Does My Cat Need Vaccination?

Photo of Karen Dell

Karen Dell

Senior Editor • Backyard Cat Enclosures

20 September 2016

Cat vaccinations are essential to keeping your kitty happy and healthy for life. By vaccinating your cat, you make sure that it can fight off a range of extremely common and extremely dangerous diseases. Read on to learn more.

Why are cat vaccinations important?

When your cat gets a vaccine, it is actually being infected with a very small sample of the relevant illness. But don’t worry: this tiny amount is no match for your kitty’s immune system, which quickly overcomes the pathetic invaders. In doing so, the immune system learns how the disease works, making it much better at defending itself in the future. Which is good news, because some of these diseases can be super scary stuff!

Which vaccinations does my cat need?

The Australian Veterinary Association recommends that every cat receives 3 core vaccinations. These vaccinations are very effective prevention for 3 common, and dangerous viruses:

  • Feline parvovirus: an often-fatal intestinal infection, causing fever, vomiting, and severe diarrhoea
  • Feline calicivirus: a serious respiratory infection, characterised by mouth ulcers
  • Feline herpesvirus: a serious respiratory infection, with symptoms including uncontrollable sneezing, and eye and nasal discharge

In addition to the core vaccinations, the Australian Veterinary Association lists 3 non-core vaccines: feline leukaemia, chlamydophila psittaci, and feline immunodeficiency virus. Talk to your vet about your options, but generally speaking, you may want to vaccinate your cat against these if you’re living in a multi-cat household, or if your cat spends a lot of time outside. However, none of these vaccines guarantee immunity, and a much better option is to keep your kitty away from any trouble: inside or in an outdoor cat enclosure and away from any nasties.

How often do I need to vaccinate?

Annual vaccination has long been accepted practice in Australia. However, in 2009 the Australian Veterinary Association updated their guidelines to suggest that triennial vaccination is the way to go. Annual vaccination has been shown to cause tumours at the injection site, and besides, is unnecessary for effective immunity. The recommended core vaccination schedule for your adorable new kitten is as follows:

  • First at 8 to 9 weeks
  • Then at 11 to 13 weeks
  • Next at 14 to 16 weeks
  • After that at 1 year
  • Every 3 years onwards

However, note that an annual vet checkup is still absolutely essential - you just don’t have to jab your furry friend every 12 months.

Vaccination is just one element of responsible pet parenting: make sure to look through our Healthy Cat Checklist for all the best tips on taking care of your kitty.


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