Vaccinating Barn Cats

Vaccinating barn cats

Last month we vaccinated our barn cats, and I thought I’d write you a post on how easy it is to do yourself. I started vaccinating my animals myself when we moved to this property, I realized that taking them all to the vet was going to add up very quickly! It’s not hard, but I do always recommend having someone who has more experience than you show you how the first time. I always do that, even though I should theoretically know how to do all of this from my education. Hands-on-tips are always awesome! Vaccinating barn cats is really easy, here is what we did. 

Purchase the Vaccine

First, you’ll need to purchase vaccine. You can pick this up from your local tack and feed store. They will have a cooler near their animal health section with all kinds of refrigerated medications and vaccinations. I get the most comprehensive vaccine available, usually for cats it’s a three-way. That means there are three vaccinations in one injection. I also like to look up information on the brands available so I can better judge the quality. Sometimes it matters, sometimes it doesn’t, it just depends on what’s available. You’ll just need to tell one of the store employees you need to purchase vaccine and they will open the cabinet for you. Just be sure it isn’t going to be hours before you’re home, they do need to stay cold.

Prepare the Vaccine

When you’re ready to give the vaccination, be sure your cats are near and in sight. This may sound obvious, but mine leave frequently so it takes a little while to have all of them there at the same time. Just store the vaccine in your fridge if you need to wait.

The vaccine will come in two parts that you will need to mix together. One part is the diluent. This is just the liquid that you dissolve the actual vaccine in, it will be in the other bottle in powdered form. Here are the steps:

  1. Remove the syringe and needle from the case, and attach the needle if necessary {it will screw on}.
  2. Holding the diluent bottle upside down, insert the syringe and suck out the liquid. watch it in the bottle so you can move your needle accordingly and get all of it out.
  3. Insert the needle into the bottle that contains the powdered vaccine and dispense the liquid. The syringe will probably automatically do down because of the pressure difference. Try not to make a lot of bubbles.
  4. leaving the needle in the bottle, gently rotate the bottle back and forth a few times to make sure everything is mixed and dissolved. Again, try not to make a lot of bubbles.
  5. Holding the bottle upside down, remove all the mixed vaccine solution as you did when removing the diluent.
  6. Gently flick the syringe right below the needle to displace any air bubbles and then gently push the plunger up until the liquid just starts to come out the needle. Cap the needle and catch your cat! You’re ready to give the vaccine.

Step-by-step instructions so you can be confident vaccinating barn cats yourself. It's not hard, just a few things to keep in mind.

A few notes: If you do get a lot of bubbles {like you drop the bottle…that’s never happened to me…} just let the bottle sit in the fridge for a minute or two and they will calm down. Don’t let it sit mixed for too long though, you’ll want to give it soon after mixing. Also please cap your needle whenever you are not using it. Please. Pretty please. Stabs happen, believe me!

Administer the Vaccine

Giving the vaccine can either be really easy or really hard depending on your cat. Ours are pretty docile and don’t move around very much. I have Andy hold them {with gloves on} against his body with one hand securing their head and the other around their front paws. He tucks the rest of their body under his arm. Don’t smash them or be really rough, that will just make them nervous! He holds them firmly but not to the point they are tense or stressed.

The vaccine will most likely be administered subcutaneously, but read all the instructions for your particular vaccination. Subcutaneously {sub-q} means that you insert the needle in between the skin and the muscle. This is easy to do, don’t stress. Here’s how:

  1. With the cat secured, gently tent the skin below the neck or . It should be loose enough for this. I find it easiest if I’m at the side of the cat. I tent with my left hand and vaccinate with my right.
  2. Insert the needle into the tent of the skin. It doesn’t need to be all the way in, just make sure you go through the fur and are actually under the skin. A swift poke gets this job done. Don’t be slow – no one likes that!
  3. Dispense the vaccine and remove the needle. You will need to make sure you are keeping the needle as still as possible and not angling it at all or poking where you shouldn’t be.
  4. Rub the vaccination site for a minute. This will help get it moving and keep them from getting a sore spot. I’ve never had any issues.
  5. As always, please have someone who is more experienced than yourself do this with you the first time. This video is a good example of what I’m describing.

There you have it! Vaccinating barn cats is easier than you think and will save you one some vet bills.

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