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How often?


Consult with your veterinarian to determine which vaccinations your cat should receive, and how often.


You may have heard about the current controversies regarding vaccinating cats. Some researchers believe we do not need to vaccinate annually for most diseases. But how often we should vaccinate for each specific disease in adult animals has not yet been determined. We do not know how long the protection from a vaccine lasts. It may be 5 years for one disease and 3 years for another, and less than 2 years for another.


Almost all researchers agree that for kittens we need to continue to give at least three combination vaccinations and repeat these at one year of age. They also agree that rabies vaccinations must continue to be given according to local ordinances.
Against what diseases?


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Experts generally agree on what vaccines are ‘core’ vaccines, i.e., what vaccines should be given to every cat, and what vaccines are given only to certain cats (noncore). Whether to vaccinate with noncore vaccines depends upon a number of things including the age, breed, and health status of the cat, the potential exposure of the cat to an animal that has the disease, the type of vaccine, and how common the disease is in the geographical area where the cat lives or may visit.


In cats, the suggested core vaccines are feline panleukopenia (distemper), feline viral rhinotracheitis, feline calici virus, and rabies.


The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) recommends vaccinating against feline panleukopenia (distemper), feline viral rhinotracheitis, and feline calici virus every three years. But they also suggest that cats at a high risk of exposure to these diseases may benefit from more frequent vaccinations. Since vaccinating every three years does not agree with the current manufacturers’ directions of vaccinating annually, when to vaccinate, and with what, the decision must be a personal (and informed) choice for each cat owner. Consult with your veterinarian to determine what is best for your cat.


The noncore vaccines include feline leukemia (FeLV), feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), ringworm, and chlamydia. The AAFP recommends AGAINST FeLV vaccinations in adult totally indoor cats who have no exposure to other cats. It is suggested that all kittens, because they are most susceptible and their lifestyles may change, should receive an initial FeLV vaccination series. FIP and ringworm vaccinations are not recommended. The choice to use a chlamydia vaccine is based upon the prevalence of the disease and husbandry conditions.


If you have any questions about vaccinating your cat, the annual exam is a good time to ask your veterinarian.

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