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What Vaccines Do Cats Need Yearly

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Which Cats Are Most At Risk For Fvr Infection

What Vaccines do Dogs and Cats Need

All cats can become infected with FVR infections, but infection tends to be more severe in young animals or animals that have another chronic disease. Kittens born to a cat that is carrying a latent FVR infection may become infected after birth. In these kittens, symptoms usually develop several weeks after birth, and the infection can be very serious.

Why Should I Get My Indoor Cat Vaccinated

Though you may not think your indoor cat requires vaccinations, by law cats must have certain vaccinations in many states. For example, a common law requires cats over the age of 6 months to be vaccinated against rabies. In return for the vaccinations, your veterinarian will provide you with a vaccination certificate, which should be stored in a safe place.

When considering your cats health, its always prudent to be cautious, as cats are often curious by nature. Our vets recommend core vaccinations for indoor cats to protect them against diseases they could be exposed to if they happen to escape the safety of your home.

Cat Vaccines

There are two basic types of vaccinations for cats.

Core vaccinations should be given to all cats, as they are essential for protecting them against the following common but serious feline conditions:


Rabies kills many mammals every year. These vaccinations are required by law for cats in most states.

Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia Typically known as the distemper shot, this combination vaccine protects against feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia.

Feline herpesvirus type I

Non-core vaccinations are appropriate for some cats depending on their lifestyle. Your vet will provide advice about which non-core vaccines your cat should have. These offer protection against:

Feline immunodeficiency virus and Feline Leukemia


Chlamydophila felis

Are Other Cats In The Household At Risk Of Infection

A cat that has an acute FVR infection will be infective to other cats during the incubation period and for up to three weeks after developing symptoms. A cat that is a carrier may always be infective to other cats. The risk of infection increases in cats that are unvaccinated, are young, or have chronic underlying problems. Adult cats that have been adequately vaccinated will likely only develop a mild case of illness, which may resolve without treatment.

“A cat that has an acute FVR infection will be infective to other cats.”

Affected cats must be isolated from other cats to avoid further spread of disease. It is always prudent to isolate any new cat from the other cats in your household for at least one to two weeks to minimize transmission of any infectious diseases.

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What About Adverse Events

No injection or medication is without some degree of risk, but we continue to vaccinate because, in most cases, it is much smaller than the risk of the disease itself.

The overall incidence of adverse reactions in cats is reported to be about half of 1 percent and usually mild and self-limiting. Common side effects include lethargy, transient fever and local inflammation.

Anaphylaxis and death are, fortunately, extremely rare: about one in every 10,000 vaccines.

A vaccine-associated sarcoma is a slow-growing but locally aggressive cancerous mass that develops at vaccine injection sites. Sarcomas occur with about the same rare frequency as anaphylactic reactions.

For cats without a history of vaccine reactions, the risk of sarcomas is usually outweighed by the benefit of the core vaccines.

Pet owners can minimize the impact of sarcomas by monitoring injection sites for swelling after vaccinations. Swellings should be biopsied if they are larger than 2 centimeters, persist longer than three months, or grow one month past the date of vaccination. When sarcomas are addressed early, surgery is often curative.

How Can This Disease Be Prevented

Do cats need covid vaccines?

The standard core vaccines that are given to cats include a vaccine against feline viral rhinotracheitis. The FVR vaccine will not completely prevent an infection from occurring if your cat is exposed to the virus, but it will significantly reduce the severity of the infection and will shorten the length of the illness. Solid immunity to these viruses is not long term, and may be overcome by exposure to a high dose of virus. Therefore, the FVR vaccine needs to be boostered on a regular basis – your veterinarian will advise you on the recommended booster schedule for your individual cat, based on its lifestyle and risk of disease.

A cat that is a carrier of FVR may benefit from periodic boosters with the intranasal herpes and calicivirus vaccine , which may prevent reactivation of the virus, thus decreasing the likelihood of recurrent infection and of viral shedding.

Boarding facilities, humane societies, animal shelters, and cat shows are all places where susceptible cats can be readily exposed to these infectious diseases. If you plan on boarding or showing your cat, consult your veterinarian about the need for a booster vaccine at least two weeks before the planned event.

“The standard core vaccines that are given to cats include a vaccine against feline viral rhinotracheitis.”

If your cat has had an FVR infection, you should keep her indoors to prevent spread of this infection to other cats in your neighborhood.

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What Are The Recommended Kitten And Cat Vaccination Schedules

Kitten vaccinations and cat vaccinations are dependent upon several factors, including preexisting medical conditions and indoor or outdoor living situations. You should always discuss these factors with a veterinarian to determine what your cat vaccine schedule should be. However, we have listed an approximate cat vaccine schedule here for an ‘average’ indoor housecat to give you an idea of a cat vaccination timeline:

Vaccines Your Kitten Should Have


Adopting a new kitten means going through many milestones together, including bringing your cat home for the first time, litter training her and introducing her to other animals to name a few. Other important first steps will take place in your veterinarian’s office. From vaccinations to spaying and neutering, being a new pet parent comes with new responsibilities.

To help you prepare, here’s a list of the most common kitten vaccinations vets recommend and why they’re important for your new family member. Educate yourself first, and then work with your vet to create a vaccine schedule right for your family.

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Vaccines And Kidney Disease:

A separate issue relating to the vaccination of cats is the possibility that frequent vaccination may increase the incidence of chronic kidney disease. It has been shown that transient inflammation occurs in the kidneys of cats following vaccination. Given the extremely common occurrence of kidney disease in older cats, questions have been raised as to whether the two are related. This has not yet been proven, however, a recent study of factors associated with chronic kidney disease indicated an increased risk of developing kidney disease in cats that were vaccinated frequently as compared to cats not vaccinated frequently.

How To Know If Your Indoor Cat Needs Annual Shots

Hot Vet – Cats and Vaccines

The simple answer is ask your veterinarian. Be prepared to answer many questions and ask many questions to determine the best solution for your cat.

Cats with compromised immune systems may need annual boosters, while healthy young cats may not need shots for three years at a time. But some feline viruses mutate rapidly, and annual boosters may be necessary for continual immunity toward a virus.

Regular boosters will give the peace of mind that your cat is protected against the latest strains. But again, this is ultimately up to the veterinarian you trust.;

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Vaccination & Reproductive Surgery Schedule

Current vaccinations are a vital component of effective veterinary care for cats and dogs, and essential when it comes to protecting your pet from serious, contagious diseases.;

Kitten Vaccinations

Over the course of their first year, kittens should have the following vaccines administered in order to protect them from disease.

Some Final Things To Consider When Thinking How Often Do Cats Need Shots

Finally, one must consider the risk of adverse vaccination events in cats. Cats are at risk of cancers called injection site sarcomas. Although vaccines have saved countless feline lives, they also have a non-negligible potential to cause harm.

So, what is a concerned cat owner to do? No honest person can offer a clearly defined thesis on the matter of vaccines and regular parasite preventatives in cats. But I have been very consistent over the years with the following recommendation. Here it is: Find a good vet and talk it over. A good vet will recognize the complexities of every cats situation, and will take the time to help you tailor a protocol to your and your cats individual needs. Beware of any person who makes the subject sound simple in truth, it is anything but.

This piece was originally published in 2015.

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What Vaccines Does My Adult Cat Need

The goal of vaccinating your adult cat is to prevent as many diseases as possible.What vaccines are even available for your adult cat?There are lots of vaccines available, but not all cats need to be vaccinated for all diseases all the time. There are two general groupings of vaccinations;

  • Those against so called core diseases
  • Those against non-core diseases

Do vaccinations have risks?As with any medical procedure there are some risks associated with vaccines. Those risks minor, transient effects to serious adverse effects:

Core Vaccines For Adult Cats

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The American Association of Feline Practitioners , the American Veterinary Medical Association , and the American Animal Hospital Association recommend certain vaccines be given to all cats regardless of their exposure risk. These vaccines are typically given every three years to adult cats that received them as kittens. Because cats are prone to developing tumors at injection sites, vaccine frequency should be minimized but minimization should not be misinterpreted as avoidance. This is why it is important to follow your veterinarian’s recommendation for the vaccination schedule that is best for your cat.

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Do Cats Need Vaccinations To Go Outside

Any cat that ventures outside should be vaccinated in full. This means the cat should have all core and non-core vaccines. It also protects other cats in your neighborhood.

At a minimum, your cat may need a rabies shot to go outdoors. This depends on the legislation of your state. Regardless of whether this is a legal requirement, you should protect your cat from rabies.

Rabid pets in the United States are rare, not least due to the prevalence of vaccination. In wild animals, rabies can spread like wildfire. Common examples of wildlife that may carry the rabies virus include:

  • Rabbits
  • Coyotes
  • Skunks

These animals could be predators or prey to cats. As rabies is passed on through biting, this makes them high risk. Rabies is far from the only risk, though.

If your cat is not vaccinated against the herpesvirus or calicivirus, it will get a heavy cold. At best, this will result in weeks of quarantine, low energy, and discomfort. However, in senior cats, a respiratory infection can be more serious.

Even more concerning is the risk of panleukopenia, feline leukemia virus, or feline virus. If your cat contracts these infections, its life is at serious risk. Vaccination reduces this risk, even if it cannot eradicate it.

How Is A Calicivirus Infection Diagnosed

In most cases, a presumptive diagnosis of a calicivirus infection is based on the characteristic clinical signs, especially if ulcers are present. A definitive diagnosis of the virus is not always necessary but may be recommended for breeding animals, or if an individual cat has an infection that is poorly responsive to treatment.

Diagnosis may be confirmed by collecting samples of cells and discharges from the mouth, nose, or eyes and submitting these samples to a laboratory for specialized testing such as viral isolation, identification by a PCR test or immune-histochemical staining. If the infection has spread to the lungs, samples may be collected for examination by a procedure called a transtracheal wash. If a cat is showing sudden signs of lameness, X-rays may be recommended to rule out other causes such as an injury. If a cat has persistent respiratory symptoms, your veterinarian will recommend additional diagnostic testing such as chest or skull X-rays, blood tests, or culture and sensitivity testing of abnormal discharges.

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I Would Prefer My Cat To Have Boosters Only When Necessary Is This Okay

It is possible, but in order to determine when boosters might be necessary for an individual cat, it is necessary to test the cat’s blood to determine the antibody titers, or actual level of immunity against each specific disease. If a specific antibody titer is found to be low, your cat will require a booster vaccine. Currently, few monovalent vaccines, or vaccines that protect only against one disease, are available; when they are available they are likely to cost as much, if not more, than a multivalent vaccine that protects against multiple diseases.

From your cats point of view, it is preferable to receive one injection against the common diseases rather than a series of single disease vaccinations.

In the past, veterinarians recommended booster vaccinations for cats on a yearly basis. However, as research into vaccines progresses, recommendations for booster frequency continue to evolve. The appropriate interval for boosters will vary with individual circumstances and vaccine type. Recent studies have demonstrated that some viral vaccines may convey at least three years of immunity. This is not the case with bacterial vaccines, which usually still require annual boosters.

“Most adult cats should be revaccinated every one to three years based on lifestyle risk assessment.”

“Ultimately, how frequently your cat should be vaccinated is determined by your cats lifestyle and relative risk.”

What Happens If Cats Dont Get Shots

Cats and dogs may need their own COVID-19 vaccines

If youre lucky, nothing at all. If youre not, the cat can become very sick. Also, you may be breaking the law. Some states insist on any domesticated cats getting a rabies vaccination, at the very least.

Vaccines are designed to protect a cat from diseases. There are many forms of feline vaccinations. Some are considered essential , and others are optional .

If your cat isnt vaccinated, it is not just its health that can be jeopardized. You will also likely be prohibited from traveling with your cat. In addition, many catteries will refuse to accept unvaccinated cats.

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Symptoms Of Feline Infectious Enteritis

Symptoms include:

Unfortunately there is no cure for feline enteritis but if caught in time, vets can try to treat the symptoms and give intensive nursing care to support your cats recovery.

Despite treatment, the disease can often be fatal, especially for young kittens.

Pregnant cats with the infection could lose their kittens or lead to abnormal brain development, causing them to develop a condition called cerebellar hypoplasia. This means they wont be able to walk properly and can display tremors and visual problems. Kittens with this condition need a lot of support to lead healthy lives.

Do Older Cats Need Vaccinations

The Journal of Comparative Pathology confirms that senior cats have weaker immunity than their younger counterparts. This suggests that older cats, especially those that wander outside, need core vaccinations.

As cats get older, any health ailment will be worse. For example, most healthy adult cats will recover from a respiratory infection in two weeks. However, a senior cat could take a month to recover or may not recover at all.

Vaccinations do not 100% protect a cat from infection. Your senior cat may still get sick, even if vaccinated. However, the impact of the infection will be reduced, giving the cat a chance of recovering faster.

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How Long Is A Cat Infectious After Getting The Virus

Once a cat is infected with FVR, they will usually show disease symptoms in 2-5 days . The cat can infect other cats during this incubation period. In most cases, once symptoms appear the active infection will last about 10-20 days.

“Stress and illness can cause the virus to become reactivated.”

All cats that have been infected with FVR will become carriers of this virus; most carriers will be latent, meaning that the virus will survive in an inactive form within the cat’s body. Stress and illness can cause the virus to become reactivated, and if the virus becomes reactivated, the cat will again be infectious. In the majority of cases, the cat will show symptoms of a respiratory infection when the virus is reactivated. However, not all cats with a reactivated FVR infection will show symptoms of disease. All cats that are actively shedding virus present a risk to other cats.

Are There Any Other Advantages Of Annual Vaccination


Not all vaccines provide protection for a year. In particular, vaccines that protect against non-viral diseases such as Chlamydia and Bordetella provide immunity for less than a year. Some experts also recommend annual revaccination with feline leukemia vaccine if your cat is exposed to other cats on a regular basis. You and your veterinarian should decide which vaccinations your cat receives annually based on your cats lifestyle, age, and health status.

Prior to vaccine administration, your veterinarian will perform a health or wellness examination. You will be asked specific questions about your cat’s health status, and the veterinarian will check your cat’s head, neck, chest and abdomen, muscles, skin, joints, and lymph nodes. Annual vaccines mean annual examination by a veterinarian; veterinarians frequently detect infections of the teeth or ears, and sub-clinical diseases such as underlying heart conditions, metabolic problems or organ dysfunction during these visits. Early diagnosis allows more effective and successful treatment and may improve the quality of your cats life.

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