When you first adopt a kitten, you learn that in addition to an initial dose of protective vaccines, most veterinarians suggest bringing the kitten back in for booster shots. If you're wondering why your kitten needs these booster shots, this article is for you.

What Booster Shots Aren't For

One common belief is that until booster shots are given, kittens don't have full immunity to the diseases they're being vaccinated against. In reality, this isn't the case - one vaccine is adequate to protect your kitten against the diseases in question. As it turns out, your kitten's initial protective shield that it inherited from its mother is the reason why your kitten needs booster shots.

Maternal Immunity

When kittens are still inside their mother, their mother shares a blood supply with them, providing them with their own antibodies. These antibodies encompass everything the mother cat has encountered in her life that her immune system has defeated, in addition to anything she's been vaccinated against.

This maternal immunity protects the kitten after they're born, destroying any diseases that the kitten comes into contact with. However, it's not permanent - after a certain amount of time, the mother's antibodies die, and it's up to the kitten's immune system to replace them with new antibodies as they encounter viruses and diseases or are vaccinated.

While the maternal immunity can keep a kitten's life safe in infancy, it also makes vaccines ineffective. If the maternal antibodies recognize the virus in the vaccine, they'll destroy it, preventing the kitten's immune system from adapting to it itself.

Covering The Bases

To complicate matters further, the duration of maternal immunity differs from kitten to kitten. Simply waiting until the maximum duration of maternal immunity is over would be an effective way to vaccinate your kitten, but if their maternal immunity ends early, they won't have any defense against those illnesses should they encounter them.

Giving your kitten booster shots means that if the initial shot isn't effective due to the maternal immunity, a booster shot a few weeks later will be. There's no harm in giving the same vaccine twice even if your kitten's maternal immunity already ended by the first dose, so there's no need to worry.

Keeping kittens safe from viruses and diseases is a complicated matter, but an initial vaccine and a series of booster shots is the best way to make sure they're protected. If you have a new kitten, don't skip the booster shots, and if your cat has kittens on the way, ask a vet clinic like Cat Care Clinic if it's possible to get her vaccinated to protect her kittens.