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Cat Vaccination Schedule

Cat Vaccination Schedule

It is crucial to vaccinate our pet cats regularly, even if they mostly stay indoors. Our veterinarians at Clarksville explain the significance of routine vaccinations, as well as vaccination schedules for kittens and adult cats.

Why are vaccines for cats important?

Numerous feline-specific ailments and conditions impact a significant population of cats in the US annually. To safeguard your feline from contracting a variety of serious yet avoidable diseases, it is crucial to initiate a regular vaccination regimen during their kitten stage.

While your cat is still young, they will receive several core and lifestyle vaccines as per your veterinarian's advice and will continue to receive booster shots periodically throughout their life.

Why should I vaccinate my indoor cat?

It may surprise you, but even indoor cats are required to receive certain vaccinations by law in many states. For instance, most states mandate that cats above 6 months old get vaccinated against rabies. Once your cat has completed its vaccinations, your veterinarian will issue you a certificate to prove it.

Another crucial factor to consider is that indoor cats often escape unnoticed through open doors. A short exploration in the backyard could be enough for your feline friend to contract a contagious virus. 

Vaccines become even more critical for your pet's well-being if your indoor cat ever visits a groomer or stays in a boarding facility while you're away. With other cats around, there's always a risk of disease transmission - so ensure that your indoor cat is safeguarded.

There are two types of vaccines for pets: "core vaccines" and "lifestyle vaccines." Our veterinarians highly recommend that all indoor and outdoor cats receive core vaccinations to protect them from highly infectious diseases they may encounter.

What are core vaccines 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 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 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 lead to eye problems.

What are lifestyle (non-core) cat vaccines?

Non-core vaccinations are appropriate for some cats depending on their lifestyle. Your vet is in the best position to recommend which non-core vaccines your cat should have. Lifestyle vaccines 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.
  • Bordetella - This bacteria causes upper respiratory infections that are highly contagious. This vaccine may be recommended by your vet if you take your cat to a groomer or boarding kennel.
  • Chlamydophila felis - Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that causes severe conjunctivitis. The vaccination for this infection is often included in the distemper combination vaccine.

When should my kitten get their shots?

Shots for kittens should begin when they reach about six to eight weeks old. Following this, your kitty should get a series of shots at three-to-four-week intervals until they reach approximately sixteen weeks old. A typical vaccination schedule might look something like this:

Kitten Vaccination Schedule

6 to 8 weeks

  • Rhinotracheitis, Calcivirus, Panleukopenia, Chlamydia

10 to 12 weeks 

  • Booster: Rhinotracheitis, Calcivirus, Panleukopenia, Chlamydia
  • Feline Leukemia

14 to 16 weeks 

  • Rabies
  • Booster: Rhinotracheitis, Calcivirus, Panleukopenia, Chlamydia
  • Feline Leukemia 2

When should my adult cat get booster shots?

Your adult cat's booster shots should be administered annually or every three years depending on the type of vaccine. Your veterinarian will inform you of the appropriate time to schedule the booster shot for your feline companion.

Is my cat protected as soon as they get their shots?

Your kitten will only be fully vaccinated about two weeks after receiving all rounds of their vaccinations, usually when they reach 12 to 16 weeks old. Once all initial vaccinations are completed, your kitty will be protected from the diseases or conditions covered by the vaccines. It's important to remember that vaccines do not provide 100% protection, just like human vaccination.

Although it's still possible for your cat to get sick, being vaccinated increases their chance of recovering. If you plan to let your kitten go outside before they are fully vaccinated against all listed diseases, we recommend restricting them to low-risk areas like your own backyard under careful supervision.

Will my cat experience side effects after getting vaccinated?

The vast majority of cats will not experience any side effects as a result of getting their shots. If reactions do occur, they are usually mild and may include tiredness, a temporary lack of appetite, and minor swelling at the injection site. In rare cases, more serious reactions can occur. If your cat experiences any of the following after being vaccinated you should contact your vet or bring them to the nearest pet emergency hospital to be examined:

  • Lameness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite that persists for more than 24 hours
  • Redness or swelling around the injection site that worsens or doesn't go away
  • Hives
  • Severe lethargy
  • Fever

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.

Is it time for your cat or kitten's vaccinations? Book an appointment at Sango Veterinary Hospital today. 

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