Although it may not seem important, vaccinating your cat, whether indoor or outdoor is crucial. Our Perry vets explain the importance of vaccines and keeping your cat on a vaccination schedule.
Why are vaccines for cats important?
Without vaccinations, your cat could contract any number of serious diseases and conditions that affect a large portion of cats in the US each year. It is important to ensure that your cat is vaccinated from the very beginning as a kitten all throughout its life with regular booster shots.
These regular booster shots ensure your cat’s protection against a variety of diseases as time passes after their initial vaccination. Your vet will administer booster shots on a specific schedule that they have recommended based on your pet's unique needs.
Why should I vaccinate my indoor cat?
In most places, it is required by law to have your cat fully vaccinated regardless of whether it is an indoor or an outdoor cat. Your cat should receive their first vaccines as a kitten and once your veterinarian has completed the vaccinations they will provide you with a certificate showing that your cat has been vaccinated as required.
Vaccinations are also a good idea as cats are quick creatures and there is a chance that they could find their way out of the house when you aren't looking. Vaccinations will help to protect your cat against various diseases should they ever escape.
Another reason why vaccinations are a good idea is to help keep your cat safe from contracting viruses or diseases when in any setting with other pets, such as boarding facilities and the groomers. Wherever other cats have been, there is a chance of spreading viruses - make sure that your indoor cat is protected.
There are 2 types of vaccinations that are available for pets, 'core vaccines' and 'lifestyle vaccines'. Our Perry vets highly recommend that your cat receives all necessary core vaccines on a consistent schedule.
What are core vaccines for cats?
Core vaccinations are recommended for all cats in order to help them live a long and healthy life, safe from contracting serious viruses and diseases.
- Rabies - rabies is typically fatal once symptoms begin to show and vaccinations are required by law for cats in most states.
- Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia (FVRCP) - Also referred to as the "distemper" shot, this combination vaccine protects against feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia.
- Feline herpesvirus type I (FHV, FHV-1) - This highly contagious virus is a major cause of upper respiratory infections in cats. This virus infects cats for life and is spread through direct contact.
What are lifestyle (non-core) cat vaccines?
Lifestyle vaccinations might not be recommended for all cats. Your vet will suggest which vaccines your cat should receive.
- Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia (Felv) - These vaccines are typically suggested for cats that spend time outdoors and protect against viral infections that spread through close contact.
- Bordetella - This bacteria causes upper respiratory infections that are highly contagious and is usually found in settings where many animals are present such as boarding facilities.
- Chlamydophila felis - Chlamydia is a bacterial infection and is known to cause severe conjunctivitis. The vaccination can be included in the distemper combination vaccine.
When should my kitten get their shots?
Your kitten should receive its first vaccinations around 6 to 8 weeks old. Then going forward your kitten may continue receiving booster shots every three to four weeks until they reach approximately 16 weeks old.
First visit (6 to 8 weeks)
- Review nutrition and grooming
- Blood test for feline leukemia
- Fecal exam for parasites
- Vaccinations for chlamydia, calicivirus, rhinotracheitis and panleukopenia
Second visit (12 weeks)
- Examination and external check for parasites
- First feline leukemia vaccine
- Second vaccinations for calicivirus rhinotracheitis, and panleukopenia
- First feline leukemia vaccine
Third visit (follow veterinarian’s advice)
- Rabies vaccine
- Second feline leukemia vaccine
When should my cat get 'booster' shots?
The schedule for adult cat vaccines varies depending on the type of vaccine it receives. Your vet will be able to tell you when to schedule your cat's booster shots.
Is there an indoor cat vaccination schedule?
The recommended vaccine schedule for the core vaccines is the same for all cats. When it comes to the lifestyle vaccines it will depend on your cat and whether it is an indoor cat or an outdoor cat and its own specific needs. Your vet will advise you as to which vaccines your cat should have.
Is my cat protected as soon as they get their shots?
Your cat is not considered fully vaccinated until they have received all their initial vaccines around 12 to 16 weeks old. Once your cat has reached this point it will be considered protected from the viruses and diseases for which the vaccines were developed for.
It is not recommended to allow your cat outside until they are fully vaccinated but if you must then be sure to keep them in a safe and enclosed area such as your backyard.
Will my cat experience side effects after getting vaccinated?
Side effects are very uncommon with cat vaccinations. Some symptoms that you may notice are:
- Loss of appetite
- Redness or swelling around the injection site
- Severe lethargy
If you notice any side effects after your cat has received vaccinations you should call your vet to discuss the symptoms.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.