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What Shots do Savannah Kittens Need?

Bringing a Savannah kitten home is a lot like bringing home a domestic kitten when it comes to vaccines. However, it is still vital to do your research and ensure you are well informed about what shots your Savannah kittens need.

Savannah kittens are given a variety of vaccines at different intervals. At around 8 weeks kittens will receive the following vaccines: feline leukemia virus, Bordetella, feline herpes virus, and calicivirus. At 16-18 weeks kittens will receive their rabies shot.

As a pet owner it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the vaccines your kitten needs and what they help prevent. So, this article will fill you in about the basics of which vaccines your Savannah kitten needs and why they are vital for its health.

What Vaccines Do Savannah Kittens Need?

For the first 16-18 weeks of your Savannah kitten’s life, they are usually nursing from their mother, which provides them with all of their necessary nutrients. This helps build their immune system and protect them from illness. However, it is also necessary to vaccinate against dangerous viruses and diseases.


Feline Leukemia (FeLV) virus is the second biggest killer of cats,with 85% of those infected likely to die. The virus will suppress the immune system making them susceptible to disease and lead to other issues such as anemia or lymphoma. Most cats will die within three years of their diagnosis, making it very important to vaccinate againstthis early on.

FeLV is easily passed from cat to cat through saliva, blood, and sometimes urine or feces. Most commonly when cats are playing together or even grooming themselves, they can transmit the virus. Even if you plan on only having one Savannah it is still important that they receive the FeLV vaccine from your breeder or vet. It is a single vaccination that will protect your kitten for life.    


Your Savannah, like other cats, will be highly susceptible to contracting the feline herpes virus, also known as rhinopneumonitis (FVR) and feline herpesvirus type one (FHV-1). Nearly all cats of any breed will encounter this virus at some point in their life andit is the leading cause of upper respiratory infections in cats.

The virus can cause a range of symptoms in your Savannah including conjunctivitis (pinkeye), congestion, excessive sneezing, eye lesions, drooling, lethargy, loss of appetite, and depression. These are all pressing reasons to have your kitten vaccinated from FVR and FHV-1, which is often given as one shot.


Calicivirus is another cause of upper respiratory infections in cats as well as oral infections. Unfortunately, cats both domestic and wild have been affected by this virus. Many cats will suffer from similar symptoms as the FRV and FHV-1 viruses, but some cats will also develop painful ulcers in their mouths, on their lips and nose. These ulcers can be very painful and cause drooling.  

Additionally, there is another strain that can be very misleading at first,beginning with the typical symptoms but rapidly starting to spiral into more serious symptoms, such as lameness of the limbs, fever, jaundice, and eventually organ failure. The death rate for this strain is around 65% for those infected. This is why the calicivirus vaccine is given to kittens, who are more vulnerable. 


The FHV-1, FRV, and Calicivirus vaccine are now also available as a three in one vaccine making it easier for veterinarians and breeders. Whether using the three in one or each individually, these vaccines will be administered twice within three weeks of each other. Once they have had the two doses your Savannah will be vaccinated for life.


Perhaps the most familiar vaccine will be the rabies vaccine used to protect your Savannah from the Rabies lyssavirus. A virus with a wide range of hosts including humans and their pets, itcan be irreversible if contracted. Most causes of rabies are through the bite of another animal causing their saliva to make contact with the victim’s blood.

The rabies vaccine is possibly one of the most important vaccines your kitten could receive as it will protect you both. If they were to contract the virus and become rabid it could possibly also infect you or other animals. Most veterinarians now offer a rabies vaccine that worksfor up to three years, at which point you will have to revaccinate. 

Information About Rabies Regarding Savannah Kittens

Many, but not all, states in the US have a mandatory law in place to have your pets vaccinated against rabies. This also extends to cats, especially exotic breeds like Savannahs, so your kitten will certainly need one even if it is just for legal purposes. If caught without a rabies vaccine, animal control could seize your Savannah.

It’s A Must

Even if you think it is not necessary to vaccinate your Savannah kitten because they will not be outside unsupervised or be in contact with other animals, it is always best to err on the side of caution. If you plan on taking your Savannah for walks, which it is recommended you do, you never know if you will have a run in with a rabid animal even as simple as a squirrel.

It is also important to note that if your Savannah ever has the chance to bite someone and breaks skin, that person may be legally allowed to pursue a rabies test. This is often done by euthanizing the animal guilty of biting and/or attacking followed by the removal of their head which will be tested for rabies. While extreme, this is a possibility to consider and it has happened in the past.  

Don’t Risk It

Not vaccinating your Savannah kitten is not worth the risk, especially when you know how the virus works. Rabies is a neurotropic virus and will affect the brain and spinal cord of any animal it infects. The death rate for rabies is nearly 100% and it is responsible for the death of millions of animals every year and as many as 50,000 humans in the US.

In order to contract the virus your Savannah would need to be bittenby aninfected animal, whichcould be the mouse that made its way inside your house unnoticed. After being bitten it can take as little as 10 days or a few months to develop noticeable symptoms. There are generally three stages of rabies including: prodromal, furious, and paralytic.


During the prodromal stage you will begin to notice a change in your Savannah’s behavior. Depending on your kitten’s personality behavior changes could seem positive, like a once shy Savannah becoming outgoing and sociable. Additionally, a normally outgoing Savannah may suddenly become reclusive or depressed.


The furious stage is the most recognizable sign of rabies including the infamous foaming at the mouth. As rabies begins to attack the nervous system it can cause your kitten to become more reactive and aggressive, experience seizures, and find it hard to swallow leading to drooling. This can be dangerous for both your kitten and you in the event they end up biting you during their confusion.


Finally, during the paralytic stage your infected Savannah would slip into a coma from the trauma to their nervous system. Unfortunately, those who reach this stage do not survive the virus and will eventually stop breathing. Once the first stage begins the virus acts so rapidly it is nearly impossible to stop, causing most to die by day 10 of showing symptoms. 

If you are purchasing a Savannah kitten from a reputable breeder it is very unlikely that they will not already be vaccinated. However, if you have bred your own Savannahs to produce a new kitten it is your responsibility to make sure they are vaccinated for rabies. This will ensure the safety of you, your kitten, and other animals they may come into contact with. 

Vaccines Savannah Kittens Don’t Need

There really are no normal vaccines that your kitten won’t need. If it is normally given to domestic cats and kittens it will be given to your Savannah. There aren’t any optional vaccines as the vaccines that veterinary scientists create are all meant for common life-threatening or easily contracted viruses.


The one exception would be Bordetella, which is a vaccine given by shooting the liquid up the nostrils. This vaccine protects against upper respiratory infections and is more often given to dogs. The reason for this is that the three in one vaccine mentioned earlier will vaccinate for anything that the Bordetella would have protected against.

Final Thoughts

So,remember when considering purchasing a Savannah kitten to do the proper research on your breeder to be sure they are vaccinating before giving them away. The vaccines you want to look out for are: FeLV, FRV, FHV-1, Calicivirus, and Rabies. These will protect your kitten from contracting any of these viruses which could potentially shorten or even end their life.