Pet Vaccinations – Cats (part 1)

There are two groups of vaccinations that veterinarians give to pets. What do all these vaccinations do? Are they required? What age do my pets need to be to get the vaccinations?

Here’s a list of core group and non-core group vaccinations for cats. Stay tuned, next will be core and non-core groups for dogs!


Core Group Vaccinations for Cats

Core group vaccinations are recommended for all pets. Core-group vaccines protect against diseases that are more serious or potentially fatal. These diseases are more easily transmitted than noncore diseases.

Cats core vaccinations are lumped into two main injections. The first vaccine, commonly called “Feline 3-way”, contains agents against the diseases Feline Calicivirus (FCV), Feline Herpesvirus (FHV), and Feline Panleukopenia Virus (FPV, Feline Distemper). This vaccination is safe to give to kittens as young as three weeks of age, but is normally given between 6 and 8 weeks of age, and then a booster given at 1-2 years of age. This vaccine can be either a killed virus, or a modified live virus. The modified live virus is not recommended for pregnant queens or kittens younger than 4 weeks old. The vaccine is generally given at the right shoulder, to help prevent vaccine created sarcomas (tumors).

Rabies is the next required vaccination. This is given in the right rear leg, also to prevent vaccine created sarcomas. Most states in the United States require the rabies vaccine for both cats and dogs since it is zoonotic, or easily transferrable from humans to animals, and vice versa. Most people do not expect cats to contract rabies since it is always fatal in the unprotected cat and causes death rather quickly. Indoor cats are also at risk for contracting rabies. The rabies vaccination is given to kittens from 8-12 weeks of age, a booster at 1 year, and then another booster after every three years.


Non-Core Group Vaccinations for Cats

Non-Core vaccines may be recommended based on the risk the diseases pose to the individual cats.

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)

Leukemia vaccines are used in situations where the cat lives with an infected cat, shows or travels widely, goes outdoors, or is in a multi-cat household such as a cattery or shelter where exposure to cats of unknown virus status are present. Though the vaccine may not provide protection in all cats, those going outdoors or exposed to or living with infected cats could benefit from vaccination. Testing for FeLV is required before vaccination. Cats who show a positive titer for FeLV are not vaccinated, since they are already infected. The vaccine is given to kittens between 8-12 weeks of age, a booster from 14 -16 weeks, a booster at 1 year old, and an annual booster if it is needed. This vaccine is given subcutaneously (SubQ or under the skin) as

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low as possible on the left rear limb. This is to help prevent vaccine induced sarcomas.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

Also known as Feline AIDS, FIV is often transmitted by being bitten by an infected cat. This disease is related to the human AIDS virus (HIV) but transmission from cats to humans does not occur. As with human AIDS, there is no cure, so preventing exposure to infected cats is the best measure. Outdoor cats who fight, or are in close contact with other cats with an unknown FIV status, it is recommended that your cat be vaccinated. If you are concerned about FIV and your cat, please speak with your veterinarian. This vaccine

is not a core vaccine so it is only given if your cat is at risk or is living in an area of high risk.

Chlamydophila felis

Chlamydophilosis is caused by an organism that infects the upper respiratory tract and eyes of cats. This vaccine tends to reduce clinical signs, but does not strongly protect against infection. If a cat is infected, Antibiotics are usually prescribed to control symptoms.

Bordatella bronchiseptica

Bordatellosis is caused by the bacterium Bordatella bronchiseptica, and can exhibit many signs of the disease. The most common are signs related to an upper respiratory infection such as cough, nasal discharge, pneumonia, fever, eye discharge, and lethargy. Vaccination for this disease is generally not recommended, but cats in shelters, multi-cat environments, and cats who travel or show make good candidates for this vaccination. Bordatella is primarily a problem for very young kittens, and appears to be uncommon in adult cats.

As with every piece of advice you read on this blog, please consult a veterinarian familiar with your pet before changing anything regarding your pet.

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