Whether you have a kitten or an adult cat, it should go without saying that vaccines are essential for your pet’s health and your safety. However, a trip to the clinic is often a traumatizing experience for most cats. And a visit to the vet can be doubly scary for a feline if injections are added to the equation.
But is it possible for vaccines to alter a cat’s personality?
Can your cat’s personality change after a vaccination?
Vaccination can and do affect a cat’s behavior. But usually, these behavioral changes are temporary in nature. After a few days, you can expect your pet to revert to his true personality. Your pet can temporarily change his usual behavior after getting vaccines either because he is experiencing side effects or if he was traumatized by the visit to the clinic.
Among the behavioral changes that you can see in your cat are lethargy, aggression, and fear.
After vaccination, it is normal for your pet to exhibit a few symptoms like fever, lameness, swelling, and redness in the injection site, appetite loss, and even lethargy and general malaise.
These are perfectly normal although it can be disconcerting to see your happy cat lack his usual vigor.
However, you do not have to worry much about your cat. It only means that your cat is experiencing these symptoms due to the interaction between his body and the vaccine. The same thing can happen to people. After getting injected with a vaccine, you may also experience the same symptoms. This is because the immune system has started reacting to the vaccine.
Typically, these symptoms, including lethargy and lack of appetite, vanish after two to three days. However, it is a good idea to monitor your cat from time to time to ensure that he does not have an adverse reaction to the vaccine.
Sometimes, a cat can become aggressive to their humans and other pets in the household after vaccination or even after a visit to the vet for other purposes.
Again, this is normal behavior. You have to consider the fact that visiting the vet often entails a lot of things that can be scary for your pet, including getting handled by the clinic staff. And when you consider the pain of an injection, you will better understand why your cat may not interact with people and other cats like he usually does.
In other cases, the cat that was recently vaccinated becomes the victim of aggression by the other feline members of your home. This can even happen to cats that have bonded quite well.
After coming home, your cats may seem like total strangers. This is because the cat that came from the vet smells differently that the other cat can no longer recognize the first cat’s scent.
You have to understand that cats that share a home pass each other’s scent to one another. This allows them to identify one another.
To prevent aggression between your cats after a visit to the vet, it is a good idea to isolate the vaccinated cat. This will give the feline enough time to groom and make himself smell familiar to the other cats. This usually takes a day.
You can also use a towel to extract the scent of the other cats and then rub that towel on the cat that visited the vet. This will give the other cats something familiar to smell in the recently vaccinated pet.
Better yet, schedule routine visits to the clinic so that you can bring your cats together. This will help minimize aggression because they will be both familiar with the scents in the clinic.
3. Fear and anxiety
Although today’s veterinarians are working hard to make a pet’s experience at a clinic less stressful, a visit to the clinic can still be scary for your cat, with all the unfamiliar faces, objects, and scents that he will encounter inside.
Fearful cats will often display anxiety or even aggression even before the trip to the vet. Others will continue showing fear and anxiety after coming home. Some cats even exhibit lingering fear and anxiety days after coming from the vet.
As a cat owner, you need to be aware of your pet’s fear at the clinic. This can manifest in the form of aggression or clinginess. At the vet, do your best to soothe your pet and put minimal restraint on him. It can also be helpful to provide him with his favorite treats.
Ultimately, cat owners should work with their veterinarians to limit the stress associated with visiting a clinic.
Cat vaccination aftercare
After vaccination, some cats will go back to their routines as if nothing happened to them. But some cats will behave differently.
If your cat belongs to the second camp, there are a few things that you can do to make him feel better while recovering.
- Before going to the vet, it is a good idea to prepare a warm and cozy place for your cat. Designate this as his recovery area where he can rest without being disturbed by the other members of the household.
- Make sure that food and water are readily available to him. However, be aware that your cat’s appetite may not be normal during this period.
- It might be tempting to sit beside your pet to give him comfort. However, your pet may want to be alone during this period. He also might not want to be touched. Just leave him alone. When he returns to his normal self, he will come to you.
- From time to time, check on your cat. Some cats are allergic to vaccines. Watch out for symptoms like diarrhea, collapse, and breathing difficulties.
Understanding your cat’s personality change after vaccination
A trip to the vet for vaccination is never a pleasant experience for your cat. However, vaccination is essential for his health and your family’s safety. Understand that your cat is still in recovery and that he may not be his usual self. Provide for his needs and keep some distance. After a couple of days, he will bounce back to his normal self.
Image: istockphoto.com / Dina Damotseva