Preventive Medicine:
Vaccine and other
for Kittens & Young Adult Cats
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For adult cats there is a fair amount of controversy when it comes to what vaccines should be given and how often.... but's there's almost no controversy when it comes to kitten vaccinations.  Once kittens stop being protected by the antibodies in momma's milk, their immature and virgin immune systems are highly susceptible to deadly viral and bacterial diseases.  You can read about them on our page about infectious diseases.  Without the protection that vaccination provides, without parasite control, and without castration, only about half of outdoor cats survive past 4 years old.

Wellness Exams and Vaccine Programs Recommended
for Kittens and Young  Adult Cats

Here's What I Generally Recommend to my Feline Clients at different Life Stages

What your kitten needs to maximize it's chance for a healthy life:

Young kittens 6-7 weeks of age - Your kitten needs a good pediactric exam paying special attention to birth and genetic defects, hernias, heart murmurs, and cleft palettes.  Really look close for ear mites, ringworm, and other parasite problems.

Record of weight, temperature, heart rate, and resp rate
Screen for Ringworm
Microscopic ear wax exam to check for ear mites.

A "3 way" vaccine:  Your kitten needs to be vaccinated for feline distemper (also known as panleukopenia or FPV), herpes viral rhinotracheitis (also known as FHV-1), and calicivirus (also known as FCV). These are all common, highly contagious, and serious illnesses that are easily prevented with early vaccination.  All 3 of these vaccines are combined in 1 vial so we often refer to this "shot" as a "3way" vaccine.  It's very inexpensive and serious side effects are rare.

Deworm with high dose pyrantel
Capstar for fleas if indicated

Play, fondle, enjoy, and bond to the patient
Discuss nutrition choices including vitamins and minerals
Discuss Pet Insurance: This is the most advantageous time to get insurance

Dispense carpet cleaners, litter odor, litter boxes, vitamin supplements, shampoos, grooming aids, and toys as needed.

Dispense a fecalyzer fecal container for the purpose of bringing back a fecal sample on the next visit (just because we gave dewormer doesn't mean there aren't any surviving worms)

Make an appointment to bring back the kitten for a repeat exam and vaccine boosters in 3-4 weeks.  Young kitten immune systems are very immature and initial vaccinations give critical but a very limited duration of protection.

At our hospital, we offer free rechecks for our kitten patients for minor infant bouts of diarrhea, snotty noses, and so forth.  And we send you a reminder a few days before your next visit to bring in a stool sample and to make sure the appointment time is still convenient for you.

Kittens 9-11 weeks old

Once again, we vets are all pretty much in agreement that kitten booster vaccines and vaccination for leukemia are important.

At this stage of development, kittens are like human toddlers and in addition to checking everything over for problems we might have missed on the initial exam, we pay special attention to bone and joint development, ear canals, and eyes.

Record of weight, temperature, heart rate, and resp rate

Consider testing for Feline Leukemia and Feline Aids

Vaccines feline distemper or panleukopenia, herpes viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus.  Vaccination for chlamydophila is no longer recommended in most pets but your vet may have a reason to recommend it.

First of 2 leukemia vaccinations given 3-4 weeks apart.  Leukemia is the number 1 viral threat to your cat.  I recommend it for all kittens even if they are going to be 100% indoors.  We recommend and use the new, effective and safest "Purevax" adjuvant free vaccines as per the guidelines of the Association of Feline Practioners.  These very safe, new technology vaccines are more expensive (about $10 more) so many vets still use the older vaccines.  Both types of vaccines are highly effective but the newer vaccines are much less likely to cause serious side effects... that while uncommon... can be devastating if it's your kitten.  I discuss the controversy of which types of vaccine and how frequently they should be given on the page about adult cat vaccine recommendations.

Your kitten needs a microscopic fecal exam and (at least in the Southeast) another dose of dewormer.
(Controlling intestinal worms is not a one or two time deal.  Think of intestinal worms as you would mouth bacteria... it's a numbers game... you never kill 100% of the bacteria in your mouth.  But if you don't regularly floss, swish, and brush your mouth would be overwhelmed by infection and even your mother wouldn't kiss you.  It similar with worms... we greatly reduce the parasite load with each effective deworming... but we never kill all the larvae encysted in the tissues.)  In addition to round and hook worm problems we will be testing for a parasite called coccidia

Your kitten is now old enough at this age to apply most flea control medications and to start heartworm prevention.  At our clinic we give out a free sample dose of Revolution to get you started.  Note; kittens and cats are much more susceptible to pesticide adverse reactions …sometimes fatal … than are puppies and dogs.  Do not use flea products intended only for dogs on kittens. 

Play, fondle, enjoy, and bond to the patient
Discuss training and destructive problems
Discuss nutrition choices

Dispense litter box deodorizers, waterless shampoo, vitamin supplements, grooming aids, and toys as needed.

Make an appointment for the next visit.  We’ll send you a reminder.

Kittens 14-16 weeks of age

At this stage of development, your kitten’s immune system is mature and able to respond well to vaccines giving at least a year’s worth of excellent disease protection.  This is also the age where we see a lot of development changes in the skin, hair coat, glands, and problems with teething.  Colds and conjunctivitis are common at this age.  Once again, we closely examine your kitten for diseases and problems, make a record of it’s vital signs and discuss training, behavior, grooming, and nutrition.

Once again, we all agree that rabies vaccination (using the new, safer recombinate rabies "Purevax" vaccine) , a leukemia booster (also Purevax), and booster vaccines for feline distemper, herpes, calici should be given to this age group.  The vaccines for FIP, Feline AIDs, Chlamydia, and Feline Cold Complex are all available and recommended by some vets in some circumstances where exposure is exceptionally high, but these vaccines are not recommended any longer for the average pet cat as the benefits aren't considered worth the potential problems.

Now that our hospital has a wireless EKG, we offer a free cardiac EKG screen for kittens at this visit.  This famous device picks up heart defects that we might otherwise miss on routine exam, it makes the upcoming neuter/spay visit safer, and it gives us a baseline for future comparison for this patient.  This is all pretty cool, but it’s not yet a normal feature of a kitten exam in most hospitals.  By the way, heart disease is fairly common in young cats and quite common in middle aged and older cats.  And often, heart disease in cats is “silent” and not easily detected with a stethoscope alone.

Consider a personalized ID tag and Microchipping

Get started using heartworm prevention if your kitten will be outside in areas of the country where heartworm disease is prevalent.

I dispense a free sample of Science Diet T-D to be given as treats as an aid for removing any remaining baby teeth.  Other vets use other products.

Discuss offering your growing kitten a variety of foods, both wet and dry.

Also at this visit, we recommend doing a blood screening test for kidney and liver function and a blood glucose test.  These tests are inexpensive and knowing that these tests are normal greatly increases the safety up the upcoming anesthesia and neutering-spay surgery that we will be recommending for most pets.

Make an appointment for surgical neutering/spaying of your pet.  The ideal time for doing this is between 4 and 6 months of age.

Make an appointment for your cat's next routine wellness exam. Otherwise you’re likely to forget.

Kittens 4-6 months of age:

As discussed above, this is the ideal age for neutering and spaying.  We are very careful with anesthesia … the safety of which has been tremendously improved in the last decade.  We take the precaution of doing pre-anesthetic blood work for liver function, kidney disease, and blood sugar.  We monitor body temperature, hydration, heart rate, blood pressure, gum refill time, respiration rate, oxygen saturation, and run continuous EKG during our surgeries.  And like most vets, we pay special attention to pain management.  For the vast majority of patients, these surgeries go very smoothly.  Most young cats are up and playful within hours.  In fact, I like to keep my spay patients overnight for observation in a ward cage not because I’m overly worried about their recovery but rather I want to enforce rest for at least 12 hours after surgery to prevent these young patients from excessive activity.  The body needs some quiet time to clot and initiate healing.

While your kitten is under anesthesia, consider any additional minor procedures such as hernia repair or declawing if needed.  This is also a convenient time to insert a microchip if not already done.  We also make sure that there are no retained baby teeth at this time.

We have you return about 10-14 days later for suture removal and of course, we check on your post op kitten anytime during this period if there seems to be any trouble with healing or infection etc.

We encourage owners to bring their growing kitten in for a Mid Year Wellness Exam.  Your kitten will be about 10-12 months old if your kitten is on our usual schedule

At this stage of development your kitten IS IN PUBERTY.  Even though your pet was neutered or spayed, there are a lot of hormonal and development changes going on.  This is also a time when there are a lot of behavior problems to discuss.  At any rate, we go over your young cat again and deal with the skin problems, acne, skin or ear allergies, and injuries that are common at this age.  We check out joints carefully. 

Don’t be cynical, we’re not out to get your money with an unneeded visit.  At our practice, this mid year mini check is just $15. 

Another reason for this midyear wellness exam, at least here in the South, is to give your young cat a big midyear bolus of dewormer.  Intestinal parasitism is a constant threat to both your cat and sometimes to your human family members in our part of the country.

We'll also record and discuss your pet’s weight and about changing your pet’s diet from kitten formulas to “Adult” diets.

Vaccines and other recommendations for young adult cats:

We recommend that all 1-2 year old cats get a booster of "3 way" (panleukopenia, herpes,calicivirus)  Use modified live virus vaccines to avoid adjuvants that have been proven to cause cancer in a small number of cat patients.

Rabies vaccine using the new recombinate vaccine without adjuvant.  Rabies vaccination if required by law either yearly, every 2 years, or every 3 years depending on which State you live in.  Unfortunately the new recombinate vaccine is only approved, at present, for 1 year so needs to be given annually.

I highly recommend giving all cats in this age group a single vaccine booster for leukemia.  But for cats over 2 years old, this vaccine is no longer needed unless the cat is sharing the home with a leukemia positive housemate or if the cat has a compromised immune system, or maybe if it's an outdoor roaming cat.  We now know that it's rare for healthy, older, adult cats to contract this disease

The available vaccines for FIP and Feline AIDS (Feline Immuno-deficeincy virus) are no longer recommended for most cats

Rabies certification and tag.

Consider a personalized ID tag and Microchipping

Annual deworming and microscopic fecal check

For cats over 2 years old, please click here to go to our page about our recommendation for adult cats.

On This Page:

How I approach Preventive medicine for different age groups of kittens and young adult cats

A few parasite problems that affect kittens:

Coccidia; a protozoan parasite causing diarrhea and other problems in puppies and kittens

Giardia; an amoebic parasite causing diarrhea, nausea, and other problems in pets

Cryptosporidia; another parasite that causes diarrhea in pets and humans

Our pages about vaccine recommendations for cats, puppies, and dogs: and about other infectious diseases:

Vaccine recommendations for adult cats

Vaccine recommenations 
for dogs    

Vaccine recommendations for puppies

Infectious diseases in pets ... for some of which we have effective vaccines... and for some we don't

Cat Related Information On Other Pages:

Our home page about Cats

Cats that just aren't feeling well..."What to expect when you go to the vet"

A Short History of Cats
and an interesting article about cat extermination in Australia

Feline Heartworm Disease

Urine Spraying and Marking Behavior in Cats


Feline Aids

Feline Hyperthyroidism

Feline Heart Disease

Feline and canine nutrition

Tylenol Sensitivity

Feline Reproduction & Sex

Feline Corona Virus... also known as feline infectious peritonitis or F.I.P.

Feline Infectious enteritis also known as feline panleukopenia or feline distemper

Other infectious diseases of cats and dogs

Respiratory: Feline Asthma

Respiratory: Feline Upper Respiratory Complex (Colds)

Respiratory: Heartworm disease in dogs and cats

Toxoplasmosis from Cats


Cat Scratch Fever

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Hormone Diseases: Diabetes, Thyroid Disease, Cushing's Disease or Hypercortisolism, Addison's disease or Hypocortisolism, Pancreatitis, obesity as a disease

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Kidney Disease

Liver Diseases     

Metabolic Diseases: Diabetes, Thyroid Disease, Cushing's Disease or Hypercortisolism, Addison's disease or Hypocortisolism, Pancreatitis, obesity as a disease

Neural Problems and Diseases: Epilepsy, Rabies, Distemper, FIP, Paralysis, Tetanus, Seizures, Disc Disease, Toxoplasmosis & others

Obesity; new information and about Pfizer's new FDA approved treatment


Parasite Problems; Fleas, Ticks, Heartworms, Intestinal Worms, Mosquitos, Lice, Mites, and other welfare recipients

Poisons  Snakes, Insects, household chemicals, plants, and foods that might poison your pet

Respiratory Diseases

Senior Pet Page: Geriatric Medicine

Skeletal-Muscular Problems Arthritis, Fractures, ACL, Ligament Injuries, Disc Disease, Pannus, and many other problems of the bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments

Skin Problems: allergies, rashes, bacterial infections, and itching. Hair Loss, Yeast Infections, Hormonal Problems

Surgery: Spays, Castrations, Testicle Recipes, Soft Tissue Surgery, Hard Tissue Surgery (Bones), C- Sections, Declawing, Tumor Removal and Cancer Surgery

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Urinary Tract Diseases and Problems

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Also newborn care, undescended testicles, and alternative to spaying and castration

Vaccine and other preventive health recommendations

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Our Dog Page:  a directory of problems of concern in dogs including parvovirus, distemper, canine herpes, and other diseases

Veterinary Pet Insurance