apart
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica
    • As early as 4 weeks of age, a single dose intranasal
    • Annual booster is indicated for cats with sustained risk
    • Adults – Administer a single dose intranasal
  • Chlamydia felis
    • Initial dose at 8 weeks of age or older. A second dose is given 3 weeks later
    • Annual booster is indicated for cats with sustained risk
    • Adults – Two doses 3 weeks apart

Vaccination information:

Anyone who cares for his or her cat will want to protect it in this way and vaccination is a critical part of a proper preventive healthcare programme.

A vaccine is usually given by an injection under the skin, although sometimes may be given as drops into the eyes or nose. It is a preparation designed to provide protection against a specific infectious disease through stimulating an immune response that will protect the cat if it is subsequently exposed to the infection.

Calici virus

Feline Calici Virus (FCV) is an upper respiratory virus in cats. Calici virus causes similar clinical signs to Rhinotracheitis and preferentially infects the oral cavity, causing sneezing, runny nose and oral ulcers. Some strains of the virus may cause pneumonia. Unless a secondary bacterial infection develops, there is no specific treatment for calicivirus.

Your cat can get either calicivirus or rhinotracheitis from the sneezes of a sick cat or if you come in contact with a sick cat and then pet your cat, you may inadvertently spread the virus.

Rhinotracheitis (Feline Herpes Virus)

Rhinotracheitis – (FHV-1) is also an upper respiratory virus in cats. Rhinotracheitis is a feline herpes virus that causes fever, sneezing, a runny nose and eyes. Most cats recover, but kittens can be severely affected and develop oral and corneal ulcers, causing loss of appetite and dehydration in young kittens. Chronic infection can also occur since it is a herpes virus.

Panleukopenia (Feline Distemper)

Feline Panleukopenia Virus (FPV) is caused by the feline parvovirus and symptoms are similar to the canine parvovirus, which can be a deadly disease. Feline panleukopenia virus infection is usually found in kittens or young cats, these kittens or young cats ingest the virus, which attacks the rapidly dividing cells in their bone marrow and intestinal tract, resulting in severe vomiting and diarrhea.

When a veterinarian examines the sick pet, she discovers dehydration, protein loss from diarrhea and a dangerously low white blood cell count because of the virus’s effect on the bone marrow cells. Pneumonia can also develop and complicate the infection. Kittens with feline panleukopenia virus infection are critically ill and unfortunately, many cannot be saved. No specific treatment for the feline distemper virus exists although therapy is directed at preventing dehydration, controlling vomiting and diarrhea and treating infections that occur when the white blood cell count gets dangerously low.

Feline Leukemia Virus

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) is a transmittable RNA retrovirus that can severely inhibit a cat’s immune system and is the leading cause of death in cats, killing 85% of persistently infected felines within three years of diagnosis. FeLV can be transmitted from infected cats when the transfer of saliva or nasal secretions is involved, including bites, sharing food and water bowls, and from simply living together.

The virus commonly causes anemia or lymphoma, but because it suppresses the immune system, it can also predispose cats to deadly infections.

It is one of the most commonly diagnosed causes of disease and death in domestic cats.


Rabies virus is a viral disease that specifically affects a cat’s central nervous system (CNS). The primary way the rabies virus is transmitted to cats is through a bite from a disease carrier. Infectious virus particles are retained in a rabid animal’s salivary glands to better disseminate the virus through their saliva.

Once the virus enters the cat’s body, it replicates in the cells of the muscles and then spreads to the closest nerve fibers, including all peripheral, sensory and motor nerves, traveling from there to the CNS via fluid within the nerves. The incubation of rabies is, on average, between one and three months, but can be as little as a day and up to a year. Once the symptoms have begun, the virus progresses rapidly.

This is a fast-moving virus. If it is not treated soon after the symptoms have begun, the prognosis is poor. Therefore, if your cat has been in a fight with another animal, or has been bitten or scratched by another animal, or if you have any reason to suspect that your pet has come into contact with a rabid animal (even if your pet has been vaccinated against the virus), you must take your cat to a veterinarian for preventive care immediately.

Bordetella bronchispetica

Bordetella bronbchiseptica (B. bronchispetica) is a bacterium that can cause disease in a number of animals, and also rarely in humans.
This bacterium can be a cause of upper respiratory disease in cats, but is mainly a problem where cats are kept together in large groups such as rescue shelters and some breeding households. Bordetella bronchispetica infections can be treated successfully with antibiotics, and for situations where it causes significant ongoing problems, an effective vaccine is available in many countries.

Chlamydia Felis

Chlamydia (Chlamydophila felis) causes respiratory disease in cats and, along with herpes, is thought to be the underlying cause of most upper respiratory infections in cats. Many cats are likely carriers, meaning the bacteria is in their body even if it is not causing signs. Because chlamydia can cause illness and is easily spread between animals it is recommended to vaccinate cats in catteries, breeders and shelters.

Resource: SAVA – South African Veterinary Association – Vaccination Guideline

Resource: Vaccinating Your Kitten

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