Becker Animal Hospital | Cat Vaccinations
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Cat Vaccinations

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Overview: There are two vaccination protocols for cats; the first is for indoor cats and the second is an additional set of shots for cats that go outside. All cats, indoor or outdoor, should be minimally vaccinated with the Feline Distemper and Rabies vaccine. The Feline Distemper vaccine consists of: Feline Herpes/Rhinotracheitis virus, Feline Calicivirus, Panleukopenia virus and the Feline Chlamydia bacteria. The Rabies shot is given separately by itself and initially is good for one year with subsequent shots being effective for three years.

The additional shots for cats that go outdoors consist of Feline Leukemia Virus, Feline AIDs virus and Feline Infectious Peritonitis virus. These viruses are transmitted by direct cat-to-cat contact and in some cases even by sharing food and water bowls, which is why cats that go outdoors should have these vaccines, as contact with other cats is virtually inevitable.

Indoor Cats: For indoor-only cats that never go outside and that are not exposed to any other cat that is going in and out of the house, your cat should have a Distemper and Rabies vaccine. The distemper vaccine is composed of four diseases and is given yearly after the kitten vaccine series and is composed of the Feline Herpes/Rhinotracheitis, Feline Calicivirus, Panleukopenia virus, Feline Chlamydia bacteria. The Feline Rhino and Calici viruses are upper respiratory diseases that are clinically often indistinguishable and cause fever, sneezing and inappetence. The Calici virus can result in severe ulceration of the tongue and lips of the cat. These diseases can be severe and even indoor-only cats often find a way to contract these and if they are not vaccinated, they can become very ill. The Panleukopenia virus is an intestinal virus of cats and is a Parvo virus. We don’t see this as often as the respiratory viruses but when cats get them, they are often very sick. Feline Chlamydia is a bacteria-like organism that primarily infects the eyes of cats and causes some upper-respiratory problems. Small sick kittens often have this and will present with infected and draining eyes. Tetracycline eye ointment is the treatment of choice. All of these illnesses may require IV antibiotic and fluid treatment or at least antibiotics at home.

The Indoor Cat Shots Consist of:

The Distemper Shot for your Cat and Protects Against…

  • Panleukopenia virus
  • Calici virus
  • Rhinotracheitis virus
  • Chlamydia bacteria

And the Rabies Vaccine which protects against…

  • Rabies virus

Outdoor Cats: Outdoor cats should receive the same vaccines as above for the indoor cat in addition to three other vaccines that are contracted only by cat to cat direct contact. These are the Feline Leukemia Virus, Feline Aids virus and the Feline Infectious Peritonitis virus, referred to as FiP. All three of these are most commonly transmitted by the bite of an infected cat. As pet owners, we may never see the bite but the transmission of these deadly viruses can occur and we may not know it until months later. Weight loss, lethargy and a debilitated appearance can indicate that your outdoor cat may have contracted one of these diseases. We have an excellent test for the Feline Leukemia and Feline AIDs viruses that can be run right in the office while you wait and it also tests for feline heartworms. FIP virus is very difficult to test for and is typically diagnosed by ruling out all other diseases while the patient has either a chronically wasting condition or a collection of fluid in the abdomen. Feline Leukemia and FIP infections are usually rapidly fatal. Cats with the AIDS virus may be able to live a little bit better but it is also many times fatal. These diseases could be transmitted through a food bowl, water bowl or litter box, but the viruses in the open air are typically very short lived and die within seconds. The Feline AIDs virus has no relation to the human AIDs virus and none of these feline diseases are thought to have any effect on people.

We do have vaccines to protect against Feline Leukemia, Feline AIDs and FIP virus and we strongly encourage all pet owners who have a cat who is outside or goes outside, to be vaccinated and protected against these diseases. After the initial series, boosters are given once a year. Cats that are vaccinated for Feline AIDs will afterwards test positive on a Feline AIDs test but only from the vaccine not from the actual disease. Because of this we recommend that your cat be tested for the Leukemia/AIDs virus before administering the vaccine and we can do this testing in our office, while you wait.

The Outdoor Cat Shots Consist of the Above Distemper and Rabies shots in addition to shots that protect against…

  • Feline Leukemia virus
  • Feline AIDs virus
  • FIP virus

Important Dates for Cat Shots/Vaccinations:

  • Your cat should be given its vaccinations at around six to eight weeks of age.
  • Booster shots should be given to your cat every twenty-one days until it is four months old for a total of three or four vaccine sets.
  • The Rabies vaccine can be given at three months of age and is good for one year with subsequent rabies shots good for three years of immunity after that.
  • Heartworm medicine can be started as early as eight weeks of age and is given monthly for life. We recommend Revolution by Pfizer Co. It is applied topically on the neck of the cat once a month and protects against heartworms and kills fleas, ear mites and sarcoptic mange. This is an excellent product for cats that go outside.

For more information on vaccines/shots for your cat, please feel free to contact us, or stop by our office.