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Vaccinations for Kittens and Cats

Lucky for us, there are vaccines to help prevent many illnesses that affect cats. Vaccinating your cat has long been considered one of the easiest ways to help her live a long, healthy life. Not only are there different vaccines for different diseases, there are different types and combinations of vaccines.

Although vaccination has the potential to protect pets against life-threatening diseases, vaccination is not without its risks. Recently, there has been some controversy regarding duration of protection and timing of vaccination, as well as the safety and necessity of certain vaccines. What does this all mean for your cat? Vaccination is a procedure that has risks and benefits that must be weighed for every patient relative to their lifestyle and health. Your veterinarian can determine a vaccination regime that will provide the safest and best protection for your individual cat. Here are answers to some of your most frequently asked questions regarding vaccines:

What Exactly Are Vaccines?

Vaccines help prepare the body's immune system to fight the invasion of disease-causing organisms. Vaccines contain antigens, which look like the disease-causing organism to the immune system but don't actually cause disease. When the vaccine is introduced to the body, the immune system is mildly stimulated. If a cat is ever exposed to the real disease, his immune system is now prepared to recognize and fight it off entirely or reduce its severity.

How Important Are Vaccines to the Health of My Cat?

Bottom line-vaccines are very important in managing the health of your cats. That said, not every cat needs to be vaccinated against every disease. It is very important to discuss with your veterinarian a vaccination protocol that's right for your cat. Factors that should be examined include age, medical history, environment and lifestyle. Most vets highly recommend administering core vaccines to healthy cats.

What Are Core Vaccines?

The American Association of Feline Practitioners divided vaccines into two categories-core and non-core. Core vaccines are considered vital to all cats and protect against panleukopenia (feline distemper), feline calici virus, feline herpes virus type I (rhinotracheitis) and rabies. Non-core vaccines are given depending on the cat's lifestyle; these include vaccines for feline leukemia virus, Bordetella, Chylamydophila felis and feline immunodeficiency virus. Your veterinarian can determine what vaccines are best for your cat.