What Vaccines Does My Cat Need?


One of the first things that all new owners need to consider is getting their kitten her necessary shots. In order to keep your kitty as healthy as possible, she’ll need a series of shots over the first year of her life. Knowing what vaccines does my cat need is more than just the first year, though. Your cat will need regular vaccinations throughout her life to stay healthy.

The answer to this question depends on several factors. Your cat will need several vaccinations that are crucial to her health, and local laws and regulations require certain vaccines. Your veterinarian will be able to tell you what vaccinations are required and are essential to the health and well-being of your kitten.

Unfortunately, some veterinarians will recommend that your cat get every vaccination that is available for him. As a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to do your own research. Do your part to find out:

  • which vaccines are required for cats in your area
  • which vaccines are recommended for your cat to receive
  • which vaccines your cat may not need or may be dangerous for her

Over-vaccinating pets is a serious concern and something you should be concerned about. For more information on the science behind this topic, check out our article on preventing over-vaccination in pets.

What Vaccines Does My Cat Need?

What Vaccines Does My Cat Need?

Vaccines contain antigens that help prepare the immune system to fight disease. Antigens look and act like the organisms that cause disease but don’t actually cause it. The body’s exposure to the vaccine mildly stimulates the immune system.

After a vaccination is administered, the immune system would recognize the actual disease if the body was exposed to it. The body would either be able to fight the disease entirely or at least be better prepared to fight against it. Because of the antigens that were already there, the illness would be much less severe than usual.

While vaccines are essential to your cat’s health, not all cats need to be vaccinated against every disease. Your cat’s age, medical history, travel habits and daily environment will determine which vaccines are best suited for her.

Core Vaccines vs. Non-Core Vaccines

Core vaccines are considered necessary for all cats. Your veterinarian will probably recommend these vaccinations as a bare minimum for your kitten. Non-core vaccines are recommended depending on the region that you live in and your cat’s lifestyle.

The three core vaccines for felines are:

  • Rabies – every 1-3 years depending on requirements in your local area and the brand of vaccination given
  • FVRCP is 3 core vaccines combined into one – Feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR, feline herpesvirus type 1, or FHV-1), feline calicivirus (FCV) and Feline Panleukopenia (FPL)
  • FeLV – feline leukemia

What vaccines does my cat need? That’s actually a 2-part question. While she may only need 3 vaccinations, they’ll require more than 3 shots. Your kitten will get her first shots at about 6 weeks old. Most veterinarians give a combination vaccine, while others give each shot individually.

Here is a look at the most common feline vaccination schedule:

Age Core Vaccines Non-Core Vaccines
6 – 8 weeks FVRCP
10 – 12 weeks FVRCP (first or second shot)
FeLV (first or second shot)
Bordetella and Chlamydia
14-16 weeks FVRCP (only if first shot given at 10-12 weeks)
FeLV (only if first shot given at 10-12 weeks)
Chlamydia (second shot)
1 year after initial series FVRCP booster
Rabies booster
Every 1-3 years FELV (optional at this point)
Bordetella and Chlamydia

Your cat needs a rabies vaccination every year or every 3 years depending on your state’s laws. It’s best to discuss your cat’s vaccination schedule with your veterinarian so they can tell you what vaccines does a cat need before you even bring your new addition home.

This way you will be prepared, and you can make arrangements to set up the appointments in advance. Planning ahead will also give you time to include these vet visits in your budget.


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