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Cat Vaccination Schedule

Ensuring your feline friend is healthy and protected from diseases is a top priority for any cat owner. A crucial aspect of this is adhering to a proper cat vaccination schedule. Whether you have a young kitten or an indoor adult cat, vaccinations significantly maintain their well-being. Let’s review a typical cat vaccination schedule and why it is essential for your pet's health.

Understanding Your Cat’s Vaccination Schedule

Two categories of vaccinations are available for cats: core and lifestyle. Our Lisle vets strongly recommend that all cats, both indoor and outdoor cats, receive core vaccinations to protect them against highly contagious diseases they could be exposed to.

What Core Vaccines for Cats Protect Against 

Core vaccinations are recommended for all cats. These vaccinations are considered vital for protecting your cat from the following common and serious feline conditions: 

  • Panleukopenia (feline distemper) - Feline Panleukopenia (FP) is a severe, highly contagious viral disease caused by the feline parvovirus. The virus infects and kills rapidly growing and dividing cells, including those in the bone marrow, intestines, and developing fetuses. Infected cats spread it through urine, stool, nasal secretions, and fleas. Although infected cats are contagious for only a day or two, the virus can survive for up to a year in the environment, so cats can become infected without ever coming into direct contact with an infected cat.
  • Feline calicivirus (FCV) - The feline calicivirus spreads through direct contact with infected cats' saliva, nasal mucus, and eye discharge. It can also spread through aerosol droplets when an infected cat sneezes. This highly contagious virus causes mild to severe respiratory infections, eye irritation, and cat oral disease.
  • Feline herpesvirus type I (FHV, FHV-1) - This highly contagious and widely spread virus is a major cause of upper respiratory infections in cats. It can be spread through sharing litter trays or food bowls, inhaling sneeze droplets, or direct contact with an infected cat. Once infected, cats can carry the virus for life, and some may continue to spread it to others. Persistent FHV infection can also lead to eye problems.
  • Rabies - Rabies kills many mammals (including humans) every year. These vaccinations are required by law for cats in most states.

What Lifestyle Vaccines for Cats Protect Against 

Lifestyle vaccines or non-core vaccines are suitable for some cats, based on their lifestyle. Your vet will advise you which non-core vaccines are recommended for your cat. Non-core vaccines include protection against:

  • Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) -Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) is a retrovirus that can be spread through an infected cat's saliva, nasal secretions, urine, feces, and milk. It can also be transmitted through grooming. This virus weakens cats' immune systems and can result in symptoms such as loss of appetite, intestinal problems, lymphoma, leukemia, reproductive issues, susceptibility to other infections, slow healing, chronic respiratory diseases, and gum inflammation.
  • Bordetella - Is spread through direct and indirect contact with an infected cat. It causes highly contagious upper respiratory infections. Your vet may recommend this vaccine if you take your cat to a groomer or boarding kennel. 
  • Chlamydophila Felis—Chlamydia is a bacterial infection spread through direct contact with an infected cat. It leads to severe conjunctivitis (eye irritation). The vaccination for this infection is often included in the distemper combination vaccine.
  • Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) - "FIV is a retrovirus that spreads through saliva, mainly through cat bites. This virus weakens the immune system by suppressing the cat's white blood cells. Symptoms of FIV-infected cats include inflamed gums, diarrhea, skin infections, upper respiratory infections, pneumonia, weight loss, poor coat condition, seizures, and behavioral changes."

When to Get Your Kitten Their First Shots

Your kitten should see the veterinarian for its first vaccinations at about six to eight weeks. After that, it should receive a series of vaccines at three—or four-week intervals until it is about 16 weeks old.

When To Get Your Cat Their Booster Shots

Depending on the vaccine, adult cats should receive booster shots yearly or every three years. Your vet will advise when you bring your adult cat back for booster shots.

Full Protection From Your Kitten's First Vaccines

Your kitten is not fully vaccinated until it has received all of its injections, at about 12-16 weeks of age. Once it has received all of those initial vaccinations, your kitten will be protected against the diseases covered by the vaccines. 

If you want to allow your kitten outdoors before receiving all of its vaccines, keeping it confined to low-risk areas such as your backyard is a good idea.

The Importance of Cat Vaccinations

Adhering to a proper cat vaccination schedule, whether for a kitten, an adult cat, or an indoor cat, is a fundamental aspect of responsible pet ownership. Regular vaccinations help ensure your feline companion remains healthy and protected from potentially serious diseases. Always consult your veterinarian to determine the best vaccination plan for your cat, considering their lifestyle, health status, and local regulations.

Following these guidelines, you can provide your cat with the best possible care and ensure it lives a long, healthy, and happy life.

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.

Is your kitty due for their routine vaccinations? Contact our Lisle vets today to book an appointment for your cat or kitten.

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Green Trails Animal Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Lisle companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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