What Vaccinations Do Cats Need?

Cats are more than just pets; they’re family. And like any member of the family, we want to keep them healthy and safe. That’s where vaccinations come in. Just as we need shots to protect against certain diseases, so do our feline friends.

But what vaccinations do cats actually need? It can be a daunting question for new cat owners or even seasoned ones who may not know all the ins and outs of feline health. In this blog post, we’ll explore the world of cat vaccinations and provide you with all the information you need to keep your furry friend protected.

What Vaccinations Do Cats Need-2

We’ll start by breaking down the essential vaccines that every cat should receive, including protection against rabies, feline leukemia, and distemper. We’ll also explain why annual vaccinations are necessary for maintaining your cat’s immunity and overall wellbeing.

And don’t worry – we know that taking your cat to get vaccinated can be stressful for both you and your furry friend. So we’ll give you some tips on what to expect during the process and how to make it as smooth as possible.

Whether you’re a first-time cat owner or a seasoned pro, this blog post will provide valuable information on what vaccinations your cats need for optimal health. So sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of feline vaccinations together.

What Vaccinations Do Cats Need?

One of the most crucial steps you can take is to provide them with the necessary vaccinations. By doing so, you can safeguard your cat against a range of diseases that can be fatal or cause severe health complications.

There are two types of vaccinations that cats need: core vaccinations and non-core vaccinations. Core vaccinations are considered essential for all cats, regardless of their lifestyle or environment. These include vaccines for feline viral rhinotracheitis (herpesvirus-1), calicivirus, and panleukopenia, which are often combined into one injection known as the FVRCP vaccine. This vaccine offers protection against respiratory infections that are common in cats and also helps prevent the spread of these diseases to other cats.

Another critical vaccination that your cat should receive is for rabies. This disease is fatal and can also be transmitted to humans; hence it’s crucial that your cat is vaccinated against it. Depending on where you live, there may be other vaccinations recommended for your cat, such as those for feline leukemia virus or bordetella (kennel cough).

Kittens require a series of vaccinations during their first year of life to ensure they are fully protected against these diseases. After that, they will typically only need booster shots every few years to maintain their immunity. It’s vital to consult with your veterinarian to determine which vaccines your cat needs based on their individual needs.

Core Vaccinations for Cats

And one of the most important things you can do to ensure their health and well-being is to provide them with the necessary vaccinations. Among all the options available, the core vaccinations are crucial for protecting your cat against some of the most common and deadly diseases they could contract.

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) recommends that all cats receive core vaccinations, regardless of their lifestyle or environment. These vaccinations are called “core” because they are considered necessary for all cats.

There are three core vaccinations for cats that every pet owner should be aware of:

  • Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR): This is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the feline herpesvirus. Symptoms include sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge, and conjunctivitis. FVR can lead to more serious health problems such as pneumonia and bronchitis.
  • Feline Calicivirus (FCV): This is another highly contagious respiratory disease that can cause similar symptoms to FVR. FCV can also cause ulcers in the mouth and tongue, which can make it difficult for cats to eat and drink.
  • Feline Panleukopenia (FPV): This viral disease attacks rapidly dividing cells in the body, including those in the bone marrow and intestines. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and dehydration. FPV is often fatal, especially in young kittens.

The FVRCP vaccine is typically given as a combination vaccine to protect against these three core diseases. Kittens should receive this vaccine starting at around 6-8 weeks of age and then again every 3-4 weeks until they are 16 weeks old. Adult cats should receive a booster vaccine every 1-3 years to maintain their immunity.

It’s important to keep in mind that while these vaccines are considered necessary for all cats, there may be some exceptions based on a cat’s individual health status or lifestyle. For instance, outdoor cats may require additional vaccinations to protect against diseases such as feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and rabies.

Non-Core Vaccinations for Cats

Every cat has their own unique personality and lifestyle, which means their risk factors for certain diseases can vary greatly. This is where non-core vaccinations come into play. While not considered essential for every cat, they can be crucial for protecting your furry friend’s health and well-being.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the non-core vaccinations that your cat may benefit from:

  • Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) Vaccine: FeLV is a highly contagious virus that can be transmitted between cats through close contact. If your cat spends time outdoors or lives with other cats, they may be at higher risk of exposure to FeLV. The FeLV vaccine can help protect your cat from this deadly disease.
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) Vaccine: FIV is a viral infection that attacks the immune system of cats, making them more susceptible to other infections. If your cat goes outdoors and is at higher risk of fighting with other cats, they may benefit from the FIV vaccine.
  • Chlamydia Vaccine: Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that can cause conjunctivitis in cats. This vaccine is recommended for cats that live in multi-cat households or catteries where there is a higher risk of the disease spreading.
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica Vaccine: This vaccine protects against respiratory infections in cats, particularly those caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria. It may be recommended for cats that live in shelters or catteries where there is a higher risk of respiratory infections spreading.

It’s important to remember that not all cats require these non-core vaccinations. Your cat’s individual needs and lifestyle should be taken into consideration when making the decision to administer these vaccines. That’s why it’s crucial to consult with your veterinarian to determine which vaccines are necessary for your furry friend’s health and safety.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Vaccines for Your Cat

Vaccinations are critical in preventing a range of harmful diseases, but not all vaccines are created equal. Choosing the right vaccines for your cat can seem overwhelming, but by considering these factors, you can make an informed decision.

Age and Lifestyle

Just like humans, cats have different needs based on their age and lifestyle. Kittens require a series of vaccinations to protect them from common diseases like feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus. Adult cats, however, may only need to be vaccinated against certain diseases based on their lifestyle. For example, if your cat spends time outdoors or around other cats, they may need to be vaccinated against diseases like feline leukemia virus and bordetella.

Prevalence of Diseases in Your Area

The types of diseases that are prevalent in one region may differ from those in another. So, it’s important to consider the prevalence of certain diseases in your area when choosing vaccines for your cat. If you live in an area where Lyme disease is common in cats, vaccinating your cat against this disease may be necessary.

Risks and Benefits

While vaccines can protect your cat from serious diseases, they can also have side effects like fever and swelling at the injection site. Discussing these risks with your veterinarian and weighing them against the benefits of each vaccine is crucial.


Vaccines can be costly, especially if you have multiple cats or need to get your cat vaccinated regularly. However, the cost of vaccination is often much lower than the cost of treating a serious disease that could have been prevented with a vaccine.

How Often Should You Vaccinate Your Cat?

One crucial aspect of your cat’s well-being is ensuring they receive the proper vaccinations to protect them against harmful diseases. But with so many vaccines and schedules to consider, it can be overwhelming to navigate. Fear not, we’ve got the scoop on how often you should vaccinate your cat.

First and foremost, it’s essential to follow the vaccination schedule recommended by your veterinarian. Kittens should receive their first round of vaccines at approximately 6-8 weeks of age, followed by boosters every 3-4 weeks until they’re around 16 weeks old. This helps build up their immunity while their immune system is still developing. Adult cats should then receive booster shots every 1-3 years, depending on their lifestyle and risk factors.

The core vaccines that all cats should receive include feline panleukopenia (feline distemper), feline calicivirus, and feline herpesvirus. These vaccines protect against serious and highly contagious diseases that can be fatal for cats.

However, other vaccines may be recommended based on your cat’s age, lifestyle, and risk factors. For instance, if your cat loves spending time outdoors, they may require additional vaccines to protect them from diseases such as FeLV and FIV. Likewise, cats who frequently interact with other cats in boarding facilities or shows may also benefit from additional vaccinations.

It’s important to keep in mind that vaccines may have side effects, although severe reactions are uncommon. Your veterinarian can help you weigh the benefits and risks of each vaccine and determine the best vaccination schedule for your cat. Regular check-ups with your vet can ensure that your cat stays up-to-date on vaccinations and receives any necessary boosters.

Benefits of Keeping Your Cat Up-to-Date on Their Vaccinations

One of the most vital steps towards achieving this goal is to keep your cat up-to-date on their vaccinations. Vaccines offer a wealth of benefits that go beyond simply protecting your cat from various diseases that can cause severe illnesses or even death. By getting your cat vaccinated, you also safeguard other pets and humans from potential disease transmission.

Prevention is the first and most significant benefit of keeping your cat up-to-date on their vaccinations. Vaccines prevent diseases from spreading and protect your cat from contracting them in the first place. For example, the Feline Distemper vaccine guards against a virus that can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and even death. The Feline Herpesvirus vaccine shields against upper respiratory infections that can cause sneezing, coughing, fever, and eye discharge.

Besides prevention, vaccinations are also a cost-effective solution. While vaccines may seem pricey, they are much cheaper than treating a sick cat with a disease that could have been prevented with a vaccine. Treating a sick cat can cost thousands of dollars in veterinary bills, medications, and hospitalization. In contrast, investing in vaccines can save you money in the long run while keeping your cat in excellent health.

Moreover, keeping your cat up-to-date on their vaccinations protects human health as well. Some diseases that cats can contract, such as Rabies, can be transmitted to humans through bites or scratches. By vaccinating your cat against Rabies, you not only protect them but also yourself and others.

In addition to Rabies, some diseases that cats can carry include Toxoplasmosis and Cat Scratch Fever. By vaccinating your cat against these diseases, you can reduce the risk of transmission to humans.

Potential Side Effects of Vaccinating Your Cat

Vaccinating your cat is a crucial step in achieving this goal. However, it’s vital to understand the potential side effects that may occur after vaccination.

One of the most common side effects of cat vaccinations is fever. This is a natural response as the vaccine stimulates the immune system. While fever usually subsides on its own within a day or two, it’s essential to monitor your cat closely. If the fever persists or if your cat shows signs of lethargy or loss of appetite, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Allergic reactions are another possible side effect of cat vaccinations. These reactions can range from mild itching or swelling at the injection site to life-threatening symptoms like difficulty breathing or anaphylactic shock. Although rare, it’s crucial to keep a close eye on your cat and seek veterinary attention immediately if any concerning symptoms arise.

Cats may also experience local reactions at the injection site, such as pain, swelling, or redness. While these symptoms are usually mild and resolve within a few days, don’t hesitate to contact your vet if they persist or if your cat seems uncomfortable.

Severe reactions like seizures or neurological symptoms are rare but require prompt medical attention. As a responsible pet owner, it’s essential to discuss any concerns you have with your veterinarian and make informed decisions about which vaccines are appropriate for your cat based on their lifestyle and health status.

Also Read: What Kind Of Shots Do Cats Need?


In conclusion, vaccinations are a vital component in safeguarding the health and wellbeing of our feline companions. Both core and non-core vaccines are necessary to protect cats from a variety of illnesses that can be fatal or cause severe health complications. Core vaccines, such as those that guard against rabies, feline leukemia, and distemper, are considered essential for all cats. Non-core vaccines may be required based on individual needs and lifestyle.

It’s crucial to adhere to the vaccination schedule recommended by your veterinarian and ensure your cat receives regular booster shots to stay up-to-date on their vaccinations. Vaccines not only prevent the spread of diseases but also offer cost-effective solutions in preventing expensive veterinary bills associated with treating sick cats.

While there may be potential side effects associated with vaccinations, such as fever or allergic reactions, these risks are minimal compared to the benefits of keeping your cat protected from harmful diseases. By vaccinating your cat, you not only safeguard their health but also protect other pets and humans from potential disease transmission.

Whether you’re a first-time cat owner or an experienced one, it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian to determine which vaccines are necessary for your furry friend’s optimal health and wellbeing.