Vaccinations for Your Cat

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) for kittens and adult cats recommend the following:

1. Feline panleukopenia virus
2. Feline viral rhinotracheitis, also known as herpes virus type 1 (FHV-1)
3. Feline caliciviruses
4. Rabies virus
5. Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is considered a core vaccine in kittens only.

Kittens are vaccinated for the first time between six and eight weeks of age, and booster doses are given every three to four weeks until 16-20 weeks of age. A kitten will not be fully protected until seven to ten days after completing the vaccination series.

New, improved vaccines and further studies suggest that adult cats that received the full booster series of vaccines as kittens should be re-vaccinated a year later and then every one to three years based on a lifestyle risk assessment. If your cat is at higher risk for exposure to a disease, a more frequent vaccination schedule (every year) may be recommended. There are very few risks associated with vaccination. Your cat may have a temporary loss of appetite or is less lively a day or two after a vaccination, but this should resolve shortly. Very few cats have more serious side effects such as difficulty in breathing, vomiting, or diarrhea. If these signs occur, contact your veterinarian immediately.

You may think because your cats are indoors-only, they aren’t exposed to the diseases and don’t need the shots. But this is not true. Even if cats primarily stay indoors, it’s still important to keep them vaccinated for several reasons:

Prevention of Indoor Hazards: Indoor cats can still come into contact with various hazards such as plants, household chemicals, and small objects that can harm them. Vaccinations help protect them from diseases that they might be exposed to if they accidentally ingest or encounter these hazards.

Escape or Accidental Outdoor Exposure: Cats are notorious for their curiosity and sometimes may escape or accidentally get outdoors. In such situations, they could be exposed to infectious diseases like rabies or feline leukemia virus (FeLV) from other outdoor cats or wildlife.

Zoonotic Diseases: Some diseases that cats can carry, such as rabies or certain types of parasites, can be transmitted to humans. Keeping your cat vaccinated helps protect not only your pet but also your family.

Compliance with Local Laws: In many places, vaccination against certain diseases like rabies is required by law, regardless of whether the cat is indoors or outdoors. North Carolina law requires that all pets four months of age and older be current on their rabies vaccine.

Preventing Disease Spread: Even though your cat may be indoors, there’s always a risk of bringing in diseases from the outside through items like clothing, shoes, or on other pets. Vaccinating your indoor cat helps prevent them from becoming carriers and potentially spreading diseases to other animals.

Overall, while indoor cats may have fewer risks compared to outdoor cats, vaccination is still essential for their health and well-being, as well as for the safety of your household and community. Regular veterinary check-ups can help determine the appropriate vaccination schedule based on your cat’s lifestyle and risk factors.

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