Cat Vaccines: Why they need them and what you need to know

Cat Vaccines: Why they need them and what you need to know

Vaccinations are key in keeping our feline friends healthy all throughout their lifetime. 

In order to protect your kitten from contracting a number of serious feline-specific health issues and diseases throughout their life, it's critical that you have them vaccinated. After your cat has gone through their first round of vaccinations, it's just as important that you follow up regularly with routinely scheduled booster shots throughout its life to maintain its immunity to dangerous health conditions.

Booster shots 'boost' your cat's protection against a range of feline diseases as the effectiveness of the initial vaccine wears off. Booster shots for different vaccines are given on varying schedules. Your vet will let you know when to bring your cat back their booster shots.

Cat Vaccines

Vaccinations for cats fall into two basic types.

Core vaccinations are those vaccines that are recommended for all cats. These vaccinations are considered to be vital to protecting your feline friend from the following conditions and diseases (and some are required by law in many states):

  • Panleukopenia (feline distemper)
  • Feline calicivirus (FCV)
  • Feline herpesvirus type I (FHV, FHV-1)
  • Rabies

Non-core vaccinations are vaccinations that are suitable for some cats, depending on their lifestyle. Your vet will be able to advise you about what non-core of "lifestyle" vaccinations are best to give to your cet. Some examples of health conditions protected against by non-core vaccinations include:

  • Feline leukemia virus (FeLV)
  • Bordetella
  • Chlamydophila felis
  • Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)

When should my kitten get their first shots?

By the age of six to eight weeks, your kitten should be seeing your veterinarian for their first round of vaccinations. After that, your kitten should receive a series of vaccinations in three or four-week intervals up until they are around 16 weeks old.

When should I bring my cat back to the vet for booster shots?

Adult cats should receive booster shots either yearly or every three years depending on the vaccine. Your vet will advise you on when you bring your adult cat back for booster shots.

Will my kitten be protected after the first round of shots?

Your kitten is not completely vaccinated until after they have received the last of their injections, by about twelve to sixteen weeks old. Once your cat has received all of these initial vaccinations, it will be protected against diseases covered by the specific vaccines they have had administered.

If you want to allow your kitten outdoors before they have received all of their vaccines, it is a good idea to keep them confined to low-risk areas such as your own backyard.

Do I need to get my indoor cat vaccinated?

You may think that since they don't leave the house your indoor cat doesn't need to be vaccinated. Many states actually require that any cats over the age of 6 months be vaccinated against rabies at the very least. When you have your cat vaccinated against any state-required diseases they will provide you with a certificate as proof of your cat's vaccination.

When it comes to your cat's health it's always better to err on the side of caution. Cats can be curious creatures. Our vets recommend that indoor cats receive all of the core vaccinations to protect against diseases they may be exposed to if they manage to escape the safety of their home.

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