Vaccinating your cat is important to protect them against certain illnesses. Read more about vaccinations in our free guide.
Why should I get my cat vaccinated?
Vaccinations are vital in keeping your cat happy and healthy. They will help to prevent them from getting very unwell and even dying from certain diseases. It’s even more important to make sure kittens get vaccinated.
There are lots of reasons to get your cat vaccinated, such as:
- protecting them against deadly diseases
- helping to prevent the spread of certain diseases among other felines
- protecting vulnerable cats from becoming seriously ill
- most insurers will require you to vaccinate your cat for your insurance to be valid
- if you use a cattery for holiday care, they will often require you to vaccinate your cat
When can I get my cat vaccinated?
Adult cats can be given their first vaccines at any age, so even if your cat is not currently vaccinated you can speak to your vet about getting them vaccinated.
Kittens can be vaccinated from around eight weeks old. Two vaccines are usually needed – three to four weeks apart – to make sure kittens are well protected. A booster vaccine should also be given one year later to keep immunity levels high.
Vaccination against rabies cannot start until 12 weeks of age.
Do cats need vaccinations every year?
Once your cat has had their primary course of vaccines, they will need a yearly booster vaccine. This is to make sure their immunity levels stay high.
What do I need to vaccinate my cat against?
There is a core group of vaccinations recommended for all cats in the UK, whether they are indoor or outdoor cats. Find out more about each below.
Cat flu (feline herpes virus, FHV) and feline calicivirus (FCV))
- Both FHV and FCV cause cat flu
- There are a number of different strains of FCV and it can be deadly
- Cat flu can make more vulnerable cats, such as young kittens and elderly cats, seriously ill
- Vaccinating your cat against cat flu is the best way to protect them
Find out more about cat flu
- Feline parvovirus causes severe disease in cats, especially kittens, and is often fatal
- It is an extremely hardy virus and can survive in an environment for a long time
- Both indoor and outdoor cats are at risk because the virus is easily carried into the home on shoes and clothing
Find out more about feline parvovirus
Feline infectious enteritis (FIE)
- Feline infectious enteritis is a severe and often fatal gut infection.
- It is caused by the feline parvovirus (or feline panleukopenia virus).
- Unvaccinated cats are at great risk because the virus is widespread in the environment.
Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV)
- FeLV is a lifelong infection.
- Most cats will die within three years of diagnosis, usually from a subsequent disease like leukaemia, lymphoma (tumours) or progressive anaemia.
- It is not an airborne disease and can only be passed on via direct contact between cats, usually by saliva or bites.
- Because of the serious nature of the disease, CP recommends FeLV vaccination.
Find out more about feline leukaemia virus
- This bacterium causes conjunctivitis in cats.
- The virus can't survive in the atmosphere and is thus spread by direct contact between cats, affecting multi-cat households and kittens predominantly.
- Your vet will discuss your situation and advise as to whether this vaccine is necessary.
Find out more about chlamydia felis in cats
What else can my cat be vaccinated against?
There are a few more vaccines designed to protect your cat, however your vet can help you decide whether these are necessary.
Other vaccines for your cat include:
- bordetella bronchiseptica. This bacteria causes flu-like symptoms in cats and can cause kennel cough in dogs
- rabies. Cats travelling abroad under the Pet Travel Scheme must have been vaccinated against rabies virus
Are vaccines effective straight away?
Once your cat or kitten has had their primary course of vaccinations, it may take three or four weeks before they are fully protected (just like when humans get vaccinated). This is because their body needs time to build up its immune response to whatever infectious agent they have been vaccinated against.