Booster Shots for Cats

Learn which booster shots your cat needs. With controversy regarding boosters and how many a cat really needs, pet owners are confused. Discover how to know which vaccinations are important to your cat and which are fine to skip.

Where your cat spends his time is important in determining which vaccinations are most important. Cats that remain indoors with no exposure to other cats often can bypass vaccinations without problem. If you do go on vacation and need to check your cat into a kennel, vaccinations, however, are a requirement.

Rabies Vaccinations are Necessary Booster Shots

Any indoor or outdoor cat needs a rabies booster every one to three years. The booster vaccination schedule is dependent on the date and type of the last vaccination your cat received. The very first time your cat is vaccinated against rabies, a one-year vaccination is used. After your cat receives a follow-up vaccination one year later, the schedule should switch to booster shots every three years.

Rabies vaccinations are important for indoor cats because a rabid bat can enter your home. If you have non-locking cat doors, there is also the chance of a rabid raccoon entering through the pet door. Many states require all animals to be vaccinated against rabies. If you fail to do this and your cat bites another person, he will be seized and killed to test to see if he was rabid.

Core Vaccinations and the Booster Shots Requirements

Feline calicivirus, feline distemper and feline herpes are the core feline vaccinations. These vaccinations are given to kittens in a series a few weeks apart, usually at six, nine and twelve weeks, followed by booster shots at one year. After this one-year booster, the booster shots are given every three years.

Information on Feline Calcivirus

Feline calcivirus is a viral infection of the upper respiratory system. Boosters are given every three years to cats that are around other cats. If your cat spends all of its time indoors, the boosters may not be necessary.

Symptoms of feline calcivirus include:

  • Fever

  • Joint pain

  • Loss of appetite

  • Pneumonia

  • Runny nose

  • Ulcers on the feet or toes

  • Ulcers on the tongue, lips or nose

  • Watery eyes

Information on Feline Distemper

Feline distemper, also called Panleukopenia, is a viral disease that spreads rapidly among unprotected cats. Indoor cats have a low risk of contracting the disease, unless their mother was infected and passed it to them during pregnancy. Key symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain

  • Dehydration

  • Diarrhea

  • Lack of appetite

  • Vomiting

If a cat has feline distemper, rest is important. In addition, you must monitor your pet for dehydration and seek veterinary care if dehydration or secondary infections are suspected.

Booster shots are recommended for cats that go outdoors or spend time in the kennel when you go away.

Information on Feline Herpes

Rhinotracheitis or feline herpes virus is deadly in kittens. Statistics find 7 of 10 infected kittens do not survive the virus and those that do often suffer from neurological damage. Symptoms include:

  • Sneezing

  • Runny nose

  • Pink eye

Booster vaccinations are recommended to cats that spend time in kennels or outside with other cats.