Vaccines are something that young kitten owners are typically aware of because they are given on a frequent basis, but as cats age, vet appointments and therefore vaccines become less common. It might be troublesome not only for your cat's health but also for legal reasons if your adult cat does not visit the veterinarian at least once a year. Adult cats require a number of immunizations, and just because they aren't required as frequently as kittens doesn't mean they shouldn't have them.
Why Do Cats Need Vaccinations?
Vaccinations, often known as immunizations, help a cat's immune system battle infections more effectively. Cats are not protected against a range of potentially deadly infections that they may encounter during their lifetimes if they do not receive immunizations. Due to state rules, one vaccination in particular is required.
Typical Vaccination Schedule for Adult Cats
Kittens get their first vaccinations at the age of eight weeks and then get different shots every few weeks until they're around four months old. They won't need another vaccine until they're an adult, which will be approximately a year later.
It will be time to see the veterinarian for an annual check-up and immunization boosters about a year after a kitten has had its last shots. Your cat will still require an annual check-up after that, but the main immunizations will normally only be administered every three years. Non-core vaccinations may be prescribed by your veterinarian based on your cat's lifestyle and risk level, and they must be given every year regardless of your cat's age. The rabies vaccination, which may need to be administered annually depending on whether it is a recombinant or killed vaccine, is an exception.
Core Vaccines for Adult Cats
Certain vaccinations are recommended by the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) for all cats, regardless of their risk of exposure. Adult cats that got these immunizations as kittens are routinely given them every three years. Vaccine frequency should be reduced because cats are prone to developing tumors at injection sites, although this should not be mistaken for avoidance. This is why it's critical to adhere to your veterinarian's immunization schedule recommendations for your cat.
- : Not only is rabies fatal in almost all unvaccinated animals that are infected with it, but the vaccine is also required by most state laws for all cats over the age of six months. This is because rabies is a zoonotic disease and can spread to humans. Even if your cat is an indoor-only cat, rabies can be contracted if a bat gets into the house or if it escapes outside and is exposed to a rabid animal. A rabies vaccine may need to be administered yearly if a recombinant vaccine is used or every three years if a killed virus vaccine is used.
- Feline Herpesvirus 1 (FHV1): Part of a combination vaccine, FHV1 causes respiratory and ocular issues in cats. It is administered every three years in adult cats.
- Feline Calicivirus (FCV): Part of a combination vaccine, FCV causes severe and ocular issues as well as oral sores and occasionally lameness in cats. It is very contagious and a deadly form that causes inflammation of major organs also exists. It is administered every three years in adult cats.
- Feline Panleukopenia Virus (FPV): Also known as feline distemper, FPV is highly contagious and can be fatal. Gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and inappetance are commonly seen in addition to sudden death. It is part of a combination vaccine with FCV and FHV1 that is administered every three years in adult cats.
Non-Core Vaccines for Adult Cats
A different vaccine may be suggested by your veterinarian depending on your cat's lifestyle. This is a non-core vaccination since not every cat need it, but if yours does, it must be given every year.
- - Usually spread through the urine and saliva of infected cats, FeLV causes immune issues and eventual death. It is a yearly vaccine for at-risk cats.
A few additional vaccinations were once suggested but are no longer routinely administered to cats, even if they are at risk. FIP, Bordatella, and Chlamydia vaccines are among them.