Cat Vaccinations: Everything You Need to Know

Most people know how important vaccinations are for our health. But, did you know that vaccinations are just as important for our pets? 

Although you have likely heard more about dog vaccinations, cats need them as well. Cats, whether inside or outside, should be vaccinated to protect them from a variety of viruses and other ailments. Some cat vaccinations are imperative, some are optional, and some are recommended depending on specific circumstances. 

Here we’ll go into detail on everything you need to know related to cat vaccinations, from what they are to  why you need them. If you are new to cat ownership or just want to do what’s best for your cat’s health, then read on. And of course, if you are looking for a furry friend to enrich your life, click here.

Photo by Yerlin Matu on Unsplash

What types of cat vaccinations are mandatory?

Some cat vaccinations are essential. These core vaccinations will be provided by your veterinarian and should be given to all cats no matter their living situation. Essential cat vaccinations include:

Rabies: Depending on the state you live in, the rabies vaccination for cats may be required by law. There are a few states without this law; however, it is always best to keep your cat up-to-date on their rabies vaccination. The rabies vaccination prevents rabies in your cat, which keeps them, you, and the community safe. 

  • Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and Panleukopenia (FVRCP): Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and Panleukopenia (or FVRCP for short) are also called the feline distemper vaccine. It protects against the three diseases mentioned in its name. 

Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis is an upper respiratory infection. Calicivirus is another type of virus that often attacks kittens. It is very contagious and will cause a respiratory infection. Finally, Panleukopenia is the feline distemper disease. It is the leading reason for death in cats. Its deadliness alone gives you a reason to give your cat the FVRCP vaccination. 

What cat vaccinations are optional? 

Many vaccinations available for cats are optional. Your veterinarian may recommend some or all of these vaccinations based on your cat’s lifestyle and habits. Talk to your veterinarian about the following vaccinations.                                                                                                                                                        


  • Feline Infectious Peritonitis


Feline Infectious Peritonitis is a disease caused by the feline coronavirus. Most cats do not contract clinical Feline Infectious Peritonitis or FIP, but the disease is almost always fatal. 

There is an intra-nasal FIP vaccine available. However, this vaccine is somewhat controversial and not 100% proven to protect against FIP. Always make sure to discuss your cat’s risk of FIP with your veterinarian. They can also help you decide if the FIP vaccination is the right choice for you and your cat. 

When should you give cat vaccinations?

As with humans, some cat vaccinations are only required once in a cat’s life. Some vaccinations will need to be administered regularly. The rabies vaccine, for example, needs to be given once per year in some states or once every three years in other states.   

Most vaccinations are given to cats when they are kittens. Kittens typically begin receiving vaccinations at around six to eight weeks old. The initial vaccination schedule will be completed in around sixteen weeks. Yet, they will require boosters of the vaccinations in around one year. 

Your veterinarian’s office will give you the proper vaccination schedule for your cat. Most offices also provide reminders when it is time to re-vaccinate your cat. 

How much does it cost to vaccinate your cat? 

Cat vaccinations do not necessarily cost a lot. They will typically cost between $15-$30 per shot. Most vets will lump the cost of the vaccinations into the cost of the total vet visit, but you will be able to see the cost of each vaccination in the line-by-line receipt.

You can expect to pay more for vaccinations during the cat’s first year of life. Because each vaccination has an individual cost, the more vaccinations your cat receives, the more expensive the bill. Kittens need a lot of vaccinations, and so the costs will be higher until they reach adulthood. However, once your cat only needs years or tri-yearly boosters, vaccination costs will go down significantly. 

Photo by Roxanne Desgagnés on Unsplash


We all want our cats to live their best life possible. Vaccinations are the way to help them reach that goal. Even if your cats live their entire lives indoors, you still need to provide rabies and FVRCP vaccinations. Outdoor cats, or cats that spend unsupervised time outdoors, will need the optional vaccinations described above. 

Cats make great companions. By vaccinating properly, we can keep them in our lives for many years to come. Make sure to discuss cat vaccinations and the proper vaccination schedule with your veterinarian. They can also answer any question you may have about this important part of cat ownership. 


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