Cat Tips

Common symptoms of kitty illness include hiding for more than a day, loss of appetite, change in litter box routine and lack of grooming. If you detect any of these behavioral changes, meet with your veterinarian.

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Expert Q&A

When should a kitten get its first shots?

BY: The Daily Cat experts

Kittens typically receive their first round of shots when they are 8 to 9 weeks old. Most vaccinations prevent illness by introducing a small amount of the disease-causing organism into the individual’s body. This stimulates the immune system, leading to the creation of antibodies that can protect your cat against a possible, more full-blown version of the disease. The antibodies diminish over time, so your kitten will need booster shots throughout its life. Your veterinarian will advise you as to when these are needed.

Usually, that first round of shots is a single “cocktail” that will help safeguard your pet against three diseases: feline panleukopenia, which is a contagious and often deadly viral disease; feline rhinotracheitis, which can cause acute respiratory illness; and feline calicivirus, another viral illness that can create severe respiratory problems.

Your veterinarian will likely advise that you have your kitten tested for feline leukemia. You may also need to vaccinate your cat against rabies, as that is required in some states. No vaccination is 100 percent effective, however, so it is a good idea to keep your cat inside at all times, with limited exposure to screens and windows that may have been marked by outdoor animals. Distemper and rabies are just two of the many illnesses that spread more easily to outdoor cats. Your indoor-only kitty will also avoid all of the other obvious outdoor dangers, such as cars and garden poisons.

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