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Why Should I Vaccinate My Indoor Cat?

Why Should I Vaccinate My Indoor Cat?

In this blog, our Houston County vets share the reasons why your indoor cat should be vaccinated as well as the vaccination schedule.

Cat Vaccinations

There are a handful of Feline-specific diseases that affect many cats each year. In order to keep your cat safe against preventable conditions, it's best to get them vaccinated. It’s just as essential to follow up your kitten’s first vaccinations with regular booster shots, even if you plan on them being an indoor pet.

The appropriately titled booster shots “boost” your kitty's protection against a range of feline diseases once the effects of the initial vaccine wear off. There are booster shots for different vaccines given on specific schedules. Your vet can provide you with advice on when you should bring your cat back for more booster shots.

Why Your Indoor Cat Should Be Vaccinated

Many people think they don't have to get their indoor cats vaccinated however, by law in most states, cats have to receive certain vaccinations. An example of these laws is that many places require cats over the age of 6 months to be vaccinated against rabies. In return for the vaccinations, your veterinarian will provide you with a vaccination certificate, which should be stored in a safe place.

When taking the health of your adorable kitty into consideration, it’s always best to be cautious, as cats are often curious by nature. Our vets recommend core vaccinations for indoor cats to protect them against diseases they could be exposed to if they happen to escape the safety of your home.

Vaccines For Cats

There are two basic types of vaccinations available 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:


Every year rabies kills many mammals (including people). These vaccinations are required by law for cats in most states.

Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia (FVRCP)
Often referred to as the “distemper” shot, this combination vaccine protects against feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia.

Feline herpesvirus type I (FHV, FHV-1)

This highly contagious, ubiquitous virus is one major cause of upper respiratory infections. Cats can get it by sharing litter trays or food bowls, inhaling sneeze droplets, or through direct contact with an infected cat, this virus can infect cats for life. Some will keep shedding the virus, and persistent FHV infection can cause eye problems.

Non-core vaccinations are appropriate for some cats depending on their lifestyle. Your vet will provide advice about which non-core vaccines your cat should have. These offer protection against:

Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia (Felv)

These vaccines protect against viral infections that are transmitted via close contact. Typically, they are only recommended for cats that spend time outdoors.


This bacteria causes highly contagious, upper respiratory infections. Your vet may recommend this vaccine if you are taking your cat to a groomer or boarding kennel.

Chlamydophila felis

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that causes severe conjunctivitis. The vaccination for the infection is often included in the distemper combination vaccine.

When Should My Kitten Receive Their First Shots?

Your kitten should see your vet for their first round of vaccinations when they are approximately six to eight weeks old. After this, your kitten should receive a series of vaccines in intervals of three to four weeks until they are about 16 weeks old.

Kitten Vaccination Schedule

First visit (6 to 8 weeks)

  • Vaccinations for chlamydia, calicivirus, rhinotracheitis and panleukopenia
  • Fecal exam for parasites
  • Blood test for feline leukemia
  • Review nutrition and grooming

Second visit (12 weeks)

  • First feline leukemia vaccine
  • Examination and external check for parasites
  • Second vaccinations for calicivirus rhinotracheitis, and panleukopenia

Third visit (follow veterinarian’s advice)

  • Rabies vaccine
  • Second feline leukemia vaccine

Why Cat Booster Shots are Recommended 

Adult cats should get booster shots either annually or every three years, depending on the specific vaccines. Your vet will let you know when you should be bringing your adult cat back for their booster shots.

Your Kitten's Protection After Their First Round of Shots

Your kitten won't be fully vaccinated or protected until they have been given all of their vaccinations (when they are about 12 to 16 weeks old). After all of their initial vaccinations have been administered, your kitty will be protected against the diseases or conditions covered by the vaccines.

If you want to let your furry friend outdoors before they have been vaccinated against all the diseases listed above, we suggest keeping them restricted to low-risk areas, such as your own backyard.

Possible Side Effects of Cat Vaccinations

The majority of cats don't usually develop any side effects after receiving a vaccination. When reactions do arise, they are generally mild and don't last long. Here, is a list of some of the most common vaccine side effects in cats: 

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

Do you think your cat may be having a reaction or side effect to one of their vaccines? Contact your vet immediately for advice. Your veterinarian will be able to inform you if your kitty requires an examination or follow-up care.

Don's hesitate to contact our Houston County vets today to schedule an appointment if it's time to have your indoor cat vaccinated.

New Patients Welcome

Smith Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Houston County companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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