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Cat Vaccination Schedule

Are you unsure whether your cat needs vaccinations, which ones they should get, and when? Our Lincoln vets can help. They have shared some information about cat vaccinations and the recommended schedule for administering them.

The Importance of Cat Vaccinations

Serious and often deadly diseases can spread among cats, affecting a large number of felines and kittens each year. To protect your cat from preventable diseases, starting vaccinating them from a young age, during their routine checkups, and continuing with booster shots regularly throughout their lifetime is essential.

After the initial vaccine's effects wear off, booster shots enhance your cat's immunity against various feline diseases. Booster shots are given based on specific schedules, and your veterinarian will inform you when it's time to bring your cat in for booster shots.

Why Indoor Cats Should Be Vaccinated

Vaccinating indoor cats is important, even if you may be skeptical about it. In many states, it is required by law for cats to have certain vaccinations. For instance, cats over the age of 6 months are required to be vaccinated against rabies in most states. Once your cat receives the shots, your veterinarian will provide you with a certificate as proof of vaccination.

Another crucial reason to vaccinate your indoor cat is that they may manage to sneak out of the house when you're not paying attention. Just a quick sniff around the backyard could be enough for your cat to contract a contagious virus that cats are susceptible to.

If your indoor cat spends time in a boarding facility or visits a groomer while you're away from home, vaccines are essential to protect your pet's health. There is always a risk of spreading viruses in areas where other cats have been, so make sure your indoor cat is protected with proper vaccination.

Types of Vaccines for Cats

Two categories of vaccinations are available for cats - 'core vaccines' and 'lifestyle vaccines.' It is highly recommended by our veterinarians located throughout the site that all cats - whether they are indoor or 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, commonly known as FP, is a highly contagious viral disease caused by the feline parvovirus. This virus attacks and kills rapidly growing and dividing cells in the bone marrow, intestines, and developing fetus. The virus spreads through urine, stool, and nasal secretions. Cats can become infected when they come in contact with these secretions or fleas from an infected cat. Although infected cats are contagious for only a day or two, the virus can survive in the environment for up to a year, which means cats can become infected without coming into direct contact with an infected cat."
  • Feline calicivirus (FCV) - This virus spreads through direct contact with the saliva, nasal mucus, and eye discharge of infected cats and through aerosol droplets spread when an infected cat sneezes. Feline calicivirus is a highly contagious virus that causes mild to severe respiratory infection, eye irritation, and oral disease in cats.
  • Feline herpesvirus type I (FHV, FHV-1) -This virus is a common cause of upper respiratory infections and is highly contagious. It can be spread through sharing litter trays or food bowls, inhaling sneeze droplets, or direct contact with infected cats. Once infected, cats can carry the virus for life, with some continuing to shed it. 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) - FeLV is a retrovirus that is spread through an infected cat's saliva, nasal secretions, urine, feces, and milk; it may be transmitted through cats grooming each other. This condition weakens your cat's immune system. It can lead to a lack of appetite, intestinal issues, lymphoma, leukemia, reproductive issues, secondary infections due to immunosuppression, poor healing, chronic respiratory infections, and inflammation of the gums.
  • Bordetella - This bacteria is spread through direct and indirect contact with an infected cat. This condition causes upper respiratory infections that are highly contagious. 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. This infection 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 spread through saliva, primarily through cat bites. This virus suppresses the cat's white blood cells, gradually weakening the immune system. Cats infected with FIV will begin to show symptoms related to immunosuppression, including inflammation of gums, diarrhea, skin infections, upper respiratory infections, pneumonia, weight loss, poor condition of coat, seizures, and behavioral changes.

When to Get Your Kitten Their First Shots

At about six to eight weeks, your kitten should see the veterinarian for their first round of vaccinations. After that, your kitten should receive a series of vaccines at three or four-week intervals until they are about 16 weeks old.

When To Get Your Cat Their Booster Shots

Depending on the vaccine, adult cats should receive booster shots annually or triennially. Your veterinarian will advise you when to bring your adult cat back for booster shots.

Full Protection From Your Kitten's First Vaccines

It is crucial to remember that your kitten will not be fully vaccinated until it receives all of its injections, usually between 12 to 16 weeks of age. Once your kitten has received all of its initial vaccinations, it will be protected against the diseases it covers.

If you want your kitten to go outside before receiving all of its vaccinations, it is advisable to keep it in low-risk areas, such as your backyard. This will help reduce the chances of your kitten contracting any diseases.

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 Lincoln vets today to book an appointment for your cat or kitten.

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Critter Creek Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of pets in Lincoln and the Greater Sacramento Area. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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