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Which vaccines should my cat get?

Updated on July 5, 2009

Cat owners are often a bit confused when upon taking their cat for their yearly physical examination the animal hospital receptionist asks which vaccinations they want to give to their cat. Every thing can however, be much clearer once vaccinations may be divided into two categories; core and non core.

Core vaccinations are generally those that are given to most cats. They are often the standard vaccinations required for a pet upon boarding, being hospitalized or upon traveling. These are the vaccinations all cats should definitelyhave, since they are the basic ones. While non core vaccination ore equally important, they are however given on a case by case basis depending on various factors such as if the cat is indoors or outdoors, if the area is known for the eruption of certain diseases, or other factors such as the cat's age and general health status. Following are listed the core and non core vaccines.

Core Vaccines

Core vaccines consist of the following:

  • Rabies

This vaccine is actually mandate by law in just about every where nowadays, because of the seriousness of this disease. It is tranmitted by a bite from an infected animal. The first rabies vaccine is generally given for the first time when the kitten is over 12 weeks old. After ward, the cat will get another booster one year later, and then depending on the area it may be given yearly each time or even every three years.

  • Distemper

The distemper vaccine is actually a combination vaccine. It is known as FVRCCP. This acronym is composed by the initials of various diseases this vaccine may cover.: Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Chlamydiosis and Panleukopenia.

Non Core Vaccinations

These are vaccinations given on a case by case basis. They are usually recommended for cats that live outdoors, because they are transmitted by close contact with an infected cat.

  • FIP Feline Infectious Peritonitis (transmitted by exposure to infected feces, infected secretions, or in kittens through the placenta)
  • FIV Feline Aids (transmitted by puncturing cat bites or in kittens during gestation or from nursing on infected milk)
  • FELV Feline Leukemia (transmitted by infected saliva, therefore cat bites, grooming and sharing cat food bowls and water bowls may trigger the disease. Kittens may get the disease in utero or from infected milk.


Kittens unlike cats must undergo a series of vaccinations, with boosters set apart every three- four weeks. Below is an example of a typical kitten vaccination schedule, for both indoor and outdoor cats:

  • 6-8 weeks: 1st FVRCP, 1st FIP for outdoor kittens, 1st FIV for outdoor kittens
  • 9-11 weeks: 2nd FVRCP, 2nd FIP, 2ND FIV, 1st FELV for outdoor kittens
  • 12 -14 weeks: 3rd FVRCP, 3RD FIV, 2nd FELV , RABIES


These are just examples of common vaccination schedules in cats . However, it is important to note that each veterinary clinic may vaccinate differently. When uncertain on which vaccinations should be given, owners should consult with their veterinarian.

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    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 

      9 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Excellent hub, invaluable for new cat owners.

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