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Cat Vaccination Schedule

Preventive care is vital to the lifelong health of your cat. This includes routine vaccines to protect against serious diseases. Our Kingman vets discuss the purpose of vaccines for adult cats and kittens and share a vaccination schedule for indoor cats and kittens.

Why is preventive care so important for adult cats and kittens?

Many types of illnesses and diseases that affect cats are highly contagious. To help protect them against these conditions, you should have them vaccinated starting when they are just a few weeks old and continuing with 'booster shots' regularly throughout their lifetime.

As the name implies, booster shots help to increase or 'boost' the immunity that the vaccine provides as it can decrease over time. Booster shots for cats are given on specific schedules. Your vet will provide you with an indoor cat and kitten vaccination schedule suitable to your cat's needs and local requirements.

Do you need to vaccinate your indoor cat?

As mentioned above, local laws may require you to ensure that your cat is vaccinated against certain conditions even if they are strictly indoors. For example, most states require that cats over the age of 6 months be vaccinated against rabies. Once your cat has their shots your veterinarian will provide you with a certificate showing that your cat has been vaccinated as required.

It's also a good idea to have your cat vaccinated as they may slip out when you aren't looking and it's better to be safe than sorry. A quick sniff around your yard could expose your cat to one of the highly contagious viruses that cats are susceptible to.

If your indoor cat visits a groomer or spends time in a boarding facility while you are away from home, vaccinations are very important for protecting your pet's health. Wherever other cats have been, there is a chance of spreading viruses - make sure that your indoor cat is protected.

What are the different types of cat vaccinations?

There are two types of vaccinations available for cats, 'core vaccines' and 'lifestyle vaccines'. Our Kingman vets strongly recommend that all cats - both indoor cats and outdoor cats - receive core vaccinations to protect them against highly contagious diseases they could be exposed to.

Core Vaccinations for Cats

The core vaccinations are provided on a standard cat vaccination schedule and recommended for all cats to protect them against common and highly contagious diseases including:

  • Panleukopenia (feline distemper) - FP is an extremely serious, highly contagious viral disease caused by the feline parvovirus. The feline parvovirus infects and kills cells that are rapidly growing and dividing, including cells in bone marrow, the intestines, or a developing fetus. The virus is spread through urine, stool, and nasal secretions. Infection occurs when susceptible cats come in contact with these secretions, or fleas from infected an infected cat. Although infected cats are contagious for only a day or two, the virus can survive for up to a year in the environment, so cats can become infected without ever coming into direct contact with an infected cat.
  • Feline calicivirus (FCV) - This virus spreads through direct contact with infected cats' saliva, nasal mucus, and eye discharge, as well as aerosol droplets spread when an infected cat sneezes. Feline calicivirus is a highly contagious virus that infects cats and causes mild to severe respiratory infections, eye irritation, and oral disease.
  • Feline herpesvirus type I (FHV, FHV-1) - This highly contagious and widespread virus is a leading cause of upper respiratory infections. The virus can infect cats for life if it is spread through the sharing of litter trays or food bowls, inhalation of sneeze droplets, or direct contact. Some will continue to shed the virus, and long-term FHV infection can cause vision problems.
  • Rabies - Rabies kills many mammals (including humans) every year. These vaccinations are required by law for cats in most states

Lifestyle Vaccinations for Cats

Lifestyle vaccines or non-core vaccines are suitable for some cats, based on their lifestyle. Your vet will advise you as to which non-core vaccines are recommended for your cat. Non-core vaccines include protection against:

  • Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) - FeLV is a retrovirus that is spread through saliva, nasal secretions, urine, feces, and milk of an infected cat; it may be transmitted through cats grooming each other. This condition weakens your cat's immune system and can lead to a lack of appetite, intestinal issues, lymphoma, leukemia, reproductive issues, secondary infections due to immunosuppression, poor healing, chronic respiratory infections, and inflammation of the gums
  • Bordetella - This bacteria is spread through direct and indirect contact with an infected cat. This condition causes upper respiratory infections that are highly contagious. This vaccination may be recommended by your vet if you are taking your cat to a groomer or boarding kennel. 
  • Chlamydophila Felis - Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that is spread through direct contact with an infected cat. This infection leads to severe conjunctivitis (eye irritation). The vaccination for this infection is often included in the distemper combination vaccination.
  • Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) - FIV is a retrovirus that is spread through saliva, primarily through cat bites. This virus suppresses the cat's white blood cells, gradually weakening the immune system. Cats infected with FIV will begin to show symptoms related to immunosuppression including inflammation of gums, diarrhea, skin infections, upper respiratory infections, pneumonia, weight loss, poor condition of coat, seizures, behavioral changes

When is it time for your kitten's first vaccinations?

Following the kitten vaccination schedule, you should bring your kitten in for their first vaccinations when they are around six to eight weeks old. Following that, your kitten should receive a series of vaccinations every three or four weeks until they are about 16 weeks old.

Indoor Cat & Kitten Vaccination Schedule

The needs of each cat will vary when it comes to preventive care, but a standard indoor cat and kitten vaccination schedule can look something like this:

6 to 8 Weeks

  • Rhinotracheitis, Calcivirus, Panleukopenia, Chlamydia

10 to 12 Weeks

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

14 to 16 Weeks

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

Every 1 to 3 Years

  • Booster: Rabies
  • Booster: Feline Leukemia

When are booster shots needed?

Depending on the vaccination, adult cats should get booster shots once a year or every three years. When you should bring your adult cat back for booster shots, your vet will advise you on the kitten and adult cat vaccination schedule that suits your needs.

Is a kitten protected against diseases after their first vaccinations?

Your kitten is not fully vaccinated until they have received all of their injections, at about 14-16 weeks of age. Once they have received all of those initial vaccinations your kitten will be protected against the diseases covered by the vaccines. 

If you want to allow your kitten outdoors before they have received all of their vaccinations, it is a good idea to keep them confined to low-risk areas such as your own backyard.

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.

Would you like to schedule your feline friend in for their routine vaccinations? Contact our Kingman veterinary team to book an appointment.

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