Cat Vaccinations

It is a fact that cat vaccinations save feline lives.

Protecting your cat against a range of feline diseases and illness is one of the best things you can do for her.

Vaccination is an essential part of cat care, it is a preventative action that rewards you with the knowledge that you are likely to enjoy the company of your pet for many years to come.

A vaccine will contain antigens. Antigens have the appearance of a specific disease organism, but do not cause that disease.

When these antigens are introduced into the cat’s body, the cat’s immune system goes into action because it thinks it is under attack.

The immune system learns from the experience, and if in the future the cat ever comes under attack from real organisms of that specific disease, its immune system is already organized to recognize and repel them.

When Is It Best To Start Cat Vaccinations?

Start protecting your pet when she is a kitten.

A vet will usually administer the first vaccine shots when the kitten is about six to eight weeks.

Before then the kitten will have been obtaining antibodies that help guard against infections, from her mother’s milk.

The first set of shots may be administered earlier than six weeks if the kitten was orphaned, or weaned early for some other reason.

The kitten is given additional sets of shots at intervals of three to four weeks until the age of sixteen weeks or so.

Cat Vaccinations – Frequency

How often your cat is vaccinated after her series of kitten shots is best determined by your veterinarian.

vet and cat

Many factors will be taken into account including, the diseases your cat is being vaccinated against, state laws and the manufacturer of the vaccines’ guidelines.

Also the general health of your cat will be considered along with his or her age, and whether your cat comes into contact with other cats or not.

Your cat will receive a feline rabies booster one year after her kitten rabies shot.

Until relatively recently, most vets gave all cats booster shots of most vaccines annually.

Today many, but not all, feline vaccines give protection for three years.

It may be that your cat will be scheduled for some cat vaccinations every year and others every three years.

Which Diseases Will My Cat Be Protected Against?

Again, the veterinarian will take all factors into consideration when deciding which vaccines your cat needs.

Here are some of the most usual.


Your cat will almost certainly be vaccinated against rabies, it is required by law in most states.

Rabies is a deadly disease spread by bites and other wounds from infected cats. The disease is of great concern, not only because it is fatal for the animal, but also because it can be passed to humans.

Panleukopenia (AKA Feline Distemper.)

All cats are at risk from this highly contagious disease particularly in warm climates. Kittens and un-vaccinated cats that roam are the most vulnerable. Senior cats may possibly develop immunity to the virus.

Cat Leukemia (FeLV)

Transmission of this deadly viral infection is usually by direct contact with an infected cat. Your vet will recommend FeLV vaccination if your cat is at any risk at all of exposure to the virus.

FIV (Feline Aids)

A vaccine is available to protect against some strains of feline immunodeficiency virus, however it does not protect against all strains.

If an FIV free cat is vaccinated with the FIV vaccine and sometime later is tested for the virus, the test will show positive, (a false positive.) For these reasons it is often recommended that a cat is tested and only given the vaccine if negative, and that the cat is then Microchipped to show she has received the FIV vaccine.


There is a vaccine available that reduces the effects of ringworm, but your veterinarian is not likely to recommend it unless there is a specific need. The ringworm vaccine may be recommended if you have a recurring problem in a household with many cats, or the household has a human with a decreased immune system.

Do Cat Vaccinations Present A Risk To My Cat?

There is a degree of risk in everything. A drive to the store to buy groceries, cooking a meal, crossing the street, all of these involve a degree of risk. But if you know what you are doing and act responsibly the risk is a small one.

The risk involved in vaccinating a cat is extremely small; the benefits gained far out weigh that tiny risk.

Your veterinarian will take into account your cat’s age, present condition, medical history and lifestyle when deciding on which vaccines are appropriate for your cat and the best way to administer them.

Mild reaction to cat vaccinations is not uncommon. These reactions typically occur soon after the vaccine is administered and remain usually no more than a few days.

Soreness or redness around the area of injection.

Loss of appetite.

Inactivity and/or sluggishness.


Mild fever.

As stated the above reactions to vaccines are common, but if any give you cause for concern contact your veterinarian for advice.

Rarer, but more serious reactions include:


A painful swelling or lump.




Persistent diarrhea.

If your cat or kitten has any of the above reactions, or suffers any adverse effect from the vaccine, call your vet immediately.

The extremely rare occurrences of adverse reaction to cat vaccinations should not deter you from protecting your pet. The diseases that an un-vaccinated cat is at risk from can be far worse than the very small chance of a bad side effect.

This page is informational only and was not written by a veterinarian.

> > Cat Vaccinations.