Feline Vaccinations-Importance and Schedule

By: Talin Seta Shahinian

Your kitten or cat thrives on love, attention, play, good food, fresh water, and a clean litter box. However, there’s another vital aspect of being a feline parent. Especially if you’re new to taking care of a kitten or cat, it’s important to know about feline vaccinations, ensuring that they stay healthy and live a long life. Vaccines protect your feline friend against a host of infectious diseases and viruses. They also strengthen your cat’s immune system, enabling them to better ward off illness.

Standard Vaccinations

  • FVRCP (feline distemper vaccine) Protects against three feline viruses: rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia.
  • Rabies.
  • FeLV or Feline Leukemia.

Kitten Vaccination Schedule

  • 6-8 Weeks Old: FVRCP.
  • 10-12 Weeks Old: FVRCP and FeLV.
  • 16+ Weeks Old: FVRCP, FeLV, and rabies vaccine.
  • The Importance Of The Rabies Vaccine

The rabies vaccine is vital and can be administered as early as when your kitten reaches 12 weeks of age. A rabies vaccine is not required by law in Wisconsin, but that doesn’t mean your feline friend doesn’t need it. There’s no cure or treatment possible once a cat gets rabies, and it’s 100% fatal to felines, so prevention is essential. You wouldn’t want to lose your kitten or cat to this preventable condition. Additionally,  rabies can rapidly spread to humans and other animals.  Lastly, if your cat bites a visitor to your house, your local health department will want to see evidence of a current rabies vaccine. Otherwise, they will require a six-month or longer quarantine.  All these scenarios are easily avoided with a simple vaccine.

The Importance Of FVRCP Vaccine

FVRCP stands for Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (also called Herpes) Calici Panleukopenia (also called Distemper or Parvo) viruses.

Feline Rhinotracheitis (herpes) and Calicivirus are contagious upper respiratory infections.  These are common infections plaguing the farm cats you see with “colds.”  The vaccination against these helps prevent the infection.  Although it is not a 100% vaccine, even if cats still get herpes or calicivirus after the vaccination, they will have mild symptoms that are shorter-lived.

Feline Panleukopenia (distemper) is a contagious infection that causes low white blood cells in the blood.  White blood cells help fight infection.  When there are no white blood cells, then cats die very easily and quickly from overwhelming infection.  The vaccine is very good at preventing this disease.  DO NOT GIVE THIS TO PREGNANT CATS AS THE KITTENS CAN BE BORN WITH CEREBELLAR HYPOPLASIA.

What About the Felv Feline Leukemia Vaccination?

Feline leukemia is spread from cat to cat through saliva.  Cats that groom each other can pass it as well as outdoor cats that fight and bite each other.  Felv can cause abortion in pregnant cats, general immune suppression in all cats, and most important, it causes a cancer-like infection that destroys white blood cells (leukemia).  There’s no cure for Felv.  This is most often fatal.  The Felv vaccine is administered to kittens 3-4 weeks apart and then yearly after that.  Your veterinarian will want first to test that your kitten does not already carry Felv before vaccinating them.

Adult Cat Vaccination Schedule

Up to nine months old, a cat is considered a kitten. Adult Cat Vaccinations are administered one year after your cat has had the kitten series of vaccines, which will always be after they are one year old or later. The follow-up vaccinations are called booster shots. They ensure that your cat’s immune system continues to be protected.  The rabies vaccine is bolstered yearly to every three years, depending on the vaccine manufacturer’s protocol.  The FVRCP vaccine is given to kittens with a 2-3 vaccine series and again at one year of age.  After that, the FVRCP vaccine is boosters every three years.  The Felv vaccine is administered to kittens 3-4 weeks apart and then yearly after that.

If vaccines need to be bolstered, is it still worth vaccinating my farm cat one-time only when in for their spay/neuter surgery?

Good question!  YES!!  Recent research has shown that just one dose of the FVRCP vaccine given to adult cats can be effective for seven years or even longer (lifetime for some).  So one dose can be enough for our outdoor cats.  It’s always best to get the booster as that will ensure the vaccine will work for many years, but if you are not able to get your farm cat bolstered, rest assured one dose will protect them for many years most likely.

Indoor Cat vs. Outdoor Cat Vaccinations

You may think an indoor cat doesn’t require the full spectrum of vaccinations that an outdoor or indoor/outdoor cat does, but cats are naturally curious animals. They like to explore and have hunting instincts, so despite your best efforts, they might find a way to sneak out once in a while. Knowing they are fully vaccinated will give you peace of mind if they happen to get outside, or at least give you one less thing to worry about before they arrive back at home!

Outdoor or indoor/outdoor cats encounter many potential risks for disease during their time outside, so make sure they get their initial vaccination and all their follow-up boosters. Also, if you have more than one cat and an indoor/outdoor cat that lives inside part of the time, you do not want them to be a potential carrier of any diseases that could endanger your indoor-only cat.

Getting Your Kitty On The Road To Wellness

If you live in NW Wisconsin, consider having Purple Cat Mobile Veterinary Clinic help you.  Purple Cat travels to several towns in NW Wisconsin for spaying/neutering and vaccinating cats, especially outdoor cats.  Please note that currently, vaccines are only given to cats coming in for surgery.  Purple Cat does not give Felv vaccines.

Contact us or check us out on Facebook at Purple Cat Mobile Veterinary Clinic, for even more helpful information.


All cat spay/neuter appointments are made on this website. We post new clinic dates 6 weeks ahead of time. Check back often if you do not see a date that works for you.

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