What Vaccinations Does My Cat Really Need?

Jerry WalchStarred Page By Jerry Walch, 1st Jan 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Pets>Cats

Do you know what vaccines are essential to your little fur baby's well-being and which are not? You need to be an informed pet parent because all the vaccines pushed on you by a veterinarian are not only not needed, some can even endanger your loved ones health.

Most veterinarians over-vaccinate.

Veterinarian medical practices are small businesses, and they need to make a profit to stay in business. There is remarkably little profit in treating sick animals the real profit is in practicing preventative medicine. Vaccines is one of the high-profit items, along with selling pet foods and preventative medications for ticks, fleas and heartworm prevention. Veterinarians do not deliberately set out to do harm, but some vaccines have potential side effects that could endanger your companions life. If the vaccine is truly necessary, the risk is worth taking, but many vaccines are not needed. You need to know which vaccines are and which are not needed for your little fur baby.

What vaccines does your cat really need?

Before I continue I want to confess that I am not a veterinarian or even a veterinarian technician, although I have read many books on the subject. In preparations for writing this article, I discussed this topic with several veterinarians that I have known and trusted for many years. What I am about to share with you here is based on those conversations and on what I learned from the books that I have read on the subject.
The answer to the question, “What vaccines does my cat need,” depends on many factors. Factors like the cats age; whether it is an indoor only or an indoor-outdoor cat; or outdoor cat all play a key role in the answer.

Kittens: Newborn.

Kittens, when they are first born are protected against certain diseases by antibodies they receive through their mother's milk. This initial protection dissipates rapidly during the first few months of their life. During this critical period of a kitten's life, it should be started on a series of vaccinations given every 3 to 4 weeks. The vaccine used is known as a “Combination” vaccine and protects the kitten against feline distemper virus, feline calcivirus and feline herpesvirus. Rabies vaccines are given between 16 and 26 weeks as govern by law. Many are also vaccinated against feline leukemia if tests show that they are susceptible to the disease.

Cats between 20 weeks to 2 years.

After the initial regiment, of “Combination” vaccine injections, “Booster Shots” should be given to ensure lifelong immunity against deadly viral diseases—panleukopenia (distemper), the upper respiratory viruses (herpsevirus and calcivirus), rabies and possibly leukemia virus. The rabies booster is usually given 12 months after the initial rabies vaccine was administered.
For adult cats, cats over two years of age, with no prior vaccinations, two series of vaccines should be administered 3 to 4 weeks apart to achieve lifelong immunity.

Adult, indoor cats over 2 years of age.

Annual booster shots are recommended for the first two years after the kitten shots. Since indoor cats have little risk of being exposed to these viral infections, most veterinarians recommend staggering the booster shots over a number of years. The rabies vaccine needs to be administered as required by law.

Adult, outdoor cats over 2 years of age.

Because outdoor cats are at high risk of coming into an infected animal, more frequent vaccinations is recommended. Vaccinations for feline leukemia, feline AIDS and rabies, should be done annually. The feline distemper combination will be effective if given every 3 years.

Should you do a vaccine titers?

A Vaccine Titers is a test that determines the level of specific antibodies in your cats blood, and by extension, what vaccine are necessary. Antibodies develop as a reaction to a specific vaccine. Because the results of the titers test may vary from one animal to the next, the titers are measured as a ratio. If the ratio is high enough for a given antibody, there is no need to administer that vaccine.

Historically, veterinarians and pet owners did not do the titers test because administering the test was more expensive than administering the vaccines. Today, because of the possible adverse effects a vaccine may have on the animal, knowledgeable pet parents have the titers test performed instead of having vaccines administered blindly.

Related articles and links

Things That Veterinarians Do Not Like to Talk About

Veterinarian Housecalls

Join me in writing for Wikinut and get paid for what you write.


Booster Shots, Cat, Cat Care, Cat Facts, Cat Health, Cat Owners, Catcare, Cats, Cats And Humans, Feline, Feline Aids, Kitten, Kitten Care, Kitten Owners, Kittens, Leukemia, Rabies, Vaccination, Vaccine, Vaccines, Vet, Vet Bills, Veterinarian, Veterinarian Clinics, Veterinarian Housecalls, Veterinarians, Veterinary, Veterinary Care, Veterinary Hospital, Veterinary Technician, Vets

Meet the author

author avatar Jerry Walch
Jerry Walch is a 71 year old freelance writer for hire living in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He has been writing since the late 1970s, and writes for both the print and online media. He specializes in

Share this page

moderator Mark Gordon Brown moderated this page.
If you have any complaints about this content, please let us know


author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
1st Jan 2011 (#)

Good pet advice Jerry. Most vets suggest vaccinations yearly, but this may not be needed.
It is good to worm cats regularly if they go outside, and as they get older a yearly check up but vaccinations may not be needed every year.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Jerry Walch
1st Jan 2011 (#)

Thank you Mark. I agree about the worming. there are many things I didn't cover in this article because I was focusing on vaccinations. I intend to write more articles on other aspects of medical care in the future.

Happy New Year my friend.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Paul Lines
1st Jan 2011 (#)

Very helpful as we have two new 12 week kitten additions to our household. Thanks Jerry and Happy New Year to you and yours

Reply to this comment

author avatar Denise O
2nd Jan 2011 (#)

Great info Jerry for those that have cats in their family.
Love the pictures! Especially Precious in the pot.
Well written as always Jerry.
I hope Y'all have a Very Happy and healthy new year.
Thank you for sharing.:)

Reply to this comment

author avatar Jerry Walch
2nd Jan 2011 (#)

I will be doing one on dogs soon Denise.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Lynn
2nd Jan 2011 (#)

Most owners, even when they know titers are available, would rather vaccinate than spend the money on bloodwork. At the very busy practice that I work at, we only have 2 or 3 clients willing to do it. In regard to frequency of vaccinations, most vets vaccinate according to the suggestions given by the vaccine manufacturer; there has been recent approval with vaccines such as the combination FVRCP vaccines (as well as the combination DHPP vaccines for dogs) that so long as it's an adult animal that did receive the core kitten/puppy vaccinations, and then a booster a year later, it's perfectly safe to give those vacs every 3 years now in the effort of reducing the amount of unneeded vaccinations. Some, however, still need to be given yearly as the manufacturers have advised that the immunity does not last; for cats those would definitely be the Feline Leukemia vaccine and the FIV vaccine if your vet offers it and your cat has high exposure (such as a household with positive cats). In dogs, Leptospira, Lyme, Bordatella and Influenza are the vacs that still need to be given yearly due to proven low levels of effectiveness if they're not boosted yearly.

Reply to this comment

author avatar bapi
2nd Jan 2011 (#)

indeed, your article is impressive. I like the way you explain small things.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Jerry Walch
2nd Jan 2011 (#)

Thank you Lynn for your input.

Thank you bapi.

Reply to this comment

author avatar A.R.Treadway
2nd Jan 2011 (#)

Thanks for the warm welcome.I like this article on cats I have 1 that is an in/out cat & my littlest one (in age only) that is strictly indoors.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Retired
5th Jan 2011 (#)

Excellent article

Reply to this comment

author avatar Greenfaol
7th Jan 2011 (#)

Wonderful article. some sound advice there. hadn't heard of Titers before. no longer have a cat but good to know for the future.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Stable
8th Jan 2011 (#)

What a thoroughly well written article Jerry, some solid advice for cat owners

Reply to this comment

author avatar Jerry Walch
8th Jan 2011 (#)

Thank you Lucia Anna, Norma and Stable.

Reply to this comment

Add a comment
Can't login?