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Should I get my indoor cat vaccinated?

Preventive care is a vital part of caring for your feline friend. This includes routine vaccines to help protect your kitty against many contagious and potentially life-threatening diseases. But what if your cat never goes outside? Our Killen vets share the importance of having your indoor cat vaccinated and when they should have these routine vaccinations.

Vaccinations to Keep Cats Safe

It is essential to vaccinate your kitty to keep them safe from these preventable conditions. It's also very important to stay up to date with your cat's booster shots to keep them protected after their first kitten vaccinations.

Your cat gets booster shots to help them stay immune following the vaccines they were given as a kitten because they wear off. Each booster shot/vaccine for indoor cats has a schedule, at your veterinary appointments, your vet will let you know when it is time for your furry companions' next round of booster shots.

Should I vaccinate my indoor cat?

Many states have laws that make certain vaccinations mandatory for cats, even if you think your indoor kitty doesn't require them.  As an example, lots of states have a law stating that all cats must be given the rabies vaccine by the time they are 6 months old. After your cat receives their vaccine your vet will provide you with a certificate that states your cat was given the required shots.

2 types of vaccines are available for cats one is 'core vaccines' the other is 'lifestyle vaccines'.

Veterinarians recommend that all indoor cats should be given core vaccinations to keep them protected from a large range of extremely contagious diseases, so they are safe from illnesses if they escape from your house, go for grooming, or have to stay at a boarding facility, etc.

Core Vaccinations For Adult Cats

Your cat should be given core vaccinations to keep them protected from the following list of common, severe feline illnesses:

  • Rabies -rabies kills lots of mammals every year, even humans. This vaccine is mandatory for cats in the majority of states.
  • Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and Panleukopenia (FVRCP) - Often called the “distemper” shot, this is a combination vaccine that guards cats against feline viral panleukopenia, rhinotracheitis, and calicivirus.
  • Feline herpesvirus type I (FHV, FHV-1) - This ubiquitous virus is highly contagious, is a leading cause of upper respiratory infections, and can infect cats for life. It spreads when food bowls and litter boxes are shared with other cats, through direct contact or by inhalation of sneeze droplets. Sometimes cats will shed this condition where persistent cases of FHV can create eye problems.

Lifestyle (Non-Core) Vaccines for Adult Cats

Some cats will need lifestyle/ non-core vaccinations depending on the lifestyle they live. Your veterinarian will let you know which ones your kitty should get. This type of vaccine protects your cat from the following conditions: 

  • Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia (FeLV) - These vaccines usually are only recommended for cats that are outdoors often and protect them against viral infections that are contracted from close contact exposure. 
  • Bordetella - A highly contagious bacteria that causes upper respiratory infections. Your vet might suggest this vaccine if you are taking your cat to a boarding kennel or groomer.
  • Chlamydophila felis - This vaccination is often part of the distemper combination vaccine. It protects your cat from Chlamydia which is a bacterial infection that causes severe conjunctivitis. 

When should I bring my kitten in for vaccinations?

Kittens should have their first round of vaccinations when they are between 6 and 8 weeks of age. Below is a series of vaccinations your kitten should given in three to four-week intervals (til they are about 16 weeks old). 

Kitten Vaccination Schedule

First visit (6 to 8 weeks)

  • Chlamydia, calicivirus, rhinotracheitis and panleukopenia

Second visit (10 to 12 weeks)

  • Booster: chlamydia, calicivirus, rhinotracheitis and panleukopenia
  • Feline leukemia

Third visit (14 to 16 weeks)

  • Booster: chlamydia, calicivirus, rhinotracheitis and panleukopenia
  • Booster: feline leukemia
  • Rabies

Your kitten will not be fully vaccinated until they are roughly 12 - 16 weeks old, which is when they should have received all of their vaccinations. Once the initial vaccinations are given your kitty will be safe from all of the diseases and illnesses the vaccinations cover.

We recommend keeping your kitten in restricted, low-risk areas such as your backyard if you want to let them outside before they have been fully vaccinated. Once fully vaccinated you will need to bring your cat in regularly for boost shots for continued protection.

What are the potential side effects of cat vaccines?

A large majority of cats won't experience side effects from their shots. If a reaction does occur, it tends to be minor and lasts only last a short period. However, in rare situations, some serious reactions could happen such as: 

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Lameness
  • Hives
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Severe lethargy
  • Redness or swelling around the injection site

If you think your cat is developing side effects from a vaccine contact your vet immediately! Your veterinarian will assist you in determining if your cat requires special care or a follow-up appointment.

Cat & Dog Vaccinations & Prevention

At Center Star Veterinary Services, we focus on preventive care to keep common diseases and disorders from impacting your pet's health in the first place.

When combined with regular wellness exams, pet vaccinations, and parasite prevention at our clinic forms the foundation of your furry friend's annual healthcare.

Preventive care gives your dog or cat their best chance at a long, healthy life. Our team will work with you to create a custom preventive care plan tailored to meet your pet's unique needs.

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.

If your pet needs routine vaccinations or booster shots, contact our Killen vets today.

Walk-ins Welcome

Center Star Veterinary Services offers walk-in veterinary services. Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Killen companion animals. Get in touch today to learn more about our services.

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