Vaccinations: How do I know what my cat needs?

Most cat owners will agree, taking their furry friends to an animal hospital is anything but fun. Between struggling with the carrier and the yowling on the car ride, staying home seems to be a better option. However, keeping your cat’s vaccinations up to date is extremely important for their well-being. In addition, yearly visits to a veterinary hospital can help track things like weight loss, dental health, behavior and factors that may serve as early indicators of systemic illness.

Cats receive both “core” and “non-core” vaccinations. A core vaccination is one that is considered required for all cats, while the non-core are given based on the cat’s situation/environment or exposure(s). At Ridgewood Animal Hospital, we follow the guidelines set out by the American Association of Feline Practitioners.

Core Feline Vaccinations

Rabies: required by law for all cats and kittens 12 weeks of age and older. A single dose is given, followed by an every year or an every 3 year protocol. The yearly non-adjuvanted vaccine is recommended due to a decreased incidence of vaccine associated sarcoma.

FVRCP: starting at 6 to 8 weeks of age and boosted every 3 to 4 weeks until 16 weeks of age, then every 3 years. This vaccination serves to protect against several viruses, inclusing panleukopenia, herpes and calici. Most commonly referred to as the “feline distemper shot.”

Non-Core Feline Vaccinations (there are many of these but only ones recommended are listed)

Feline Leukemia: protection against the feline leukemia virus, which results in severe immunodeficiency, frequent illnesses and shortened life span. Spread from cat to cat. A 2 dose series started between 8 and 12 weeks, then annually. A Feline Leukemia test is required prior to receiving this vaccination. Recommended for all outdoor cats.

All vaccination protocols are tailored to the individual patient. Please let us know if you have any questions.