Vaccinations Every Cat Needs in Pewaukee, WI

Understanding cat vaccinations can come across as confusing and complicated if you don’t know the facts. This article is to help clear up the facts about cat vaccines and let you know when they are needed and what each vaccine does to help protect your pet. If you have any questions, call Pewaukee Veterinary Service at (262) 347-0787.

Vaccines are given to prevent disease, not as a treatment for sick cats. There are two types: Core and Non-core and varies if you have an indoor or an outdoor cat. If you are unsure if your cat has been vaccinated, treat it as unvaccinated to be on the safe side.

Core Vaccines guard against common and severe contagious diseases. Non-Core vaccines are given to certain cats based on lifestyle, environment and general health. Outdoor cats usually get both core and non-core vaccines as they are subjected to more diseases than an indoor cat.

Core vaccines are as follows:

6, 9, 12 and 16 weeks – Panleukopenia (distemper)(FP), Rhinotracheitis (FVR), Calicivirus (FCV)

12 weeks- Rabies

Non-Core Vaccines include:

8 and 12 weeks – Leukemia (FELV)

8, 10 and 12 weeks – Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

9 and 12 weeks – Chlamydia

Vaccines are given to protect the cat against known cat diseases. The following are common feline diseases and descriptions on what they are exactly and how they affect your cat:

Feline Panleukopenia (FP) – Also known as distemper, this virus is a highly contagious disease and causes severe vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, nasal discharge and bone marrow suppression. It is the most widespread disease among cats and can cause a high death loss, mainly among kittens.

Feline Rhinotracheitis (FVR) – This infection is a widespread respiratory illness caused by a virus and is most severe in small kittens. It can cause a large amount of discharge from the eyes and nose. It is also known as the herpes virus.

Feline Calicivirus (FCV) – This virus has similar symptoms as the Rhino virus and includes sneezing, fever, swollen eyes, lethargy and discharge from the eyes and nose. Cats can also develop ulcers of the mouth eyes and skin.

All three of these diseases are highly contagious to other felines and they can be vaccinated against them by the FVRCP combination vaccine. This vaccination series starts at 6-8 weeks in age with a booster shot given every 3-4 weeks until the kitten is 16-20 weeks of age. A booster shot is given at 1 year and the protection can last at least three years.

Feline Leukemia (FeLV) – This virus is often transmitted through a bite from another infected cat and can include symptoms such as decreased appetite, digestive problems, poor coat, fever and swollen lymph nodes. As the disease continues, the cat will develop a weakened immune system making it susceptible to other feline diseases such as cancer and can prove to be fatal. In addition to cancer, the cat can easily develop tumors that can grow anywhere on the body and usually the result is fatal. For this disease, it is best to have your veterinarian run a feline leukemia test before giving a vaccine for it.

The FeLV vaccine should be given to most kittens starting at 8 weeks of age and receive doses every 3-4 weeks apart followed by an annual booster shot. Most adult outdoor cats get revaccinated for FeLV every 2-3 years. Indoor cats do not need booster shots for this disease unless they reside with an outdoor cat as well.

Rabies – The most feared of feline diseases as it is transferable to humans and is usually fatal to the cat. The rabies virus attacks the brain. The cat is exposed to rabies by a bite from an infected animal such as skunks, raccoons, bats and foxes. The disease can be transferred to a human by a bite of an infected pet. Humans can get rabies shots once exposed to the virus but they are extremely unpleasant to receive but it is critical to get the series of vaccines once exposed as it could be fatal to a human as well as the pet.

There is no known rabies test that can be done on a live animal and is always done post-mortem. Veterinarians are the only professional qualified and licensed to administer a rabies vaccine and it a legal requirement for all pets, including cats to be vaccinated against rabies. Vaccines start at 12 weeks of age and are followed up at 1 year and 3 years. It does not matter if your cat is an indoor or outdoor cat, they must all get the required rabies vaccine. A vet will give you a certificate and a tag for the pet once it has had its rabies vaccination. If you fall behind on this vaccine and your cat is exposed to rabies, the authorities can require your pet to be euthanized or at a minimum, be quarantined for 180 days. They take this vaccine seriously, so don’t miss getting it. It is required by law.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) – This virus attacks a cat’s immune system. Symptoms include fever, weight loss, poor coat, digestive problems, hair loss, respiratory issues and oral inflammation. Usually transmitted by a bite from another infected animal, it is highly contagious. The vaccine does not provide good protection against the disease so only high-risk cats, such as outdoor cats, should get this vaccine.

Two other diseases, Bordetella and Chlamydophila, are not quite as serious as the other well-known diseases but usually a vaccine is offered for them as well. Bordetella can cause a respiratory illness but healthy cats usually do not contract it. Chlamydophila can cause feline conjunctivitis and respiratory problems but if a cat gets it, it usually recovers quickly. Cats that often go to boarding places or the groomers can catch it so they offer a vaccine against it.

As with most vaccines, your pet will be better protected against all these diseases with the vaccine vs. not getting them in the first place. The rabies vaccine is required by law as it is transferrable to humans. When in doubt, talk to your vet. They can simplify the vaccines for you and the schedules in which they need to be given. Protect your cat as much as possible, even if your cat is only indoors. Many owners think that since kitty is an indoor only cat, they do not need the vaccines. However, that is just not the case. If you acquire a cat in later years and are unsure if it has had vaccines, treat it as if they have not been vaccinated and get them done. Your pet will thank you by staying happy and healthy. Call us today at (262) 347-0787.

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Since 1977, Pewaukee Veterinary Services has provided progressive veterinary medicine to pets of Pewaukee and the greater Milwaukee area. We put a strong emphasis on preventive medicine and alternative therapies aimed at keeping companion animals healthy and happy. Yet, if your pet is ill, there’s no better place to entrust their care. Our animal hospital in Pewaukee not only has the most advanced veterinary equipment in the area, but also the skilled veterinarians and staff to use it.