What exactly are cat vaccinations?

Cat vaccinations are when we give your kitten or your cat injections, and these injections are tiny amounts of a piece of a virus that stimulate an immune response so that if your cat is exposed to this disease, they're able to mount an immune response so that they would not get the disease.

Dr. Michele Drake
The Drake Center

Are cat vaccines necessary?

Yes, cat vaccines are essential. When I was in veterinary school, there were massive amounts of feline leukemia and even feline AIDS. Unfortunately, we don't have a vaccine for the latter, but we saw a ton of Feline Leukemia. It's a horrible disease for a cat to get, and generally, it's very unpleasant and eventually fatal for them. Vaccines are vital so that your fur baby never has to be exposed to these horrible diseases.

What cat vaccinations are typically recommended, and what are they for?

So the most common cat vaccines are the FeLV, which is for feline leukemia. That's a core vaccine. We want every cat to have that vaccine and FVRCP, primarily the feline rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia. These viruses are very predominant, and we just want to make sure that your cat's not exposed to them.

What is the vaccination schedule for kittens versus adult cats and senior cats?

For kittens, we're going to generally do a series of vaccines. Most of the vaccines are a series of two, sometimes three, depending on the kitten's age, and we're going to include FVRCP, Leukemia, and Rabies. I didn't mention that before, but Rabies is extremely important for cats also.

Are there risks or side effects associated with cat vaccinations?

Some cats can be a little bit lethargic. There's an extremely rare case of anaphylaxis, in which the cat collapses. I can't say that I've seen one in the last 20 years, and there have been some rare instances with older vaccines. Cats used to be prone to getting a type of sarcoma at the vaccine site, but I believe that all the vaccine companies have done such great jobs in making sure this doesn't happen anymore because I just never see it. Side effects are rare, and the potential for these diseases is truly great if we don't vaccinate. So for that reason, the vaccine way outweighs any potential complication.

If my cat is going to be strictly living indoors, do they still need to be vaccinated?

Yeah. We highly recommend that cats have the core vaccines when they're kittens, and then if somebody moves into a high rise or something and they want to just stick with rabies and FVRCP, that's fine. But, for the most part, we just find that things change over a matter of a cat's life over 15 years, and where you were in a high rise before, and now you live outside, and you haven't thought about it, now you're exposing a cat that has a sort of a virgin immune system. If they get exposed, they're going to be at high risk. So we recommend that everybody keeps up on the core vaccines regardless because we have found so many instances where these animals wind up having a lifestyle change and are getting out accidentally, and then they are exposed.

Why is it important to avoid missing a cat vaccination?

Your cats are not vaccinated if they miss their vaccines, and we believe that vaccines are crucial for preventing terrible diseases. So we don't want you missing any vaccine.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (760) 456-9556, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.

Cat Vaccination FAQs

Dr. Michele Drake
The Drake Center

Is it safe to get multiple cat vaccinations at the same time?

Yes, it is safe. And because I know most cats don't enjoy car rides very much, the preference is to go ahead and get them all at one time. A rare cat doesn't feel well after a vaccine, just like a person who receives a flu vaccine. And in those instances, we can discuss splitting them apart, but I think that the benefits of getting them all done at one time for a cat way outweigh the multiple trips that would be required for them to come in.

Once my cat is vaccinated, will they need boosters?

Yes, your cat will need boosters. So when kittens come to us, we're going to give them a series of kitten boosters because they need more to mount that long-term immune response. But then after that, cats are going to be vaccinated annually. Certain vaccines are annual, and we can spread some out as they age a little bit, but for the most part, every cat needs to come into the veterinary office at least once a year to have an update of their vaccine. Cats also require a health assessment and parasite control, and so many other things that it's vital to come once a year.

What should I do if I miss my cat's vaccine due date?

Don't worry; just make the appointment and get in as soon as you can.

If my cat is vaccinated, is it safe to be around other animals that are not vaccinated?

Yes, that's the purpose of vaccines—so cats can be exposed and have no risk. Even if your cat had a tussle with a raccoon or something, and that raccoon had rabies, if your cat is vaccinated, they will be able to mount an immune response and not get rabies. So that’s why it’s essential to keep up on it.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (760) 456-9556, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.