Vaccines are a key part of preventative health care that enables your cat to develop immunity to all kinds of viruses and bacteria. All cats, even those living indoors, need protection through vaccination. The vaccines your cat needs will depend on what his/her lifestyle is like. To determine which ones are necessary, please speak to your veterinarian.
Does my indoor cat need to be vaccinated?
While indoor cats are certainly at lower risk of contracting a disease, there are some good reasons to keep them protected too. Reasons to vaccinate your indoor cat include: certain viruses are airborne and can be brought into the home, many cats who begin as indoor only end up finding a way out and are put at risk by exposure to other animals, should you need to board your kitty proof of up to date vaccination is required, and finally, Rabies is a zoonotic disease, meaning humans can contract it. Wildlife carrying rabies can find their way into homes, putting your cat (and you) at risk!
What is FVRCP and core vaccine for cats?
“Core” vaccines refer to those that most pets receive, regardless of their lifestyle, and FVRCP is one of these. FVRCP stands for Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and Panleukopenia – it is one vaccine that protects your pet from 3 nasty viruses. These three viruses can be spread through the air and survive on surfaces including our clothing; this means that direct cat-to-cat contact is not necessary. Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR) and Calicivirus (C) both affect your cat’s respiratory system and can prove fatal in young cats. Panleukopenia (P) affects your cat’s gastrointestinal tract, and because it leads to a compromised immune system the disease will leave your cat susceptible to many other illnesses, some of which may be fatal. Panleukopenia is highly contagious. Other vaccines that are considered core vaccines for outdoor cats include Feline Leukemia Virus and Rabies. If you are contemplating or know that your cat will be spending time outside, even if only in your yard, please discuss their vaccination needs with your veterinarian.
How often does my adult cat need vaccination?
The vaccine protection chosen for your cat is based on your discussion with your veterinarian to assess lifestyle. Once you know which vaccines your pet will receive you can determine the vaccine schedule. Some vaccines must be boosted annually while others only every three years. The strictly indoor cat who stays 100% indoors will need different vaccine coverage than the one who goes out in the yard, goes to a groomer or boarding facility, or anywhere they could be exposed to viruses. It should be noted that regardless of how often your cat requires vaccines, an annual exam is the single most important step in preventative care for your pet. Remember, one year in their life is approximately seven in yours!
Are there any risk associated with vaccines?
The vaccines available today are very safe and offer a high rate of protection. However, the type of vaccine, as well as the individual cat, will play a role in just how much protection. For these reasons, it is good practice to minimize exposure to disease whenever possible. From time to time we do see adverse reactions with vaccines ranging from mild (slight lethargy, decrease in appetite or low-grade fever for a day or two, sometimes a small amount of swelling where the vaccine was given which typically goes away in a day or so) to severe anaphylaxis within the first few minutes to an hour. Finally, Vaccine Associated Sarcomas (VAS) are a type of tumour that develops at the site of injection. Your pet’s medical record will reflect which vaccine was given in which location should any concerns arise. Like with many things, this is a risk/benefit discussion with most pets benefitting from an appropriate vaccine schedule.