Regular vaccinations are very important for the health and safety of your cat. If you choose to vaccinate your cat at home, consult with your veterinarian during your annual exam on what vaccines to give and how often.
Be sure to understand what kind of vaccine you are ordering, before you purchase it or administer it. Subcutaneous vaccinations are those given just under the skin, while some other vaccines for cats may be intranasal which are given as drops in the nose and eyes.
Both types are easy enough for many pet owners to administer at home.
If the needle and syringe are not included in the vaccine you order, you will need to purchase them separately. Be sure you have separate needles/syringes for each vaccine and cat in your home and do not use them more than once.
Some cat vaccines come in a single vial that requires no mixing and are ready to use. Others vaccines, however, come with two vials - a powder and a liquid portion. Combining the two activates the vaccine.
If you have a vaccine that needs to be mixed, use the following steps to mix and prepare the vaccine:
- With the cap covering the needle, tighten the needle on your syringe, remove the cap and insert the syringe into the liquid vial. Withdraw all the liquid by holding the vial upside down and holding the syringe vertically. Take care to avoid contact with the needle.
- Inject the liquid into the second vial containing freeze-dried or powdered vaccine.
- Shake the second vial for a few seconds to mix the liquid and powder well.
- Then, withdraw the entire mixed contents. Be sure to express any excess air from the syringe.
- Re-cap the needle until you are ready to give the vaccine.
If you have a single vial vaccine, withdraw the contents of the vial, express the air, and re-cap the needle.
Administering the Vaccine
The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) recommends that each type of feline vaccine be given to cats in a specific location on the body.
For feline 3-way or 4-way combination vaccines that do NOT contain feline leukemia, the injection should be given on the outside portion of the right front leg below the elbow joint.
For rabies vaccines (which are administered by your veterinarian) the injection should be given subcutaneously on the outside of the right rear leg below the knee.
For feline leukemia vaccines, the injection should be given on the outside of the left rear leg, below the knee.
Position yourself next to your cat's right shoulder, opposite your helper, with your cat between the two of you. Have your helper hold your cat gently, possibly distracting her with a toy or a treat.
When giving the vaccine, remove the cap from the needle, lift the skin at the injection site, and insert the needle. Pull back on the syringe to be sure you are not in a blood vessel, in which case blood would come into the syringe. Inject the entire amount of vaccine.
It's that easy and safe. Your pet will hardly notice the injection.
When you have finished vaccinating your cat, recap the needle and set it aside. Do not dispose of the needle or syringe in your garbage. We suggest you take it to your local pharmacy or public health clinic for disposal.
After your vaccination session, be sure to reward your good cat with a small treat and lots of praise. Also, monitor your cat for several hours after the vaccination.
Some vaccines are not injectable, but instead are designed to be applied in your cat's nose and eyes. These vaccines will need to be mixed.
To give this type of vaccine, remove the metal seal and rubber stopper from each vial.
Using the enclosed dropper, rehydrate the dry portion of the vaccine with the accompanying liquid portion of the vaccine. Replace the rubber stopper and shake until dissolved. Remove the stopper and immediately withdraw the rehydrated vaccine into the dropper.
Place one drop of vaccine in the corner of each eye.
The remaining vaccine is administered by placing the vaccine equally in each nostril as the animal inhales.
After administering intranasal vaccines, be sure to reward your good cat with a small treat and lots of praise. Also monitor your cat for several hours after the vaccination. As always, if you have any questions about your cat's vaccine, or observe any abnormal activity in your cat, please call your veterinarian.
Watch our video on How to Vaccinate Your Cat at Home.