Vet Blog

All About Cat Vaccines

May 10, 2021

Disease prevention is a major concern for pet owners, but it can be a little confusing at times.

Many health threats are a bit ambiguous, especially if a cat lives an indoor-only existence. Cat vaccines may seem like they aren't necessary or important to many cats with limited potential exposure. The truth is, routine vaccinations play a critical role in disease prevention and maintaining lifelong health.

A Strong Foundation

A new kitten must be protected from contracting a variety of dangerous, feline-specific illnesses. Typically, they will receive all the necessary shots by 12-16 weeks old, starting around 6-8 weeks of age. Until then, they are not considered fully vaccinated and should be safeguarded from possible encounters with infected animals or contaminated environments.

Once they receive all of the required cat vaccines, they should be scheduled for routine boosters throughout their lifetime. Without these regular boosters given annually or every 3 years, they aren't fully protected.

Breaking It Down

Cat vaccines can be broken down into two categories.

Core vaccinations are considered necessary for all cats in order to protect them from the following common diseases:

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

Non-core cat vaccines are more lifestyle-based, and prevent the following disease that faces many cats that freely roam or face other animals in their own backyards:

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

Cat Vaccines and Lifestyle

A predominant myth is that indoor-only cats don't need their core cat vaccines. If they never go outside, have few chances of encounters with unfamiliar animals, and are unlikely to be boarded in an owner's absence, it's easy to assume they'll be just fine without regular vaccinations.

The truth is, many states require cats over the age of 6 months to be vaccinated against rabies. A certificate of vaccination should be kept with all of your cat's other medical records. Highly contagious and 100% fatal, rabies must always be guarded against.

Additionally, when it comes to your cat's overall health and longevity, it's always best to give them their best chance against terrible illnesses. You never know if/when your cat will escape or enter into situations that potentially expose them to disease.

All the Best

Pet cats that enjoy the best of both worlds may not always be at risk for altercations with other animals and their disease, but they are still vulnerable. Similarly, most cat owners adhere to a strict parasite prevention schedule to protect against heartworm disease, fleas (and all their ills), and ticks. In this way, parasite prevention and cat vaccines go hand-in-hand as your cat's best defense.

Having the Right Information

In order to help your cat through the experience of initial vaccinations or subsequent boosters, it's important to know that there could be side effects. While the benefits of cat vaccines outweigh any risks, it's important to:

  • Watch the injection site carefully
  • Make a note of any lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, or mobility issues
  • Please let us know if your cat needs help following their vaccinations

Highway Veterinary Hospital is always here for you. Call us at (301) 249-2005 to learn more or to schedule an appointment.

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