Although your cat may be an indoor pet, it's crucial not to skip their vaccinations. Indoor cats should receive the same level of vaccinations as their outdoor counterparts. Our veterinarians in Somerset will elaborate further on why indoor cats need vaccines.
It is important to note that several serious diseases can be spread among cats and kittens each year. Therefore, getting your cat vaccinated at an early age and continuing with regular "booster injections" throughout their life is crucial to prevent them from contracting a fatal but avoidable illness. Booster shots aid in enhancing your cat's protection against various feline diseases once the effects of the initial vaccine subside. Your veterinarian will provide you with a schedule for administering booster shots, so make sure to follow their advice and bring your cat back for their booster shots.
The Importance of Keeping Indoor Cats Vaccinated
Did you know that vaccinations are important for indoor cats too? In fact, many states require certain vaccinations by law, such as vaccinating cats over 6 months old against rabies. Your veterinarian will provide you with a certificate showing your cat has been vaccinated as required.
But there are other reasons to vaccinate your indoor cat as well. Sometimes indoor cats sneak out and can contract contagious viruses outside. Additionally, vaccinations are essential to protect their health if your cat goes to a groomer or boarding facility.
Two types of vaccinations are available for pets: core and lifestyle. Our veterinarians at Somerset strongly advise all indoor and outdoor cats to receive core vaccinations to protect them from highly contagious diseases. Stay safe and keep your furry friend protected!
Core Vaccines 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 - rabies kills many mammals (including humans) every year. These vaccinations are required by law for cats in most states.
- Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and Panleukopenia (FVRCP) - This combination vaccine protects against feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia, and is commonly referred to as the "distemper" shot.
- Feline herpesvirus type I (FHV, FHV-1) - One of the most common causes of upper respiratory infections is this highly contagious and widespread virus. The virus can infect cats for life if they share litter trays or food bowls, inhale sneeze droplets, or come into direct contact. Some people will continue to shed the virus, and FHV infection can cause vision problems.
Lifestyle (Non-Core) Cat Vaccines
Some cats, depending on their lifestyle, may benefit from non-core vaccinations. Your veterinarian is the best person to tell you which non-core vaccines your cat needs. Vaccines for a healthy lifestyle protect against:
- Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia (Felv) - These vaccines protect against viral infections spread through close contact. They're usually only recommended for cats who spend a lot of time outside.
- Bordetella - This bacteria causes highly contagious upper respiratory infections. If you're taking your cat to a groomer or boarding kennel, your vet may recommend this vaccine.
- Chlamydophila felis - Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that causes severe conjunctivitis. The vaccination for the infection is often included in the distemper combination vaccine.
Indoor Cat Vaccination Schedule
Shots for kittens - whether your kitty will live indoors or be allowed out to roam - should be given starting at about six to eight weeks old. Following this, your cat should get a series of shots at three-to-four-week intervals until they reach about 16 weeks of age.
For all cats, the recommended vaccination schedule is the same. It's a question of which vaccines are best suited to your cat's lifestyle when it comes to the differences between vaccinating indoor cats vs. outdoor cats. Your veterinarian will advise you on which vaccines your cat needs.
When To Get Your Kitten Their Shots
First visit (6 to 8 weeks)
- Review nutrition and grooming
- Blood test for feline leukemia
- Fecal exam for parasites
- Vaccinations for chlamydia, calicivirus, rhinotracheitis and panleukopenia
Second visit (12 weeks)
- Examination and external check for parasites
- First feline leukemia vaccine
- Second vaccinations for calicivirus rhinotracheitis, and panleukopenia
- First feline leukemia vaccine
Third visit (follow veterinarian's advice)
- Rabies vaccine
- Second feline leukemia vaccine
Booster Shots for Cats
It is important for adult cats to receive booster shots either annually or every three years, depending on the type of vaccine. Your veterinarian will inform you of when it is necessary to bring your adult cat back for these booster shots.
It's important to note that your cat won't be fully vaccinated until they've received all rounds of vaccinations, typically between 12 to 16 weeks of age. Once your kitten has completed all initial vaccinations, they will be protected against the diseases or conditions covered by the vaccines. If you're eager to take your kitten outside before they're fully vaccinated, it's best to keep them in low-risk areas such as your own backyard.
Side Effects From Cat Vaccines
The vast majority of cats will have no negative side effects as a result of their vaccinations. If there are any reactions, they are usually minor and short-lived. However, in rare instances, more serious reactions can occur, such as:
- Loss of appetite
- Redness or swelling around the injection site
- Severe lethargy
If you suspect that your cat is experiencing any adverse reactions to a vaccine, it is best to contact your veterinarian without delay. Your veterinarian can guide you on the necessary steps to take and provide any additional care or follow-up that may be necessary.
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.