Feline Vaccine Guidelines

The American Association of Feline Practitioners has created guidelines for vaccinating cats. A vaccine protocol should be based on your cat’s individual risks of exposure, and every cat does not need every vaccine every year. Vaccines can cause adverse reactions in certain animals and a very small percentage of cats develop tumors at sites of vaccines, so discuss your cat’s needs with your veterinarian. Even if your cat does not need a vaccine every year, an annual physical exam is needed to monitor the pet’s health and provide you with an opportunity to discuss any problems.


Elaine Wexler-Mitchell, DVM of The Cat Care Clinic in Orange and author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to a Healthy Cat”and Guide To A Healthy Cat, Howell Book House © 2004 recommends initial vaccines for kittens at 6-8 weeks of age. Kitten vaccines are repeated every 21-30 days until the kitten is at least 12 weeks old. (See your newly adopted kitten’s health record for scheduling.) Your kitten will not be fully vaccinated until your series is completed.


This vaccine prevents Panleukopenia (kitty distemper, also know as kitty parvo) and lessens the severity of the cold viruses: rhinotraceitis (feline herpes) and calici virus. Dr. Wexler-Mitchell recommends the FRCP booster vaccine be given to both indoor and outdoor adult cats one year after finishing their kitten series and then once every three years. Protection provided by this vaccine has been shown to last at least three years.


(Feline Leukemia Virus Vaccine)

Feline specialist, Elaine Wexler-Mitchell, DVM recommends blood testing all cats for FeLV and if negative, vaccinating kittens at 9-12 weeks, then one month later. Vaccination can be discontinued if the cat remains strictly indoors in the future.


The FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis) intranasal vaccine is not recommended routinely for any cats.

The rabies vaccine is recommended for any kittens or cats that go outdoors, where they could be exposed to wild animals carrying the virus) or have a tendency to bite humans. Rabies vaccination is currently not required by law for cats in Orange County .

Community Animal Network rescue cats and kittens have been blood tested for Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Viruses by a laboratory. If a cat could have had a recent exposure to either virus, a repeat test is recommended 4-6 weeks afterwards. (False negatives with the veterinary in-house testing almost never happen, but false positives can occur more frequently and should be confirmed with a laboratory test.)


However rare, they do occur. Symptoms can last 24 up to 48 hours. Mild reactions of lethargy and loss of appetite and tenderness at the injection site are the most common. More serious reaction symptoms could be vomiting, diarrhea, trembling, difficulty breathing and should be seen by a veterinarian.

P.S. Consider that “FIP” or “Rabies” vaccines are not recommended for indoor cats as it is unlikely they will be exposed to these. Unless your kitten is sick, there is really no need to see a veterinarian when you get booster shots for your kitten. Many vets offer vaccine clinics, which offer the shots at a significantly lower rate – so don’t forget to ask.