One of the most important questions new cat owners tend to ask themselves is the difference between their kitten vaccination schedule and adult cat vaccines.
Like with our kids, starting feline vaccinations when they are young is important to ensure a long, healthy life. Those first few rounds of shots all happen within the first four months. After? Then the cat vaccine schedule can get harder to keep track of!
At Catonsville Cat Clinic, we understand your concerns, and as a veterinary practice exclusively focused on feline health since 1997, we wanted to help you make sense of the two important periods of your cat’s life. To do so, we’re sharing our expertise to guide you through your cat’s vaccination journey.
Difference Between Vaccines for Kittens and Cats
Understanding the difference between kitten and cat vaccines is crucial.
Kittens require a series of vaccinations to build immunity. Though kittens are born with some immunity from their mother’s milk, this wanes over time, leaving them vulnerable to diseases.
Adult cats won’t need vaccines as frequently as kittens, though they will still need regular booster shots to maintain protection.
A Recommended Kitten Vaccination Schedule
At Catonsville Cat Clinic, we recommend a kitten vaccination schedule that includes four essential visits. Below you’ll find a breakdown of each visit, each vaccination, and what that vaccination helps to protect against.
First Visit (6-8 Weeks)
- FVRCP Vaccine (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and Panleukopenia) – This combination vaccine protects against three highly contagious and potentially life-threatening diseases.
- Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (Feline Herpes) – Causes respiratory issues and eye infections.
- Calicivirus – Leads to upper respiratory infections and oral ulcers.
- Panleukopenia (Feline Distemper) – A severe gastrointestinal disease.
Second Visit (12 Weeks)
- FVRCP Booster – The second round of FVRCP vaccination helps reinforce your kitten’s immunity against the mentioned diseases.
- Feline Leukemia Vaccine (FeLV) – This vaccine protects against the Feline Leukemia Virus, a contagious disease that weakens the immune system and may lead to various health problems.
Third Visit (16 Weeks)
- Rabies Vaccine – Rabies is a fatal viral disease that affects both cats and humans. Vaccinating your kitten against rabies is essential for their safety and for complying with local regulations.
Six Months Visit
- Feline Leukemia Vaccine (FeLV) Booster (If Necessary) – Some kittens may require a booster for the Feline Leukemia vaccine, depending on their lifestyle and risk factors.
- Spaying or Neutering – While not a vaccine, this will be an important part of your kitten’s healthcare schedule. At six months of age, your kitten may be spayed or neutered to prevent unwanted litters and provide health benefits.
Following this vaccination schedule is crucial in building your kitten’s immunity during their vulnerable early months.
Which Vaccines Do My Cats Need Every Year?
Adult cats require annual booster shots to maintain immunity against various diseases. The specific vaccines may vary depending on your cat’s lifestyle and risk factors.
Core vaccines like FVRCP and Rabies are generally recommended, while non-core vaccines, such as Feline Leukemia, may be necessary for certain cats.
Let’s take a closer look at each vaccine and how often they are needed:
- Rabies Vaccine – The rabies vaccine is a core vaccine and is required by law in most regions. It is usually administered every one to three years, depending on local regulations and the type of vaccine used.
- Feline Panleukopenia (Distemper) Vaccine – A booster is administered one year after the last kitten shot, and then it is given every three years for adult cats.
- Feline Calicivirus Vaccine – Adult cats receive a booster one year after the last kitten shot and then every three years.
- Feline Rhinotracheitis (Feline Herpes) Vaccine – Adult cats receive a booster one year after the last kitten shot and then every three years.
- Feline Leukemia Vaccine – This is a non-core vaccine and is recommended based on your cat’s lifestyle and risk factors. If your cat is at risk, it is usually given as part of the initial kitten vaccination series, with a booster one year later. Afterward, it may be given annually or every two to three years, depending on the cat’s risk factors.
It’s essential to adhere to the recommended vaccination schedule to ensure your cat remains protected against these diseases.
Different Vaccines for Indoor and Outdoor Cats
Indoor cats are generally exposed to fewer diseases compared to outdoor cats. However, they can still be at risk for some illnesses.
Outdoor cats face more potential risks and may require additional vaccinations, such as those for Feline Leukemia and Bordetella.
Do Cat Vaccines Have Any Side Effects?
Vaccines are generally safe, but like any medical treatment, they may have some side effects. Most cats experience mild reactions, such as soreness at the injection site or mild fever.
Serious reactions are rare but possible. Rest assured, our experienced feline veterinarians closely monitor your cat after vaccinations to ensure their well-being.
Come To Catonsville Cat Clinic For Cat Vaccines
Keep your feline family safe and healthy through regular vaccinations. Our team is dedicated to providing your cat with complete and compassionate care, ensuring they lead a long, happy, and healthy life.
Contact us at Catonsville Cat Clinic to schedule your cat’s vaccination appointment today.