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Answers from vets about your cat:

What Vaccines does My Adult Cat Need?

Reviewed by Dr. Alexis Seguin, DVM, MS, DACVIM on Friday, April 10, 2015
Posted March 09, 2015 in Cat Checkups & Preventive Care

owner petting his adult cat

The goal of vaccinating your adult cat is to prevent as many diseases as possible.

What vaccines are even available for your adult cat?
There are lots of vaccines available, but not all cats need to be vaccinated for all diseases all the time. There are two general groupings of vaccinations;

  • Those against so called “core” diseases
  • Those against “non-core” diseases

According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), the core vaccines (those that are recommended for ALL cats) are feline panleukopenia virus (FPV), feline herpesvirus-1 (FHV-1), and feline calicivirus (FCV) as well as Rabies.

There are a number of non-core feline vaccines available, but most are not widely recommended. The non-core vaccines that are most often recommended include feline leukemia virus (FeLV), and in some cases feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)1.

How do you know which non-core vaccines are appropriate for your cat?
Vaccines recommended may vary; your cat’s age and general health need to be considered.

You need to talk to your veterinarian. He knows you and your cat. That makes your veterinarian the best source of individualized advice on this subject. The two of you will need to determine the likelihood of your cat being exposed to the non-core illness listed above and weigh those risks against any side effects associated with the vaccines themselves. Your discussion should include a number of topics, but probably the most important is whether your cat is truly an “indoor cat” or spends any time out of doors, where other cats are a concern.

Once is not enough for vaccinations
Whatever vaccinations you decide on with your veterinarian, revaccination is needed from time to time to keep your cat’s immunity high. Different vaccines (even different versions of one type of vaccine) require different re-vaccination/booster schedules. Your cat’s health and lifestyle will change over time. That means that at every annual exam appointment with your veterinarian, you should revisit your cat’s risk assessment and tailor ongoing vaccination recommendations accordingly. This will assure you that your cat remains appropriately vaccinated throughout life.

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Mike has more than 35 years of experience in companion animal veterinary practice and is a valued member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team since 2013.