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Cat Vaccination Schedule

Cat Vaccination Schedule

Ensuring our feline companions receive regular vaccinations is crucial, regardless of whether they are indoor cats or not. In this article, our veterinarians in Jackson delve into the significance of consistent vaccination schedules for kittens and cats alike.

Why are vaccines for cats important?

Numerous diseases and disorders that are specific to cats affect a significant number of felines throughout the United States annually. To safeguard your cat from contracting preventable yet severe conditions, it's crucial to initiate a routine vaccination schedule during their kitten years. During this period, your veterinarian will administer several core and lifestyle vaccines based on their professional advice. Your cat will also require booster shots regularly throughout their life.

Why should I vaccinate my indoor cat?

It is mandatory for cats to receive specific vaccinations in many states, even if they are indoor cats. For instance, in several states, cats over six months old must receive a rabies vaccination. Once your veterinarian administers the vaccinations, you will receive a certificate indicating that your cat has been vaccinated as required.

Vaccinating indoor cats is crucial as they can easily slip out unnoticed, and a brief outdoor excursion can expose them to contagious viruses. Vaccines are critical for safeguarding your pet's health if they visit a groomer or boarding facility while you are away from home. Illnesses can spread wherever other cats have been, so it is important to protect your indoor cat.

There are two types of vaccines available for pets, 'core vaccines' and 'lifestyle vaccines.' Our vets strongly advise administering core vaccinations to all cats, including indoor cats, to protect them from highly contagious diseases they could encounter.

What are core vaccines for cats?

It is crucial for all cats to receive core vaccinations to protect them from common and severe feline illnesses. These vaccinations are essential in safeguarding their health.

  • 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. Your vet may recommend this vaccine 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?

It is recommended that adult cats receive booster shots either annually or every three years, depending on the type of vaccine. Your veterinarian will inform you of the appropriate time to bring your cat in for their booster shot.

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

Your kitten will not be fully vaccinated until about two weeks after they receive all rounds of their vaccinations, which is usually around 12 to 16 weeks old. Once the initial vaccinations are completed, your furry friend will be protected against the diseases or conditions covered by the vaccines.

However, it's essential to keep in mind that vaccinations don't guarantee complete protection, just like in humans. While your cat may still get sick, vaccination increases the chances of them recovering better than if they had not been vaccinated.

Suppose you're planning to let your kitten roam outdoors before they receive all the required vaccinations. In that case, we recommend limiting them to low-risk areas such as your backyard, where you can carefully supervise them.

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 Jackson Animal Clinic today. 

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