Listless, Sleepy Behavior Following Cat Vaccinations

by Phyllis
(Stuart, VA)


Juno--approximately 9 months old--appeared at our door step while we were away for the 4th of July. We fell in love with her and she is now living in the house with us!!

Yesterday she had the RHINO/CAL/DIST/CHLAM VACCINE AND the ANNUAL FELINE LEUKEMIA VACCINE. Is it possible that these vaccines could have caused her to be lifeless and sleepy? She is not playful like usual and has slept an unusual amount since the visit to the vet.
Thanks for your help.

Dear Phyllis:

Yes, I'm sorry if they didn't tell you to expect a reaction such as that. It is not uncommon at all that kittens/cats are lethargic and lose their appetite after vaccinations. This is similar to human babies who often are cranky, lethargic, and even feverish after vaccines.

This type of reaction occurs to some degree almost every time a cat gets vaccinated. It usually goes away in 24 to 36 hours so by the time you're reading this, she should be fine. If not, you should call your vet.

Very rarely do more serious reactions occur. Swelling of the face, difficulty breathing, repeated vomiting ... these are some of the rare reactions that should make a pet owner seek immediate veterinary help.

If your kitty's reaction turns out to be longer or more severe than normal, you may want to talk to your veterinarian about separating the vaccines next time. I frequently do that with my feline patients. I have found that if only one vaccine is given at a time, there tends to be less of a reaction. Some pet parents are reluctant to do this due to the need for an additional trip back to the vet's office. I understand that, but if it is in the cat's best interests from a health standpoint, I think it is important to do.

I personally do not charge extra for having the 2 visits instead of one so that finances will not be a factor in this decision. You should talk to your vet, of course, about their payment policy if there are two visits instead of one if finances are a concern.

Best Wishes,
Dr. Neely


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