Complete Guide to First-Year Kitten Vaccinations


Bryan Huynh

- Updated February 21, 2024

Complete Guide to First-Year Kitten Vaccinations

Welcome to the wonderful world of kitten parenthood! Your furry bundle of joy is now here to fill your days with cuddles, play, and endless happiness. As you go through your checklist for your new kitten, there's a crucial step that stands out: taking your adorable ball of fur to the vet for checkups and vaccinations. These vaccinations guard your kitten against specific illnesses and stop diseases from spreading. This guide will lead you through the basics of kitten vaccines, ensuring that your little one's journey begins on the right paw!


Kitten Vaccine Checklist

  • Feline rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia (FVRCP)
  • Rabies
  • Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) (optional)
  • Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) (optional)
  • Chlamydia felis (optional)
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica (optional)

What Shots Do Kittens Need?

Feline rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia (FVRCP)

Every little kitten needs a shot that shields them from feline rhinotracheitis, feline calicivirus, and feline panleukopenia (FVRCP). These diseases often hang around in most cats. Thankfully, a single combo vaccine usually takes care of defense against all three troublemakers.

Feline rhinotracheitis

This disease is extremely contagious among cats and is a primary driver of upper respiratory infections. Once a cat contracts the infection, it becomes a lifelong carrier of the virus. Kittens and older cats are especially vulnerable to this infection.

Feline calicivirus

This highly contagious virus is known for triggering intense upper respiratory infections and, in certain instances, even pneumonia. Just like with feline viral rhinotracheitis, the risk of severe symptoms is higher in both kittens and older adult cats.

Feline panleukopenia

Feline panleukopenia, caused by feline parvovirus, is another highly contagious disease among cats. Also referred to as feline distemper, this virus typically causes fever, lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea. In some cases, it can lead to a fatal outcome.


This fatal viral disease affects mammals, including cats and humans, and is typically transmitted through bites from infected animals. Common rabies symptoms include fever, agitation, aggression, and eventually paralysis and death.

Optional kitten vaccines

Certain vaccines are suggested based on a cat's individual circumstances, such as their lifestyle, location, interaction with other cats, and health status. For example, if your kitten spends time outdoors and interacts with other outdoor cats, your veterinarian might advise specific vaccinations like the following:

Feline leukemia virus (FeLV)

This one comes highly recommended by many veterinarians, so much so that we’re including it in the kitten vaccine schedule listed below. Feline leukemia is a viral disease that kittens can contract from their mother or through close contact with infected cats.

Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)

The feline immunodeficiency virus weakens the immune system, making a cat prone to various infections. It spreads through bite wounds inflicted by an infected cat, posing a higher risk of transmission for outdoor cats.

Chlamydia felis

This bacterium leads to conjunctivitis and minor upper respiratory infections in cats. Younger cats and kittens are especially susceptible. The vaccine is recommended for cats that regularly visit groomers and kennels or reside in households with multiple cats.

Bordetella bronchiseptica

Bordetella triggers upper respiratory infections. Vulnerable cats include those that interact closely with other cats or dogs, like those in rescue centers, shelters, or homes with multiple animals.


Kitten Vaccine Schedule

  • 6 to 8 weeks old: FVRCP required, FeLV recommended
  • 10 to 12 weeks old: FVRCP required (second in series), FeLV recommended
  • 14 to 16 weeks old: FVRCP required (third in series), Rabies required by law, FeLV recommended
  • 1-year booster: FVRCP booster required, Rabies booster required by law

When Do Kittens Get Shots?

In their first 6 months, kittens are at their most susceptible to infectious diseases. This makes it vital to ensure your kitten gets the protection they require through timely and suitable vaccinations.

When do kittens get their feline rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia (FVRCP) vaccine?

You can start the kitten vaccination schedule for FVRCP at just 6 weeks of age. Kittens receive vaccinations every 3 to 4 weeks until they're 16 weeks old or older. Veterinarians usually suggest beginning the vaccine regimen at 8 weeks, then giving boosters at 12 and 16 weeks of age.

When do kittens get their rabies vaccine?

Your kitten can get a rabies vaccination starting at 12 weeks old, although this varies based on state regulations and your veterinarian's advice. Reach out to your vet for further information.

When do kittens get their feline leukemia virus (FeLV) vaccine?

You can start vaccination between 8 to 12 weeks of age and then administer a booster shot 3 to 4 weeks after the initial vaccine.

When Should Kittens Have All Their Shots By?

Timing plays a decisive role in kitten vaccinations. Vaccines should follow the fading of maternal antibodies (which could interfere with vaccine response), but not wait until they're entirely gone. Typically, kittens commence their immunization process at 6 to 8 weeks old, followed by boosters every 3 to 4 weeks. This cycle wraps up at around 4 months of age.

When Do Kittens Need Booster Shots?

Boosting vaccines is recommended one year after the initial series, which is why kitten vaccinations kick off between 6 to 8 weeks of age and continue every 3 to 4 weeks until the kitten reaches 16 to 20 weeks old.


How Much Do Kitten Shots Cost?

The cost of each vaccine varies based on the manufacturer and your location. Your kitten will probably require a health check to verify they're fit for vaccinations. The first check-up is usually conducted by a veterinarian, while subsequent visits can be with either the vet or a certified technician. The expense of the initial examination can differ. Follow-up appointments might be more affordable when handled by a technician. Consult your vet before scheduling any appointments.

Are Kitten Shots Covered by Pet Insurance?

Certain pet insurance companies provide coverage for pet vaccination shots, typically through routine care or pet wellness plans that help with the cost of regular care like flea prevention and exams. These wellness plans come in various tiers, with basic options covering checkups and more comprehensive pet insurance plans potentially including dental care and spaying.


Write Your Kitten's Health Story

Your kitten's health and happiness is a journey. First-year vaccinations stand as the first step toward a long and fit life. a fundamental step. From protecting against common feline diseases to fostering a strong immune system, vaccines play a pivotal role in protecting your furry friend's future. The easiest way to provide the best possible care for your new feline family member is to make sure they are properly and promptly vaccinated.

FAQs on Kitten Shots

How do kitten vaccines work?

Following vaccination, the immune system undergoes training to identify infectious agents. If a vaccinated cat encounters these agents later on, it quickly generates antibodies and activates the appropriate cells, resulting in an immune response that effectively eliminates the intruding agent.

Are there any special vaccine considerations for specific breeds?

Some breeds are more prone to specific health concerns. Your vet might adjust their vaccination approach for optimal effect.

Can my kitten receive multiple shots in the same visit?

It's usually safe to administer multiple shots to your kitten during a single veterinary visit. Many kittens receive a blend of vaccines to provide complete coverage in one session. However, for the best care of your kitten, ask your vet first.

What are some mild side effects of kitten vaccinations?

After receiving vaccinations, kittens might experience tiredness, a slight fever, soreness, or a small lump at the injection site.

What are some moderate side effects of kitten vaccinations?

Kittens might experience moderate side effects like vomiting, diarrhea, or a temporary loss of appetite.

What are some severe side effects of kitten vaccinations?

In rare cases, more severe side effects can include facial swelling, hives on the body, difficulty breathing, or even shock. Remember that these are very uncommon occurrences.

What do I do if my cat experiences side effects?

Vaccine side effects are typically mild or rare. Severe reactions are very uncommon. Your veterinary team will explain these possibilities and what signs to watch for. If you notice severe effects, seek help from an emergency vet.

Can my kitten get vaccinated while taking preventive medications like flea preventatives?

Share any medications your kitten is taking with your veterinarian when you bring them in for their vaccinations. Your vet can determine if there are any potential issues.

Can indoor kittens skip certain vaccinations?

Even though indoor kittens face fewer outdoor hazards, it's not recommended to skip certain vaccinations. Some diseases can still affect indoor cats.

Do senior cats need to continue to be vaccinated?

It's important to stick with regular vaccination schedules. Less frequent shots aren't recommended due to the natural weakening of the immune system over time.

Should I increase my senior cat’s vaccinations?

It's unnecessary to increase vaccinations for older cats with a history of immunization. Research has shown that their protective immunity remains effective throughout life.

How do I know if my kitten's vaccinations are up to date?

Review their vaccination record or contact your veterinarian. The record will detail the vaccines and their administration dates. If you're unsure, your veterinarian can clarify your kitten's vaccination status and suggest any required booster shots.

What if a cat is years overdue for a vaccination?

If you're unsure of an adult cat's vaccination history, treat them like they haven't been vaccinated before. Provide them with the complete set of vaccines recommended for kittens. For adult cats overdue for vaccinations, administer booster shots, regardless of the time since their last vaccination.

My kitten was properly vaccinated and still got sick with an upper respiratory infection. Why?

Vaccines aren't completely foolproof. Plus, their level of protection can vary among individual cats. You should limit the exposure of vaccinated cats to other cats or environments where infectious agents might be present.

Can I give my kitten shots at home or should I visit a veterinarian?

Although you can give certain vaccines at home, it's advisable to let a veterinarian manage your kitten's shots. Veterinarians guarantee correct vaccine choices, administration methods, and are equipped to handle any side effects or worries.

What is the difference between pet insurance and a pet wellness plan?

Pet insurance offers financial security for unforeseen health problems. A pet wellness plan aids in covering anticipated expenses for routine care.

How does pet insurance cover vaccinations?

Pet insurance usually includes vaccination coverage as part of an optional wellness plan that can reimburse specific preventive expenses. When your pet receives an eligible vaccine, you can submit a claim to receive reimbursement up to the plan's designated limit.

Is pet vaccine coverage worth it?

Only you can decide if pet vaccine coverage is worth it. Taking a look at benefits that are normally included in a policy might help you decide:

  • Blood, fecal, and parasite exams
  • Flea and tick prevention
  • Heartworm prevention and deworming
  • Microchipping
  • Spaying
  • Teeth cleaning
  • Urinalysis

What does a pet wellness plan not cover?

Pet wellness plans generally do not cover the costs associated with a pet’s illness, disease, or injury due to an accident. Treatments related to pet pregnancy are also excluded, except for the preventive procedure of spaying. Grooming services such as baths, haircuts, and nail trimming are considered luxury services and are not covered under most pet wellness plans.

How much do pet wellness plans cost?

Insurance providers and your location determine your premiums. Traditional pet wellness plans cost more yet offer superior coverage. Get quotes from different providers to find the most affordable rates.

About The Author

Bryan Huynh

Bryan Huynh

Product Tester & Writer

Bryan Huynh is a dedicated Product Tester & Writer. Just as insurance has your back, Bryan works to review and inform you about the wide range of insurance products available, ranging from business, auto, health, home, pet, to life insurance.

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