At My Vet Animal Hospital – Waterloo, we recommend that all cats come in for an annual health exam and their annual vaccination. Not only does an annual exam increase our chances of detecting disease, vaccination helps us prevent diseases that are often deadly and very, very difficult to treat.

We’ve had a few clients ask us about cat vaccinations, so we decided to compile a list of our most frequently asked questions!

What vaccination does my cat need?

Most cats only need a single vaccination called the F3. The F3 protects against Feline Panleukopenia and Cat Flu (feline herpesvirus, and feline calicivirus). Unlike the C3 for dogs, the F3 does NOT guarantee prevention of infection or shedding of the virus for the cat flu components of the vaccine. However, it can prevent illness and/or reduce the severity of symptoms of the disease.

What does the F3 vaccinate against?

  1. Panleukopenia which causes haemorrhagic diarrhoea, vomiting, and high fever. There is no cure for Feline Panleukopaenia, which is why vaccination is SO important.
  2. Herpesvirus is one the viruses that causes cat flu. It tends to cause watery eyes, sneezing, and it can also cause oral ulcers and eye ulcers. The annoying thing about herpesvirus is that it tends to be for forever – the virus tends to go into hiding until the cat is immunosuppressed.
  3. Calicivirus is one of the viruses that causes cat flu. It tends to cause watery eyes, sneezing, and it can also cause oral ulcers and eye ulcers. Calicivirus can occasionally be very vicious and cause systemic illness – there is no cure for this form of calicivirus.

When does my cat need to be vaccinated?

Kittens should receive their vaccinations at 8, 12, and 16 weeks old. As cell-mediated immunity is very important against herpesvirus and calicivirus, yearly vaccinations are required to ensure adequate protection.

Do I need to vaccinate my cat even if he/she is 100% indoors?

Yup! The main difference is how frequently your cat needs to be vaccinated. That said, it also depends on how you define “100% indoors”! According to WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association) guidelines, low-risk cats are cats that live only in the apartment with no access to the balcony! If your cat goes outdoors at all, yearly vaccinations are required.

What about other cat vaccinations?

The F3 is the only core vaccination recommended by vets worldwide. Any other vaccination depends on the lifestyle of your cat and the diseases that are prevalent in your area.

For free-roaming, outdoor cats, we recommend the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV) vaccinations. FIV – much like its human counterpart HIV – is transmitted by bodily fluids, often through cat bites. FIV causes immunosuppression for which there is no known cure.

FeLV is also much more common in free-roaming, outdoor cats. As its name suggests, FeLV predisposes a cat to leukaemia, a type of blood cancer, which results in immunosuppression.

As Australia is rabies-free, cats do not have to be vaccinated against rabies. However, if you’re planning on moving to another country, there’s a very strong possibility that your cat will have to be vaccinated against rabies.

Do discuss vaccinations with your local veterinarian, especially if you need something more technical answered! Veterinarians tend to tailor a vaccination protocol to the individual needs of your cat.

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