Ask a vet 24/7: Kitten in Heat & Why Yearly Vaccines?

Dr. Laci Schaible

Have you ever gotten home after a vet visit and realized you forget to ask them something important about the discharge instructions or home care? Of course, this scenario typically happens after the vet hospital is closed and lines of communication are severed.

Below are real questions asked of VetLIVE veterinarians! Hopefully, the answers can help you in an emergency.

Kitten in Heat

Question: “My 5-month-old kitten just went into heat last night. I have not had her spayed yet because she is less than 5 pounds. She started spraying and I can't get her spayed for a week and a half because my vet is booked. What can I do about the spraying in the house (multiple locations) in the meantime? ”


The good news is that the period of heat will only last 3 to 4 days on average. I recommend you wait it out because you want to wait to have the spay done for 1.5 weeks because the vessels in the uterus will be engorged and it is safer to do it after the heat is over.

In the meantime, I recommend you keep her in a bathroom or a small room that does not have carpet. I would also clean the litter box often to prevent her from spraying outside the box. Putting a cover on the litter box may decrease the clean up associated with spraying. If you choose a bathroom, put the litter box in the tub so clean up is further mitigated.

If she is anxious, you may want to buy her a Feliway plug-in for that room that contains pheromones that are calming.

They will try to escape, so be careful when opening the doors. Be sure that all windows are closed and doors are closed.

Other ways to calm your cat will be the following:

- Toys - Help keep the cat busy. Cats in heat appear to have extra energy that can be assuaged with playful distractions. Provide your cat with new toys, preferably ones that will inspire her to jump toward or run after them.
- Extra time and attention (petting, brushing, and cuddling)

I hope this helps. I am sorry there is no magic solution but with time, attention, and prevention from escape, the spay will permanently keep this from happening again.

Have a great day and I wish you the best with Annabelle.

Why Annual Vaccines?

Question: "I have 2 chihuahuas. For some odd reason I take the male chi. (age 6) to a male vet and the female chi. (age 4) to the female vet. Both vets are in different cities. They both insist on giving my dogs DHPP, Bordetella vaccines every year. I understand the necessity of rabies shots every 3 years, but I am questioning annual vaccines. Isn't there a point where dogs have immunity for life (like people). I don't get vaccines every year, so why would my dogs? Thank you!"


First off let me say what a great pet parent you are! Most pet parents don't even think about vaccines or vaccine schedules so congrats-- you in the far minority!

About your question...there has been a lot of talk lately about vaccines and why we still give them annually. The majority of vets now do support giving the DHPP vaccine every three years. Bordetella is an optional vaccine, though it is a pretty benign one that rarely causes any trouble or reactions. If your dogs get boarded, go to the dog park, etc. then I think it is a good idea.

As far as the DHPP vaccine, I have used the three-year vaccine for years now and have never had a problem with a break in its efficacy. I would ask your veterinarians to find out if he/she carry the three year vaccine. It is well-proven and really isn't a new trend anymore. Even vaccine clinics (which I don't recommend, as they skip the physical exam and it is more of a factory line than a doctor's appointment) carry the three year vaccine. I simply mean to stress that most vets do now offer the three year vaccine. Your vets may have a particular reason for their one-year vaccine preference so I would ask. They may have a specific reason based upon your geographic region. Also let them know your preference if they have no medical reason. If no clients ask for a three-year vaccine, vets will certainly not switch and offer them.

We don't know if dogs eventually get immunity for life, but you can certainly find out if your dogs have immunity via a test called a titer test. This is by far superior to even vaccinating every three years. It is more expensive than a vaccine, but if cost is no object, I would go this route. It is a blood test that measures your pet's immunologic "memory response" to the diseases in a vaccine. If they are protected, there is no reason to vaccinate. All vets offer this, but it honestly is (sadly) exhausting to talk about because it is expensive. Though it is best for the pets, many clients would just view this as an expensive gimmick, so we quickly stop trying to educate clients on this. I've never had more than a handful of clients prefer this route, so try to understand why your vet hasn't discussed it. Most people are not interested in it at all and think you are only out to make a buck, which discourages vets from mentioning it in the future.

Hope this information is helpful!

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