In this blog, our veterinarians in Murfreesboro talk about cat vaccinations and why it's important to vaccinate your indoor cat.
What Are Cat Vaccinations?
Many cats can get sick from certain cat-specific diseases. To protect your kitten, it's crucial to get them vaccinated. Even if your cat stays indoors, they still need booster shots to stay safe. It's just as essential to follow your kitten's first vaccinations up with regular booster shots throughout their life, even if you plan on them being an indoor cat.
Why Should I Vaccinate My Indoor Cat?
Even if you don't think your indoor cat needs vaccines, many states require certain vaccinations by law. For instance, in several states, it's mandatory for cats over 6 months to be vaccinated against rabies. In return for the vaccinations, your veterinarian will give you a vaccination certificate that should be kept in a safe place.
When thinking about your cat's health, it's wise to be cautious, as cats are naturally curious creatures. Our veterinarian recommends core vaccinations for indoor cats to shield them from diseases they might encounter if they ever venture outside.
There are two basic types of vaccinations available for cats.
Core vaccinations should be given to all cats because they are key for protecting them from 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 recommended for some cats based on their lifestyle. Your vet will offer you advice on which non-core vaccines your cat should get. These can protect your cat from:
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. Your vet may recommend this vaccine 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 My Kitten Get Their First Shots?
Take your kitten to the vet for their first vaccinations when they're around 6-8 weeks old. After that, keep bringing them back every 3-4 weeks until they're about 16 weeks old for more shots.
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)
- Examination and external check for parasites
- First feline leukemia vaccine
- Second vaccinations for calicivirus rhinotracheitis and panleukopenia
Third visit (follow veterinarian's advice)
- The second feline leukemia vaccine
- Rabies vaccine
When Will My Cat Require Booster Shots?
Adult cats need booster shots, which can be either yearly or every three years, depending on the type of vaccine. Your vet will let you know when to schedule these shots for your cat.
Will My Kitten be Protected After Their First Round of Shots?
Your kitten needs several vaccinations to be fully protected, usually around 12 to 16 weeks old. Once their initial vaccinations have been completed, your kitty will be protected from the conditions or diseases that the vaccines cover.
If you want to let your kitten outside before they finish their hots, stick to safer places like your own backyard.
Are There Potential Side Effects of Cat Vaccinations?
Most cats won't display any side effects after getting their vaccines. If your kitty does develop a reaction, they are typically short in duration and minor. But keep in mind these potential negative side effects:
- Loss of appetite
- Redness or swelling around the injection site
- Severe lethargy
If you suspect your cat is reacting badly to a vaccine, contact your vet immediately. They can check if your kitty needs extra care.