Some people might think about not giving their indoor cats vaccinations. But it's really important to know that indoor cats need vaccines, just like outdoor cats do. The veterinarians at Gilbert explain why indoor cats should get vaccines.
Vaccinating your cat is essential when they are just a few weeks old. You should keep up with regular booster injections throughout their lives to protect them from severe illnesses that cats can pass on. Booster shots help strengthen your cat's immune system against different feline diseases once the initial vaccine's effects fade.
Your veterinarian will give you a schedule for booster shots, so be sure to follow their guidance and take your cat for their shots at the right times.
The Importance of Keeping Indoor Cats Vaccinated
You might not think your indoor cat needs shots, but it's important to know that some shots are a must in many states. For example, in many places, cats older than 6 months must get a rabies shot. After your vet gives your cat the shot, they'll give you a paper that says your cat is all good.
Another good reason to get your indoor cat shots is because they like to sneak outside sometimes. If they take a quick trip to your yard, they could catch a sickness from other cats.
If your indoor cat ever goes to a pet hotel or gets groomed while you're away, getting them the right shots is super important. There's always a chance they could get sick from other cats, so you want to make sure they're protected.
There are two kinds of shots for pets: "core shots" and "lifestyle shots." Our vets at Gilbert say it's best for all cats, whether they stay inside or go outside, to get core shots. This helps keep them safe from really contagious diseases.
Core Vaccines for Cats
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) - This combination vaccine protects against feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia and is commonly referred to as the "distemper" shot.
- Feline herpesvirus type I (FHV, FHV-1) - One of the most common causes of upper respiratory infections is this highly contagious and widespread virus. The virus can infect cats for life if they share litter trays or food bowls, inhale or sneeze droplets, or come into direct contact. Some people will continue to shed the virus, and FHV infection can cause vision problems.
Lifestyle (Non-Core) Cat Vaccines
Some cats, depending on their lifestyle, may benefit from non-core vaccinations. Your veterinarian is the best person to tell you which non-core vaccines your cat needs. Vaccines for a healthy lifestyle protect against:
- Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia (Felv) - These vaccines protect against viral infections spread through close contact. They're usually only recommended for cats who spend a lot of time outside.
- Bordetella - This bacteria causes highly contagious upper respiratory infections. If you're taking your cat to a groomer or boarding kennel, your vet may recommend this vaccine.
- Chlamydophila felis - Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that causes severe conjunctivitis. The vaccination for the infection is often included in the distemper combination vaccine.
Indoor Cat Vaccination Schedule
Giving shots to kittens is important, whether they will stay inside or go outside. You should start giving them shots when they are about six to eight weeks old. After that, your cat needs to get shots every three to four weeks until they are about 16 weeks old.
The recommended vaccination schedule is the same for all cats. The difference comes in when deciding which vaccines are right for your cat's lifestyle, whether they are indoors or outdoors. Your vet will tell you which vaccines your cat should get.
When To Get Your Kitten Their Shots
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 (12 weeks)
- Examination and external check for parasites
- First feline leukemia vaccine
- Second vaccinations for calicivirus rhinotracheitis, and panleukopenia
- First feline leukemia vaccine
Third visit (follow veterinarian's advice)
- Rabies vaccine
- Second feline leukemia vaccine
Booster Shots for Cats
Adult cats should receive booster shots either every year or every three years, depending on the vaccine. Your vet will inform you about when to schedule these booster shots for your adult cat.
Remember that your cat won't be fully vaccinated until they get all their shots, usually when they're 12 to 16 weeks old. After your kitten gets all their first shots, they should be safe from the diseases the vaccines protect against. If you can't wait to take your kitten outside before they're fully vaccinated, keeping them in safe places like your backyard is a good idea.
Side Effects From Cat Vaccines
The vast majority of cats will have no negative side effects as a result of their vaccinations. If there are any reactions, they are usually minor and short-lived. However, in rare instances, more severe reactions can occur, such as:
- Loss of appetite
- Redness or swelling around the injection site
- Severe lethargy
If you suspect that your cat is experiencing any adverse reactions to a vaccine, it's best to contact your veterinarian right away. They can provide you with guidance on any necessary follow-up or special care.
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.