Protecting your cat against deadly diseases is a crucial part of caring for your feline friend. Our Nashua vets offer some information about indoor cat vaccines and how they help to keep your kitty safe.
What are cat vaccines?
In order to help protect your cat against a variety of potentially life-threatening conditions, it’s critical to have them vaccinated. It’s equally imperative to follow up your kitten’s first vaccinations with regular booster shots during their lifetime, even if you expect Fluffy to be an indoor companion.
The aptly named booster shots “boost” your cat’s protection against a variety of feline diseases after the effects of the initial vaccine wear off. There are booster shots for different vaccines given on specific schedules. Your vet can provide advice on when you should bring your cat back for more booster shots.
Why should I schedule cat shots for my indoor kitty?
Though you may not think your indoor cat requires vaccinations, by law cats must have certain vaccinations in many states. For example, the common law requires cats over the age of 6 months to be vaccinated against rabies. In return for the vaccinations, your veterinarian will provide you with a vaccination certificate, which should be stored in a safe place.
When considering your cat’s health, it’s always prudent to be cautious, as cats are often curious by nature. Our vets recommend core vaccinations for indoor cats to protect them against diseases they could be exposed to if they happen to escape the safety of your home.
There are two basic types of vaccinations for cats.
Core vaccinations should be given to all cats, as they are essential for protecting them against the following common but serious feline conditions:
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 the 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 cause eye problems.
Non-core vaccinations are appropriate for some cats depending on their lifestyle. Your vet will provide advice about which non-core vaccines your cat should have. These offer 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.
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.
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that causes severe conjunctivitis. The vaccination for the infection is often included in the distemper combination vaccine.
When should I schedule shots for kittens?
Once your kitten is 8 weeks old they should visit the vet for their first round of vaccines. Following this, your kitten should get a series of vaccines at three-to-four-week intervals until they reach approximately 16 weeks old.
Indoor Cat Vaccine 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 kitten need booster shots?
Depending on the vaccine, adult cats should get booster shots either annually or every three years. Your vet will let you know what the vaccine schedule for your cat should look like.
Does the first round of vaccines protect my kitten?
Your kitten will be completely vaccinated and protected once they have received all of their vaccines. This usually is done by the time they are 16 weeks old. Once all of their initial vaccinations have been completed, your kitten will be protected against the diseases or conditions covered by the vaccines.
If you’d like to allow your kitten outdoors before they have been vaccinated against all the diseases listed above, we recommend keeping them restricted to low-risk areas, like your own backyard.
Are there any side effects to cat vaccines?
Generally, cat vaccinations are safe for our feline friends. If reactions do occur, they are usually minor and short in duration.
Some of the reactions to cat shots are:
- Loss of appetite
- Redness of swelling around the injection site
- Severe lethargy
If you are concerned that your cat is having a reaction to a cat vaccine you should contact your vet right away. They can help you determine any special care or follow-up that may be required.
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.