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Comprehensive Guide to Feline Vaccinations

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by Alexander Thompson
May 19, 2022
3 minute read
TABLE OF CONTENTS
  • Scheduling Your Cats Shots
  • Types of Cats Vaccinations
  • Should Your Kitty Receive Booster Shots?
  • Should Indoor Cats Get Vaccinated?
  • Inherent Vaccination Risk
  • Conclusion
Whether or not you believe cats have 9 lives, as a pet parent, you are solely responsible for the health of your felines. Providing the correct vaccinations will go to great lengths in protecting your best friend’s immune system to combat and prevent viruses, bacteria, and other diseases. By working directly with a vet, you can ensure the highest familiarity with your cat, and build a strong relationship for years to come.

Scheduling Your Cats Shots

Sticking to a vaccination schedule is just as essential for cats as it is for people. This ensures proper protection against life-threatening feline diseases through every single stage of development. Booster shots are also designed to keep said protection maintained for long-term health, but how do you know when it’s time to schedule an appointment? Thankfully, there are some guidelines that will keep your four-legged friend up to date.

6 to 10 Weeks Old

Your kitty cat will receive its first round of vaccinations between 6 to 10 weeks of age.

10 to 12 Weeks Old

Your cat will receive additional doses of core vaccinations.

14 Weeks and Beyond

From 14 to 16 weeks your cat will receive doses of core vaccines, including the important rabies shot. From here, they move on to annual doses.
At this point in your cat’s life, it’s essential to build a relationship with your vet. No one will be able to help your cat as much as they can, so use them as the source of information they are.

Kitten Vaccinations

The shots your cat will receive as a kitten are as follows:
  • 6-10 Weeks Old: FVRCP (feline distemper)
  • 11-14 Weeks Old: FVRCP, FeLV (feline leukemia)
  • 15+ Weeks Old: FVRCP, FeLV, rabies vaccine

Adult Cat Vaccinations

Your cat’s vaccine schedule doesn’t stop once they become an adult, in fact, annual boosters are just as important as core shots. While adults are at a lower risk of exposure to disease, it’s safest to assume that yearly vaccinations provide reliable coverage for your best friend. Be sure to speak with your vet in regard to the annual vaccination options available and most valuable in your area.

Types of Cats Vaccinations

In terms of cat vaccines, there are typically two categories of shots. Core and non-core vaccinations both have an important role to play in the health of your feline. Core vaccines are more essential, providing cats protection against the most severe diseases around. Non-core vaccinations must be given careful consideration, and are typically given when there is a genuine risk of exposure.

Core Vaccinations

It’s advisable for cats of all ages to be caught up on core vaccinations, and started on a course from the very beginning. Many core vaccines come in the form of a vaccination combination, such as the F3 vaccine, providing protection against:
a kitten is taking medical examination

Non-Core Vaccinations

Cats within a specific risk category, depending on individual risk and assessment, may qualify for non-core vaccinations. These shots are supplied for felines in specific areas, or those with certain health conditions that leave them at risk. Typically, these vaccines protect against:

Should Your Kitty Receive Booster Shots?

While core and non-core vaccinations have an important role to play, all vaccines can provide protection against life-threatening diseases. It’s important to note, not all vaccinations are created equal – some don’t require boosters. By staying on top of boosters, you can potentially avoid placing your cat at significant risk of developing a disease or illness.
Vets typically recommended booster vaccines for felines on a yearly basis, however, this way of thinking has changed. As vaccines continue to evolve, our progress on the front improves. In fact, now we have an understanding of how each vaccine and booster must be treated on an individual basis.
Depending on the lifestyle assessment of your adult cat, they may be able to abide by annual boosters, with some adhering to a three-year rule, instead. The American Association of Feline Practitioners guide to vaccines recommends keeping low-risk cats on a three year schedule in terms of core vaccines. Non-core vaccines will be kept on a case-to-case basis in terms of need.

Should Indoor Cats Get Vaccinated?

Keeping a cat indoors does not prevent it from coming into contact with avoidable bacteria, viruses, and diseases. Some pet parents are under the guise of skipping vaccines for their indoor cat simply because they never go outside. Unfortunately, the reality couldn’t be further from that statement, especially with all the science to back up vaccine claims.
Because of the airborne nature of diseases, your indoor cats are likely to come into contact with life-threatening illnesses. By maintaining a low-risk area within your home, you can lower his risk of developing said diseases, until he is fully vaccinated against them.
In the United States, the majority of states feature laws that require specific mandatory vaccinations for cats alone. In fact, you need to be able to prove their vaccination history in states such as South Carolina. For this reason, your vet will provide a certificate after shot updates, in order to prove they have been given.
an orange cat is getting vaccination

Inherent Vaccination Risk

As with any medical procedure or prescription, vaccinations come with inherent risks. Once your cat has been vaccinated, they may experience negative reactions within a few hours of vaccinating. Typically, these issues subside in a day or two. On rare occasions, though, cats experience an allergic reaction, wherein they develop itchiness, a mild fever, hives, and more. More serious allergic reactions may lead to pale gums, collapse, diarrhea, and vomiting.
In the event of an adverse reaction, please ensure you contact your vet immediately. When a cat shows signs of an allergic reaction, time is working against you to get the help required. It is important to note however, the risks associated with vaccination greatly outweigh those faced by unvaccinated cats alike.

Conclusion

Contrary to popular belief, indoor cats also require proof of vaccination. This is due to the risk of exposure through a variety of mediums. In order to keep your four-legged friend in optimal health, ensure they are up to date on vaccinations, and have good history with your vet.
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