Please take a moment to inform yourself with this article about the choice you have when vaccinating your cat, then enjoy reading the rest of our cat FAQs below:

Why vaccinate my cat?

Periodic vaccinations are important for all cats to help prevent disease. Vaccinations are especially important in kittens that are not fully able to protect themselves from serious diseases. These diseases can be fatal but are infrequently seen because of the widespread use of effective vaccines. Just because you have never seen these diseases does not mean you do not need to vaccinate your cat because some of them can survive in the environment for long periods, waiting to be picked up by an unprotected animal. Even indoor cats need protection, because some diseases are airborne or could be carried into the house on your clothes.

What are the minimum vaccinations my indoor cat needs every year?

There is currently controversy about which vaccines to use and how frequently to vaccinate cats. At this time we are recommending to vaccinate indoor adult cats every three years for FVRCP (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia). This is really the only combination vaccine that your indoor adult cat needs. Unless she is exposed to other cats that go outside and could bring Leukemia, FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) or Rabies with them into the house your cat should not be vaccinated against these diseases. Keep in mind that a Rabies vaccination might be required in certain areas and since Rabies is a fatal zoonotic disease, protecting your cat and family may be recommended, talk to a 1st Care Veterinarian.

What are the minimum vaccinations my outdoor cat needs every year?

There is currently controversy about which vaccines to use and how frequently to vaccinate cats. At this time we are recommending to vaccinate outdoor cats every three years for FVRCP (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia), and yearly for Feline Leukemia. Before your cat can receive the Leukemia vaccine she needs to be tested if this will be the first time she receives the Feline Leukemia series or if it has been over 2 years since the last booster. A quick blood test can be done at our clinic. If your cat encounters lots of other cats outdoors or gets in cat fights then we recommend re-testing annually, even if they stay current with their annual FeLV vaccinations. An annual Rabies vaccination is definitely recommended if your cat goes outside at all. In some cities this is a requirement of the law.

What vaccinations does my kitten need?

Kittens should receive a series of vaccinations to try to keep them protected as their maternal protection (through milk) decreases. We recommend starting the first set of shots at about 8 weeks of age. Vaccines given at a younger age will most likely be destroyed by the protection still received through the mother’s milk. After the first set the kitten will receive two more sets of vaccines each a month apart. We recommend testing all kittens for Feline Leukemia and FIV at 3 months of age and then vaccinating them with the FeLV vaccine. Kittens are the most susceptible to Feline Leukemia Virus, so even if you don’t plan for your kitten to go outdoors it is well worth protecting them. They will then need one more round of both FVRCP and FeLV at around 4 months. After the series is completed it takes another two weeks before your kitten‘s protection is complete. For kittens that will go outside or for families deciding to fully protect, then the first Rabies vaccination should be given following the completion of the before mentioned kitten series. If your kitten is going to remain only indoors, then we recommend boostering the FVRCP a year from the completion of their kitten series and then every three years. If your kitten is going to be exposed to other cats outside, then one year after the last set of shots your cat is due the next FVRCP and FeLV vaccines, as well as a Rabies booster.  The FVRCP will be given every three years at this point, the FeLV annually and the Rabies annually (we only give the Purevax Rabies, free of adjuvants).

Should I spay or neuter my cat?

We highly recommend spaying and neutering your animals. Not only will it prevent a further escalation of the overpopulation of pets, spaying and neutering prior to sexual maturity can also lower the risk of certain diseases, and improve a dominance aggressive animal’s behavior. Please feel free to ask our veterinarian for any further information.

Why is using flea control important?

Keeping your cat on a regular regimen of flea control products is very important to her health. Fleas not only cause your cat discomfort and can infest your home; they can also lead to health problems for your pet. Your cat can be infected with tapeworms by ingesting fleas or develop skin problems. There are several reliable products that kill fleas effectively. We offer spot-ons like Advantage and Frontline over-the-counter inside the stores and Advantage Multi, which treats intestinal parasites and kills fleas and ear mites, at the clinic. All these products only need to be administered once a month and will keep your cat flea-free and happy. We also offer Seresto, which protects against both fleas and ticks and is worn as a collar lasting 8 months at a time. We see indoor cats with tapeworms or fleas in our clinic all the time. Keeping your cat indoors is not adequate protection against fleas. Please talk to us to determine which product is right for your cat.

What is a Microchip? Why does my cat need one?

Microchips are the most reliable way of permanently identifying your cat. Just like a vaccination, a tiny microchip is injected under the skin of your pet where it remains safely for life. The microchip contains a one-of-a-kind identification number that is linked to you in a data base. You can update your information as many times as you need to while the microchip number remains the same. If your lost pet is found by a shelter or brought into a vet clinic, it will be checked for a microchip with a special scanner. Collars and tags can fall off, but a microchip is permanent. For cats that have been vaccinated with the FIV vaccine it is important to be microchipped. The vaccine while protecting them from the disease will also cause them to test positive for the disease. Animal shelters will put down unidentified cats that test positive for FIV. A microchip will link your cat to you and return her safely to your family.

Does my cat have Tapeworms?

If you have seen white, slimy segments of worms looking similar to rice grains in your cat’s feces, your cat most likely has tapeworms. When dried up they can also look like sesame seeds. Tapeworms can easily be treated with a topical complete de-worming at our clinic. We currently offer Profender, which treats and protects against tapeworm infestations for a month and also treats for roundworm and hookworm. Luckily keeping your cat tapeworm-free is easy. Since cats are infected with tapeworms by eating fleas, we recommend that you use a monthly flea control product year-around.

What diseases am I vaccinating my cat for?

Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR-CP)
is a severe upper respiratory infection. This virus is airborne and very contagious.

Calicivirus (FVR-C-P) can cause a range of diseases, from mild infection to life-threatening pneumonia.

Panleukopenia (FVRC-P) is a highly contagious disease, also known as feline distemper. It causes vomiting and diarrhea and has a high mortality rate.

Feline Leukemia (FeLV) causes a breakdown in your cat’s immune system causing your cat to become susceptible to many diseases which it might otherwise be able to fight off. It is considered to be one of the most common causes of serious illness and death in domestic cats.

Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of
a rabid animal. Rabies primarily attacks the nervous system and causes encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). Death occurs within days of onset of symptoms.

What can I do to make my cat’s visit to the vaccination clinic more enjoyable and safer?

Always have your cat in a carrier. We know that you probably have a special relationship with your cat, but there are many things that might frighten your cat while you are in an unfamiliar environment. For your cat’s safety and your own safety, please have your cat in a carrier.

If your cat is very frightened, please let us know. With animals that are so frightened that it causes them distress we might choose to forgo more extensive examinations or even taking your cat out of the carrier. We prefer to remove your cat from the initial line (while in the carrier) and bring them to the back where the Vet is until they are ready for their turn. This helps them stay calmer and less frightened when it is there turn to be looked at by the Vet.

Advise us of any medication your cat might be taking. Sometimes it is better to wait with the vaccination until the cat is not medicated anymore. Please also mention any other recent health problems like diarrhea and vomiting. The vet will give your cat a brief physical examination before administering the vaccines. This is not a substitute for getting the extensive annual exam that all pets should receive by a vet. If you know that your cat is sick please take her to a veterinary office. Our vaccination clinic is not equipped to diagnose or treat sick animals.