In order to ensure that your cat is fully protected from all potentially serious conditions and diseases, your cat should receive their vaccinations, even if they stay indoors. Our Fairhaven vets discuss everything that you should know about pet vaccinations for cats.
The Importance of Cat Vaccinations
Serious feline-specific diseases afflict vast numbers of cats across the US every year. In order to protect your cat from contracting a serious but preventable condition, it’s critical to begin having your four-legged friend vaccinated right from the time they are a kitten and continue with 'booster shots' on a regular basis throughout their lifetime.
As the name suggests, booster shots “boost” your cat’s protection against a variety of feline diseases after the effects of the initial vaccine wear off. Booster shots for cats are given on specific pet vaccination schedules. Your vet will advise you when to bring your cat back for their booster shots.
Should My Indoor Cat Recieve Vaccinations?
Though you may not think your indoor cat requires vaccinations, by law all cats must have certain vaccinations in many states. For example, many states require that cats over the age of 6 months be vaccinated against rabies. Once your cat has their shots your veterinarian will provide you with a certificate showing that your cat has been vaccinated as required.
Another important reason to have your indoor cat vaccinated is that indoor cats often manage to sneak out the door when their owner isn't looking. Just a quick sniff around your backyard could be enough for your feline friend to contract one of the very contagious viruses that cats are susceptible to.
If your indoor cat visits a groomer or spends time in a boarding facility while you are away from home, vaccines are very important for protecting your pet's health. 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 vets strongly recommend that all cats - both indoor cats and outdoor cats - receive core vaccinations to protect them against highly contagious diseases they could be exposed to.
What Are The Core Pet Vaccinations That My Cat Should Recieve?
Core vaccinations should be given to all cats, as they are essential for protecting them against the following common but serious feline conditions:
- Rabies - rabies kills many mammals (including humans) every year. These vaccinations are required by law for cats in most states.
- Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia (FVRCP) - Typically known 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, ubiquitous virus is one major cause of upper respiratory infections. Spread through sharing of litter trays or food bowls, inhalation of sneeze droplets or direct contact, the virus can infect cats for life. Some will continue to shed the virus, and persistent FHV infection can lead to eye problems.
What Are The Lifestyle Vaccinations That My Cat May Benefit From?
Non-core vaccinations are appropriate for some cats depending on their lifestyle. Your vet is in the best position to recommend which non-core vaccines your cat should have. Lifestyle vaccines protection against:
- Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia (Felv) - These vaccines protect against viral infections that are transmitted via close contact. They are only usually recommended for cats that spend time outdoors.
- Bordetella - This bacteria causes upper respiratory infections that are highly contagious. This vaccine may be recommended by your vet if you are taking your cat to a groomer or boarding kennel.
- Chlamydophila felis - Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that causes severe conjunctivitis. The vaccination for the infection is often included in the distemper combination vaccine.
What Is The Pet Vaccination Schedule That My Cat Should Follow?
Shots for kittens should begin when they reach about six to eight weeks old. Following this, your kitty should get a series of shots at three-to-four-week intervals until they reach approximately 16 weeks old.
Cat Vaccination Schedule
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 Will My Cat Need To Return For Their Next Pet Vaccinations?
Depending on the vaccination that your cat receives, adult cats should get booster pet vaccinations either annually or every three years. Your vet will tell you when to bring your adult cat back for booster shots.
Is the pet vaccination schedule for indoor cats different?
All cats whether indoor or outdoor will follow the same pet vaccination schedule. When it comes to the differences between vaccinating indoor cats vs outdoor cats it is really a question of which vaccinations are best suited to your cat's lifestyle. Your vet will advise you as to which pet vaccinations are recommended for your cat.
Will my cat be protected after their first set of pet vaccinations?
Until they have received all rounds of their pet vaccinations (when they are about 12 to 16 weeks old), you will need to continue to provide added protection for your cat. After all of their initial cat vaccinations have been completed, your kitten will be protected against the diseases or conditions covered by the vaccines.
If you plan to let your kitten outdoors before they have been fully vaccinated against all the diseases listed above, we recommend keeping them restricted to low-risk areas such as your own backyard.
Are there any side effects or risks of an adverse reaction with pet vaccinations?
While the odds of your cat having an adverse reaction to pet vaccinations is very low, there is still a risk. If your cat does have a reaction or side effects to the pet vaccinations they have received then they should be mild and pass quickly. If you note any of the symptoms of a more serious reaction to vaccinations then you should contact your Fairhaven vet as soon as possible. some of these more serious reactions include:
- Loss of appetite
- Redness or swelling around the injection site
- Severe lethargy
If your cat is showing the potential signs of a reaction to their pet vaccinations in Fairhaven contact our vets immediately.
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.