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Should I get my indoor cat vaccinated?

Vaccinations are very important. And that's true even for indoor cats, In this post, our Beacon veterinarians talk about cat vaccinations and why it's important to vaccinate your indoor cat.

What are cat vaccinations?

Certain cat-specific diseases can make many cats sick. Getting your kitten vaccinated is crucial for their protection. Booster shots are necessary to ensure the safety of your indoor cat. Regular booster shots are crucial for your kitten's health, even if they will be an indoor cat.

Why should I vaccinate my indoor cat?

Many states have laws that make certain vaccinations mandatory for cats, even if you think your indoor kitty doesn't require them.  As an example, lots of states have a law stating that all cats must be given the rabies vaccine by the time they are 6 months old. After your cat receives their vaccine your vet will provide you with a certificate that states your cat was given the required shots.

There are 2 types of vaccines that are available for cats : core vaccines and lifestyle vaccines.

Veterinarians recommend that all indoor cats should be given core vaccinations to keep them protected from a large range of extremely contagious diseases, so they are safe from illnesses if they escape from your house, go for a grooming or if they have to stay at a boarding facility, etc...

Cat Vaccines

There are two basic types of vaccinations available for cats.

Core vaccinations should be given to all cats because they are key for protecting them from the following common but serious feline conditions:


Rabies kills many mammals (including humans) every year. These vaccinations are required by law for cats in most states.

Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia (FVRCP)

Typically known as the "distemper" shot, this combination vaccine protects against feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia.

Feline herpesvirus type I (FHV, FHV-1)

This virus is extremely contagious and can be found everywhere. It is a significant contributor to upper respiratory infections. The virus can be transmitted through various means, such as sharing litter trays or food bowls, inhaling sneeze droplets, or coming into direct contact. Cats can be infected by the virus for their entire lives. The virus can still be shed by some individuals, and eye problems may arise from a persistent FHV infection.

Non-core vaccinations are recommended for some cats based on their lifestyle. Your vet will offer you advice on which non-core vaccines your cat should get. These can protect your cat from:

Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia (FeLV)

These vaccines protect against viral infections that are transmitted via close contact. They are only usually recommended for cats that spend time outdoors.


This bacteria causes upper respiratory infections that are highly contagious. Your vet may recommend this vaccine if you are taking your cat to a groomer or boarding kennel.

Chlamydophila felis

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that causes severe conjunctivitis. The vaccination for the infection is often included in the distemper combination vaccine.

When should my kitten get their first shots?

Take your kitten to the vet for their first vaccinations when they're around 6-8 weeks old. After that, keep bringing them back every 3-4 weeks until they're about 16 weeks old for more shots.

Indoor Kitten & Cat Vaccination Schedule

First visit (6 to 8 weeks)

  • Fecal exam for parasites
  • Blood test for feline leukemia
  • Review nutrition and grooming
  • Vaccinations for chlamydia, calicivirus, rhinotracheitis and panleukopenia

Second visit (12 weeks)

  • Examination and external check for parasites
  • First feline leukemia vaccine
  • Second vaccinations for calicivirus rhinotracheitis and panleukopenia

Third visit (follow veterinarian's advice)

  • The second feline leukemia vaccine
  • Rabies vaccine

When will my cat require booster shots?

Adult cats need booster shots, which can be either yearly or every three years, depending on the type of vaccine. Your vet will let you know when to schedule these shots for your cat. 

Will my kitten be protected after their first round of shots?

It is important to ensure that your kitten receives several vaccinations to ensure full protection. These vaccinations are typically administered when your kitten is between 12 to 16 weeks old. Your kitty will be protected from the conditions or diseases covered by the vaccines once they have completed their initial vaccinations. 

Let your kitten outside before they finish their hots, but stick to safer places like your own backyard.

Are there potential side effects of cat vaccinations?

Most cats won't display any side effects after getting their vaccines. If your kitty does develop a reaction, they are typically short in duration and minor. But keep in mind these potential negative side effects:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Redness or swelling around the injection site
  • Severe lethargy
  • Lameness
  • Hives
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Vomiting

If you suspect your cat is reacting badly to a vaccine, contact your vet immediately. They can check if your kitty needs extra care.

What happens if I don't vaccinate my indoor cat?

If you do not vaccinate your indoor cat, they will be at risk of contracting preventable diseases such as feline leukemia, rabies, and distemper. These diseases can be easily transmitted through contact with other animals or even through objects in your home, putting your cat's health in jeopardy. Regular vaccinations are essential to protect your cat and ensure their overall well-being.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is it time for your cat's vaccinations or booster shots? Contact our Beacon vets today to schedule an appointment for your kitty. 

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Our vets at The Beacon Veterinary Associates are now accepting new patients! Our experienced team of veterinary professionals are passionate about giving the cats and dogs of Beacon the health care they need. Contact us today to schedule your pet's first appointment.

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