I have a new pet! Now What? Part 2 – Cat Vaccines

This is the second post in the 3 part series for animal vaccinations. In our last post we covered dog vaccines and the next post will be on exotic pet vaccines.

A lot of people might think that since their cat is “strictly an indoor cat” that there is no need for vaccinations. This is most certainly not the case. They, just like all of your other household (including strictly outdoor) pets need to be protected against diseases. Here are the most common feline vaccines that should be administered.

FVRCP protects again three different viruses; Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and Panleukopenia. They can be contracted by cats at any age. Rhinotracheitis is triggered by the common feline herpes virus. Sneezing, a runny nose, and drooling are among common symptoms. Eyes could become mucousy, they may sleep more and eat less than normal. If untreated, it can lead to dehydration, starvation and eventually death. Calcivirus has similar symptoms, affecting respiratory systems and also causing ulcers in the mouth. If left untreated, it can lead to pneumonia. Kitten and senior cats are especially susceptible. Panleukopenia is also known as distemper and is highly contagious between cats. Distemper is so common that nearly all cats –regardless of breed or living situations – will be exposed to it in their lifetime. It’s especially common in kittens who have not been vaccinated against it. Fever, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea are among the common symptoms. This disease progresses rapidly and requires immediate medical attention. Without medical attention from a veterinarian, a cat can die within 12 hours of contracting the disease.

Kittens should receive their first FVRCP vaccine in between 6-8 weeks of age, followed by three booster shots once a month. Adult cats should receive a boosters according to veterinarian recommendations.

FELV (Feline Leukemia) – a disease that only affects cats. FeLV is passed from one cat to another through saliva, blood, and to some extent, urine and feces. It can also be contracted to kittens in utero or through an infected mother’s milk. Exposure to infected cats raises your cat’s risk of contracting feline leukemia, especially for kittens and young adult cats. The FeLV vaccine should be administered when you give the last set of kitten shots (FVRCP) and boostered at veterinarian recommendation.

Rabies – not only is rabies required by law; but it’s very important  to protect both animals and humans from being exposed to rabies through a bite or saliva of a rabid animal. As with dogs, rabies is very dangerous and is non-treatable. Feline rabies vaccine should be given at 12-16 weeks of age and boostered a year later. After the year vaccine, it needs to be boostered every 3 years.   Please note that leaving the United States mainland may alter rabies vaccination needs due to import restrictions.


Sources: pets.webmd.com