Annual Feline Vaccinations

Feline vaccinations are essential in preventing common infections and diseases. The initial vaccinations should be administered starting from the time the kitten is 6 weeks old or as recommended by the vet; after this, the cat may require annual vaccinations which will be boosters. However, there is a controversy whether these boosters should be administered on a yearly basis.

Feline Vaccinations

Kittens can be immune to infections, as the mother's milk contains essential substances that will provide protection. However, this protection can only be valid for a few weeks and will not persist after the mother stops feeding the kittens. For this reasons, kittens require vaccines. The cat should receive a few essential vaccines which include:

  • Feline distemper or panleukopenia vaccine
  • Herpesvirus vaccine
  • Calicivirus vaccine (all these 3 vaccines are combined in one dose which is typically administered when the kitten is 6 weeks old)
  • Rabies (when the kitten is 16 weeks old)

The cat may also receive the feline leukemia virus vaccine as well as other vaccines that are recommended by vet, according to the genetic predisposition of the cat. The cat may get the Chlamydia, bordetella or ringworm vaccines.

Feline infectious peritonitis and feline immunodeficiency virus vaccines may be administered, but these may have side effects and may only be recommended if the cat is at risk of developing these diseases.

Administration of Vaccines

The vaccines will be administered once when the cat is young (i.e. 6 weeks old) and will require an annual booster. Some vets only recommend a booster once in 3 years; consult your vet and determine if the boosters should be administered on a yearly basis.

The vaccines may be administered as injectable solutions; however, there are also newer versions of the vaccines which can be administered through the nostrils of the cat and won't require a puncture wound, consequently it won't involve other injection side effects the vaccines may have (i.e. swelling, lumps and irritation at the injection site).

The Annual Vaccine Controversy

There is an annual vaccine controversy; some veterinarians recommend yearly or boosters every 3 years. They believe that booster vaccines are essential in preventing infections in felines. The administration of one single vaccine without boosters will not protect the cat for his entire life.

Other veterinarians opine that the vaccine administered during the first year of the cat's life will make the cat immune for life. These vets also consider the fact that certain vaccines may have side effects and the yearly administration may do more harm than good.

However, the rabies vaccine should be administered on a regular basis, as it is required by law to protect the feline and the humans as well.

Feline Vaccine Side Effects

In addition to the irritation and lumps at the injection site, the yearly vaccination of cats has been also linked to the occurrence of sarcomas, which are cancerous and may be fatal. Studies have shown that cancer may develop in 1% of the cats that are vaccinated on a yearly basis.