June 16, 2021

Cat Vaccinations 101: Everything You Need to Know


Every cat parent wants their furry friend to be happy – and that requires being responsible when it comes to their health. But it can be overwhelming to know what vaccines your cat needs and when she needs them, so here we’ll share everything you need to know when it comes to vaccinating your kitty. 

Photo by Eric Han on Unsplash

Required cat vaccinations

The majority of cats need a few basic vaccines. In some cases, your cat may need more than the basic ones, such as when your cat is sick, is going to travel or is going to be around other cats that have contagious symptoms. Your vet is your best friend in these situations and is able to tell you exactly what your cat requires. 


Typically, cats need FVRCP (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia) vaccines and rabies shots. You’ll have to give your cat rabies vaccines once a year as well as an early shot at 14-16 months. Cats also need a one-year rabies booster. FVRCP includes vaccinations for a few different kinds of diseases, and it can treat medical problems like feline calicivirus, feline viral rhinotracheitis and feline panleukopenia. You’ll have to ensure your cat gets this vaccine four times in her first year and then once again when she reaches three years. FVRCP is known as the feline distemper shot, as it helps to protect against an extremely contagious and deadly disease caused by a virus, to which there is no cure for. 


What we have covered here are the core cat vaccines. There are others that you can give your cat, called non-core vaccines. In some instances, your cat will need vaccines for less common diseases like bronchiseptica, Bordetella, chlamydophila felis or leukemia virus. If you are not sure whether your cat needs one of these, then you should consult your veterinarian. 



How do you know if your cat needs extra shots?

If your cat spends a lot of time outside or around other cats, there is a good chance that he or she could benefit from some additional shots beyond the core ones. Cats that live in a heavily populated area or who live somewhere that there is a history of viral outbreaks will need additional shots too. Your vet can advise you as to which diseases are common in your area and then you can give your cat vaccines to protect against those. 


Are cat vaccinations safe?

You should be aware of the chance of complications and side effects that come with cat vaccinations. Your cat is probably going to be just fine after having a vaccine administered, but there could be some mild side effects. In some rare cases, your cat may have an allergic reaction to something in the vaccine. Your cat may also experience some mild symptoms associated with the disease being vaccinated against. 

If your cat isn’t well before the vaccine, he or she is slightly more likely to experience some sort of side effect. Some cats experience lethargy or loss of appetite after being administered vaccines. This is due to the way their immune system is having to do double duty, protecting them against the normal day-to-day attacks as well as the minor attack the vaccine is launching against their body. Your veterinarian needs to know about any major symptoms your cat is having or any adverse reactions before they administer the vaccine. 


Are there laws requiring cat vaccines?

Most states actually have laws requiring your cat to be vaccinated for certain diseases at a specific age. The age requirements may vary by state, but rabies is almost always required, and you should know what your state requires as far as vaccinations go for your cat. Most states require that your cat receive its first vaccination at three to six months of age. Your vet probably knows the local laws and can guide you as to when the best time would be to vaccinate your cat. If you adopt a cat, you will want to ensure that its vaccinations are all up to date. 


Vaccinations are not always required by law, but those two core vaccines are definitely recommended no matter where you live and what the laws are regarding vaccines. 


You want your cat to be safe

You love your cat and you want the very best for him or her. If you are wondering what kind of vaccines your cat needs and when your cat needs them, have a chat with your vet. Vaccines safeguard your cat and the other animals that they come into contact with with an array of diseases, many of which can lead to mortality. This ensures that your cat lives the longest and happiest life possible. 


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