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Should I get my indoor cat vaccinated?

Should I get my indoor cat vaccinated?

It may be tempting to skip vaccinations for your indoor cat, but cat and kitten vaccines are just as important for our indoor cats as they are for cats who explore the great outdoors. Today, our Hattiesburg and Wiggins veterinarians explain why indoor cats require vaccines.

Cat Vaccines

Thousands of cats and kittens are infected with serious diseases spread by cats each year. It is critical to begin vaccinating your cat as soon as they are a few weeks old and to continue with 'booster injections' on a regular basis throughout their lives to prevent them from contracting a deadly but preventable condition.

As the name suggests, booster shots “boost” your cat’s protection against a variety of feline diseases after the effects of the initial vaccine wear off. Booster shots for cats are given on specific schedules. Your vet will advise you when to bring your cat back for their booster shots.

The Importance of Keeping Indoor Cats Vaccinated

You may not believe that your indoor cat requires vaccinations, but in many states, all cats are required by law to have certain vaccinations. Many states, for example, require cats over the age of six months to be vaccinated against rabies. After your cat has received its vaccinations, your veterinarian will provide you with a certificate indicating that it has been properly vaccinated.

Another reason to vaccinate your indoor cat is that indoor cats have a habit of sneaking out the door when their owners aren't looking. Your cat could contract one of the highly contagious viruses that cats are susceptible to with just a quick sniff around your backyard.

If your indoor cat visits a groomer or spends time in a boarding facility while you are away from home, vaccinations are essential to ensure that your pet's health is protected. There is a risk of spreading viruses wherever other cats have been, so make sure your indoor cat is protected.

'Core vaccines' and 'lifestyle vaccines' are the two types of vaccinations available for pets. Our Hattiesburg and Wiggins veterinarians strongly advise that all cats, both indoor and outdoor cats, receive core vaccinations to protect them from highly 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 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

Non-core vaccinations may benefit some cats depending on their lifestyle. The best person to tell you which non-core vaccines your cat requires is your veterinarian. Healthy-living vaccines 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

Shots for kittens - whether your kitty will live indoors or be allowed out to roam -  should be given starting at about six to eight weeks old. Following this, your cat should get a series of shots at three-to-four-week intervals until they reach about 16 weeks of age.

The recommended vaccination schedule is the same for all cats. When it comes to the distinctions between immunizing indoor cats vs. outdoor cats, it comes down to which vaccines are best suited to your cat's lifestyle. Which vaccinations your cat needs will be recommended to you by your veterinarian.

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

Depending on the vaccine, adult cats should get booster shots either annually or every three years. Your vet will tell you when to bring your adult cat back for booster shots.

Fully Vaccinated 

Until your cat has received all necessary vaccinations, they won't be fully protected (around 12 to 16 weeks old). Once your kitten has received all of their initial vaccinations, they will be protected against the diseases or conditions covered by the shots.

If you want to take your kitten outside before he or she is fully vaccinated against all of the diseases listed above, keep them in low-risk areas like your own backyard.

Side Effects From Cat Vaccines

As a result of their vaccinations, the vast majority of cats won't experience any negative side effects. Reactions, if any, are typically mild and transient. More severe reactions, like the following, can, however, only occasionally happen.

  • Lameness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Redness or swelling around the injection site
  • Hives
  • Severe lethargy
  • Fever

If you believe that your cat is experiencing side effects from a vaccine call your vet immediately! Your vet can help you determine any special care or follow-up that may be required.

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.

Is it time for your cat's shots? Contact our Hattiesburg and Wiggins vets at  today to book an appointment for your feline friend.

New Patients Welcome

Holland Veterinary Hospitals in Hattiesburg and Wiggins are accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of all animals. Get in touch today to book an appointment with our experienced vets.

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