What are cat vaccinations?

They are something that we give the animal to help stimulate their immune system and to help fight diseases so that they can fend off anything they come into contact with.

Dr. Becka Byrd
Northern Oaks Bird and Animal Hospital

Why are cat vaccinations necessary, especially if my cat's going to be an indoor cat?

In their first year of life, cats are especially susceptible to certain diseases. These even include leukemia and certain things they can come in contact with just from being in contact with objects other cats come in contact with. So if you are feeding any kitties or if you pet other kitties that may have these diseases, we want to ensure that these babies are well protected. Leukemia is even considered a core vaccine for the first year of life, whether cats are going to be indoors or outdoors. Rabies, in most states, is required by law. In Texas, for instance, it is required by law, and we won't even touch a cat in our hospital without it having a rabies vaccination for the safety of our staff. There are quite a few cat vaccinations. The FVRCP is the one for feline viral diseases, including respiratory diseases, Calicivirus, and panleukopenia, which can affect their ability to fight any disease. There's rabies, of course, which is an incurable viral disease, feline leukemia, and also FIP, Feline Infectious Peritonitis, which we don't vaccinate for. That's a disease that some kitties will just develop over time. There used to be a vaccine for it, but nobody uses it anymore because it was proven ineffective.

Kittens are vaccinated starting around six weeks, and we vaccinate every three weeks until they're 16 weeks old because that's when their own body can hold the immunity and have it last for at least a year. As adults, we may extend that schedule up to every three years, depending on the vaccine used. In our practice, we use non-adjuvanted vaccines, which are vaccines that have not been linked to a risk of increased cancer. So for safety margins, we will always continue to use the non-adjuvanted vaccines in cats, but that also means we will give some of these vaccines yearly rather than every three years because they don't last as long. We would always rather err on the safe side than on the side of an extended vaccine margin. We don't want to miss any vaccines because we think that's really important. We want to keep these guys safe and make sure that our cats will last as long as their life allows them. Thank you for joining me today.

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