How Many Times Should I Vaccinate My Cat?

October 26, 2023by Nicole Tengco0

A huge part of responsible pet parenthood is ensuring that your cat is safe and healthy in all aspects. Diseases can occur at any time in cats, but thankfully, many serious illnesses can be prevented by vaccines. 

A vaccine is a substance that stimulates your cat’s immune system, helping it to recognize and fight off specific viruses or bacteria with which it may come into contact. It serves as a sort of training course for the immune system, preparing it for potential threats.

But how often should you vaccinate your cats? This is a question that many cat owners ask, and the answer can vary. In this article, you can find out all you need to know about vaccinating your cat and how frequently you should do so.

Why Should I Vaccinate My Cat?

Why are these vaccinations so important for your cat?

The primary reason to vaccinate your cat is to prevent them from contracting potentially deadly diseases. While there is an upfront cost associated with vaccinations, they can save you money in the long run. Treating the diseases that vaccines prevent can be expensive and may not guarantee your cat’s survival. Vaccinations are a cost-effective way of ensuring your cat stays safe and healthy.

Also, some diseases, like rabies, can be transmitted from animals to humans. By vaccinating your cat, you’re not only protecting them, but you’re also safeguarding your family and community.

Even indoor cats can be exposed to viral diseases, so it’s crucial to vaccinate all cats. It’s one of the best things you can do as a responsible pet parent!

Photo by Gustavo Fring

When to Vaccinate Your Kitten or Cat

Initially, kittens receive immunity from diseases through their mother’s milk, but this immunity fades as they grow older. 

The vaccination schedule for cats can vary based on their lifestyle, age, health status, and the type of vaccine. However, the general rule is that kittens should start receiving vaccinations when they are between 6 to 8 weeks old. These initial vaccines are usually followed by a series of booster shots at 3- to 4-week intervals until they reach 16 weeks old.

Adult cats should get regular booster shots as well. The frequency typically depends on the type of vaccine and the cat’s lifestyle but is usually once every 1-3 years. It’s essential to consult with your vet to determine the best vaccination schedule for your cat.

What Types of Vaccines Should You Give Your Cat?

Cat vaccines are generally categorized into two types: core and non-core vaccines. 

Core Vaccines for Cats

Core vaccines are those that every cat should receive, regardless of lifestyle or location. They protect against diseases that are widespread, severe, or can be transmitted to people. Some examples include:

Rabies Vaccine

Rabies is a deadly disease that can be transmitted to humans. Vaccinating your cat against rabies is not only essential for their health, but it also protects you, your family, and your community. Even indoor cats should receive this vaccine as they could potentially come into contact with a rabid animal in the rare event that one enters your home.

Feline Panleukopenia (Distemper) Vaccine

Distemper is a highly contagious and often deadly disease, especially in kittens. It can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. The distemper vaccine is typically given in combination with vaccines for calicivirus and rhinotracheitis.

Feline Herpesvirus-1 (FHV-1) and Feline Calicivirus (FCV) Vaccine

These viruses are responsible for most of the infectious feline upper respiratory tract diseases. They can cause severe pneumonia, especially in young kittens, and can be fatal. These vaccines are often combined with the distemper vaccine.

Non-Core Vaccines for Cats

Non-core vaccines are optional vaccines that should be considered based on the specific risk factors of your cat. Some examples are:

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) Vaccine

This is a leading viral killer of cats. The FeLV vaccine is generally recommended for cats that spend any time outside or cats that live with FeLV-positive cats. Your vet may also recommend this vaccine if your cat is likely to be exposed to FeLV, such as in a multi-cat household or if your cat is frequently in contact with other cats.

Bordetella or Chlamydophila Vaccines

These vaccinations are considered in multi-cat households or catteries with a history of these infections.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) Vaccine

This virus is similar to HIV in humans and can lead to the disease commonly known as feline AIDS. Vaccination is recommended for cats at risk of infection, such as outdoor cats or cats living in a household with an FIV-infected cat.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) Vaccine

Feline Infectious Peritonitis is a viral disease that can be fatal in cats. It’s most common in multi-cat environments. The vaccine for FIP is controversial due to questions about its effectiveness and is generally only recommended for cats at high risk of exposure.

Photo by Gustavo Fring

The Importance of Regular Vet Visits

Regular vet check-ups are also crucial in maintaining your cat’s health. These check-ups allow your vet to assess your cat’s overall health and determine if any adjustments need to be made to their vaccination schedule. For example, if your cat has a chronic illness, your vet may recommend a different vaccination schedule. 

Wrapping Up

The frequency of cat vaccinations depends on various factors, including their age, lifestyle, overall health status, and the specific vaccine. Generally, kittens should start their vaccinations at eight weeks old, receive boosters a year later, and then every three years. 

Non-core vaccines may be given annually or every two to three years, depending on your cat’s risk of exposure to the disease. Regular vet check-ups are essential to ensure your cat’s vaccination schedule remains on track. 

Remember, each cat is unique, and what works for one may not necessarily work for another. Always consult your vet to create a personalized vaccination plan for your cat. Vaccinations are a crucial part of ensuring your feline friend lives a long, happy, and healthy life.

If you want a reliable veterinarian to visit your cat right in the comfort of your home, you can do so! At PetPal, we offer home vet visits to help you keep your furry pal happy and healthy. Schedule an appointment today!

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