No matter how tempting it is to skip your indoor cat's vaccinations, routine shots are still critical to their health. Here our Ypsilanti vets explain why they are important and when your cat should get their vaccines.
About Cat Vaccinations
There are a hand full of severe diseases that affect indoor cats every year, which is why it's important to protect your feline companion from these preventable illnesses. It is also crucial to keep up with your cat's booster shots after the first kitten vaccinations, to keep your indoor friend protected their whole lives.
Booster shots help protect your pet after the first round of kitten vaccines wear off, each booster and vaccine has a schedule of when they have to be given. Your vet will inform you of when it is time for your cat's booster shots.
Why You Should Vaccinate Your Indoor Cat
Even if you believe your indoor cat doesn't require vaccinations, many states have laws that make certain ones mandatory. As an example lots of states require that cats must be vaccinated against rabies when they are 6 months old, once your kitty get's this shot your veterinarian will give you a certificate stating your cat has the mandatory vaccinations.
There are 2 types of available vaccinations for pets which are 'lifestyle vaccines' and 'core vaccines'.
Veterinarians highly suggest that all pets even indoor cats get core vaccinations in order to keep them safe from highly contagious diseases incase they escape your home, stay at a boarding facility or go for a grooming, etc.
Core Vaccines for Cats
You should give your cat core vaccinations to protect them from the list of common, severe feline conditions listed below:
- Rabies - rabies kill lots of mammals every year, even humans. This vaccine is mandatory for cats in the majority of states.
- Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia (FVRCP) - Often called the “distemper” shot, this is a combination vaccine that guards cats from feline viral panleukopenia, rhinotracheitis and calicivirus.
- Feline herpesvirus type I (FHV, FHV-1) - This ubiquitous virus is highly contagious, and is a leading cause of upper respiratory infections and can infect cats for life. It spreads when food bowls and litter boxes are shared with other cats, through direct contact or by inhalation of sneeze droplets. Sometimes cats will shed this condition where persistent cases of FHV can create eye problems.
Lifestyle (Non-Core) Vaccines for Cats
Some cats require lifestyle/ non-core vaccinations based on their lifestyle and your vet will inform you of which ones your kitty should get. This type of vaccine protects against the following:
- Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia (Felv) - These vaccines usually are only recommended for cats that are outdoors often and protects them against viral infections which are contracted from close contact exposure.
- Bordetella - A highly contagious bacteria that causes upper respiratory infections. Your vet might suggest this this vaccine if you are taking your cat to a boarding kennel or groomer.
- Chlamydophila felis - This vaccination is often part of the distemper combination vaccine. It protects your cat from Chlamydia which is a bacterial infection that causes severe conjunctivitis.
Getting Your Kitten Their Shots
It is recommended that your kitten gets their first round of vaccinations when they are between six and eight weeks of age. Below is a series of vaccines your kitten should get in three to four week intervals til they are about 16 weeks old.
Kitten Vaccination Schedule
First visit (6 to 8 weeks)
- Fecal exam for parasites
- Blood test for feline leukemia
- Review nutrition and grooming
- Vaccinations for chlamydia, calicivirus, rhinotracheitis and panleukopenia
Second visit (12 weeks)
- First feline leukemia vaccine
- First feline leukemia vaccine
- Examination and external check for parasites
- Second vaccinations for calicivirus rhinotracheitis, and panleukopenia
Third visit (follow veterinarian’s advice)
- Second feline leukemia vaccine
- Rabies vaccine
Your adult cat should receive their booster shots every year or once every three years based on the type of vaccine. Your vet will inform you of your outdoor or indoor cat's vaccination (booster shot) schedule.
Your kitten will not be fully vaccinated until they are roughly 12 - 16 weeks old, which is when they receive all of their vaccinations. Once the initial vaccinations are given your kitty will be safe from the diseases and conditions that the vaccinations cover.
We suggest keeping your kitten in low-risk restricted areas like your backyard if you plan on letting them outside before they have been full vaccinated from the diseases mentioned above.
Potential Vaccine Side Effects
A large majority of cats wont experience side effects from their shots. If a reaction does happen, they tend to be minor and last only last a short period of time. However, in rare situations some serious reactions might occur such as:
- Loss of appetite
- Severe lethargy
- Redness or swelling around the injection site
If you believe your cat could be developing side effects from a vaccine contact your vet immediately! Your veterinarian will assist you in determining if your cat requires special care or a follow appointment.