Cat in a girl's arms outside

Cat Vaccination Essentials

When it comes to vaccinating your cat, there are a few common questions. What vaccines do cats need? When is the best time to get them vaccinated? What are the benefits? Don’t worry if you feel a little overwhelmed at the prospect of dealing with vaccinating your cat. We’re happy to help!

Why is it important to vaccinate your cat?

Cats, especially young cats, are susceptible to a number of diseases. Vaccines help protect against these diseases by building up your cat’s immunity. When cats are vaccinated, they are injected with a “dead” or “modified live” form of the virus. This introduces their body to the disease without the risk of actually getting sick from it. Ultimately, this helps to protect them by priming their immune system to fight off the disease if they ever encounter it in the real world.

What diseases are cats vaccinated against?

There are a number of diseases that vaccines can help protect your cat from including:

Panleukopenia (also called feline distemper) - is the most common and deadly disease in unvaccinated kittens. It is a highly contagious virus that attacks the gastrointestinal tract, lymph nodes, and bone marrow.

Rhinotracheitis - this is a herpesvirus that can cause upper respiratory infections

Calicivirus - this is the most common cause of upper respiratory infections in cats

Rabies - this is fatal and all mammals, including humans, are susceptible to infection. Rabies vaccinations for cats are required by law in most states.

Depending on your cat’s lifestyle, they may also need to be vaccinated against:

Feline leukemia virus (outdoor cats)

Bordetella (cats that go to boarding facilities or groomers)

Cat laying on its back in a girls lap

When is the best time to get your cat vaccinated?

The core vaccines are typically given to kittens between six and eight weeks old. This is when they are most vulnerable to disease, and the vaccines will be most effective. Supplemental vaccines are given at eight, twelve, and sixteen weeks of age.

What vaccines does a cat need?

FVRCP is the core vaccine for cats. This vaccine protects against three diseases: feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR), feline calicivirus (FCV), and feline panleukopenia (FPV). Your cat will need this vaccine every year.

Additionally, the rabies vaccine is required by law in some states. Most cats will also need a vaccine for feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).

Where can I get my cat vaccinated?

Any vet's office or clinic should be able to provide vaccinations for your cat. Additionally, you could bring your cat to one of our pet vaccination clinics. We host these regularly at most of our locations. Or, if you're comfortable administering the vaccines yourself, you may be able to buy the core vaccines at your local feed store.

How much does it cost to vaccinate a cat?

Vaccinations cost around $30 per treatment. 

This affordability makes vaccinating your cat a no-brainer!

But what about the side effects of vaccines?

Most cats will have no reaction to the vaccine. A small minority of cats (less than one percent) may experience a mild allergic reaction, which is usually treated with antihistamines. In extremely rare cases, a cat may develop an autoimmune disease after being vaccinated.

The bottom line is that the benefits of vaccinating your cat far outweigh the risks. Cat and kitten vaccines are safe, they’re effective, and they could save your cat's life.