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Should I get my indoor cat vaccinated? Why and when to do it.

Should I get my indoor cat vaccinated? Why and when to do it.

Even if your feline friend doesn't spend any time outdoors there is still a risk of them coming into contact with an animal that may be infected with any number of serious diseases. Our Orange vets talk about the importance of having your indoor cat vaccinated and what the schedule looks like for your kitten's shots.

Cat Vaccines: What is their purpose?

Each and every year, cats all around the U.S. are afflicted by a number of serious and potentially life-threatening diseases. The worst part is that many of these conditions are entirely preventable. To protect your kitten from contracting a preventable condition, it’s critical to have them vaccinated. It’s equally imperative to follow up your kitten’s first vaccinations with regular booster shots throughout their life, even if you never intend on allowing them outside.

Booster shots are designed to continue providing your cat with a 'boost' of protection against these diseases. There are booster shots for different vaccines given on specific schedules. Your vet can provide advice on when you should bring your cat back for more booster shots.

Why do I need to vaccinate my indoor cat?

Though you may not think your indoor cat requires vaccinations, by law cats must have certain vaccinations in many states. For example, the common law requires cats over the age of 6 months to be vaccinated against rabies. In return for the vaccinations, your veterinarian will provide you with a vaccination certificate, which should be stored in a safe place.

You should always take any steps possible to help protect your cat's health. After all, they are curious by nature and won't hesitate to try to meet a new 'friend'. Our vets recommend core vaccinations for indoor cats to protect them against diseases they could be exposed to if they happen to escape the safety of your home or if an outside critter makes their way in.

Types of Cat Shots

The main two types of cat vaccinations are core and non-core vaccines. The vaccines that fall under each of these categories are as follows:

Core Vaccinations

Should be given to all cats, as they are essential for protecting them against the following common but serious feline conditions:

Rabies

Rabies kills many mammals (including humans) every year. These vaccinations are required by law for cats in most states.

Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia (FVRCP)

Typically known as the “distemper” shot, this combination vaccine protects against feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia.

Feline herpesvirus type I (FHV, FHV-1)

This highly contagious, ubiquitous virus is one major cause of upper respiratory infections. Spread through the sharing of litter trays or food bowls, inhalation of sneeze droplets or direct contact, the virus can infect cats for life. Some will continue to shed the virus, and persistent FHV infection can cause eye problems.

Non-core Vaccinations

Non-core vaccinations are appropriate for some cats depending on their lifestyle. Your vet will provide advice about which non-core vaccines your cat should have. These offer protection against:

Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia (FeLV)

These vaccines protect against viral infections that are transmitted via close contact. They are only usually recommended for cats that spend time outdoors.

Bordetella

This bacteria causes upper respiratory infections that are highly contagious. This vaccine may be recommended by your vet if you are taking your cat to a groomer or boarding kennel.

Chlamydophila felis

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that causes severe conjunctivitis. The vaccination for the infection is often included in the distemper combination vaccine.

When to Schedule Shots For Kittens

You should bring your kitten to see your vet for their first round of vaccinations when they are about six to eight weeks old. Following this, your kitten should get a series of vaccines at three-to-four-week intervals until they reach approximately 16 weeks old.

Indoor Cat Vaccination Schedule

First visit (6 to 8 weeks)

  • Review nutrition and grooming
  • Blood test for feline leukemia
  • Fecal exam for parasites
  • Vaccinations for chlamydia, calicivirus, rhinotracheitis and panleukopenia

Second visit (10 to 12 weeks)

  • Examination and external check for parasites
  • First feline leukemia vaccine
  • Booster for calicivirus rhinotracheitis, and panleukopenia

Third visit (14 to 16 weeks)

  • Rabies vaccine
  • The second feline leukemia vaccine
  • Booster for calicivirus rhinotracheitis, and panleukopenia

Will my cat or kitten need booster shots?

Once your cat has completed the initial schedule of vaccinations they will then need to continue with routine booster shots every 1 to 3 years. Your vet will tell you when to bring your adult cat back for booster shots.

Does the first round of cat shots protect my feline friend?

Until they have received all of their vaccinations (when they are about 12 to 16 weeks old), your kitten will not be fully vaccinated. Once all of their initial vaccinations have been completed, your kitten will be protected against the diseases or conditions covered by the vaccines.

If you’d like to allow your kitten outdoors before they have been vaccinated against all the diseases listed above, we recommend keeping them restricted to low-risk areas, like your own backyard.

What are the common side effects of cat vaccines?

Most cats will not experience any side effects as a result of receiving cat vaccines. If reactions do occur, they are usually minor and short in duration. However, keep these potential negative side effects in mind:

  • Lameness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Redness of swelling around the injection site
  • Hives
  • Severe lethargy
  • Fever

Call your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your cat may be experiencing side effects from a cat vaccine. They can help you determine any special care or follow-up that may be required.

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.

Do you need to schedule your furry friend for some routine preventive care? Our Orange vets are always accepting new patients, so contact our veterinary hospital today to book your pet's first appointment.

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If you are looking for a veterinarian in Orange contact us at Vet4HealthyPet Animal Hospital today, to schedule your cat or dog's first appointment! Our vets are passionate about what they do and always provide the best possible veterinary care.

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