Learning how to vaccinate a cat isn’t hard. You can pick up vaccine from your local feed store and with a few simple instructions, you’ll be able to do it yourself.
Note: this is not veterinary advice, always consult a veterinarian before doing any healthcare on your animals.
Last month we vaccinated our barn cats, and I thought I’d write you a post on how easy it is to do it yourself.
Learning how to vaccinate a cat isn’t 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 the best.
Purchase the Cat Vaccine
First, you’ll need to purchase a vaccine. You can pick this up at 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 the 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. This may sound obvious, but mine leaves 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, this is the actual vaccine.
Steps to Prepare a Cat Vaccine
- Remove the syringe and needle from the case, and attach the needle if necessary (it will screw on).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Holding the bottle upside down, remove all the mixed vaccine solution as you did when removing the diluent.
- 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 of the needle. Cap the needle and catch your cat! You’re ready to give the vaccine.
A few notes: If you do get a lot of bubbles (like you drop the bottle…yep, I’ve done that…) 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!
Administer the Cat 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-q0 means that you insert the needle in between the skin and the muscle. This is easy to do, don’t stress.
How to give a cat a subcutaneous injection:
- With the cat secured, gently tent the skin behind the neck, near the shoulder blades. 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. I am right-handed.
- 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!
- Dispense the vaccine at a firm, steady rate 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.
- Rub the vaccination site for a few seconds. This will help get it moving and keep them from getting a sore spot. I’ve never had any issues.
- 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.