Vaccinations are an important part of caring for your cat. Vaccines provide protection from some diseases such as enteritis (feline panleukopaenia) and cat flu (feline calicivirus and feline herpesvirus). Cats who are vaccinated will either show no signs of illness or are less likely to become seriously ill from specific diseases.
Core vaccines are those that all cats should receive to protect them against key diseases including enteritis (feline panleukopaenia, a parvovirus) and cat flu (feline calicivirus and feline herpesvirus). This vaccination combination is commonly known as the F3 vaccination.
Non-core vaccines are those that should only be given to cats in specific risk categories based on an individual risk/benefit assessment . This assessment will take into account the geographical location, lifestyle and risk of exposure to the infection of the individual cat. Examples of no-core vaccines include feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).
It is best to speak to your vet about your cat’s individual needs.
The first core vaccination administered to kittens is from 6-8 weeks of age, then every 3–4 weeks until 16–20 weeks of age. A booster vaccine is then given at 12 months of age to ensure that a protective immune response develops in any cat that may not have responded to any of the first three vaccines. It is important to follow this schedule to ensure the vaccines are effective.
Please speak to your veterinarian about what vaccinations are right for your kitten or if you are concerned about your kitten’s vaccination being overdue.
An adult cat who has received a primary vaccination course will require the core vaccination every 12 months or 3 years, depending on the duration of immunity provided by the vaccine your veterinarian uses and the cat’s individual circumstances. Check with your veterinarian.
If you have a cat who is an adult but has not been vaccinated or whose vaccination history or status is unknown, they will need two doses of the core vaccination, 3–4 weeks apart. A booster vaccine is then given at 12 months of age and then vaccination every 12 months or 3 years as explained above.
Please speak to your veterinarian for the most appropriate advice for your cat.
Your veterinarian will always do a health check before administering a vaccination to ensure your kitten or cat is healthy to be vaccinated. In addition, this provides an excellent opportunity for your veterinarian to fully examine your cat and discuss any health issues. This allows any health concerns your cat has, to be addressed as early as possible, giving your cat the best chance possible to be healthy and comfortable.
The core vaccines used in cats are very safe with a very low incidence of adverse reactions; the benefits of protection from serious infectious disease significantly outweigh the risks of developing an adverse reaction. If you have any concerns about adverse vaccine reactions or the health of your cat, it is best to speak to your veterinarian.
 Day M et al (2015) Guidelines for the vaccination of dogs and cats compiled by the Vaccination Guidelines Group (VGG) of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA). Journal of Small Animal Practice, 57:1-45. doi: 10.1111/jsap.2_12431