Core Feline Vaccines

Core feline vaccines are those vaccines that most vets deem absolutely necessary to your cat's continued good health. These vaccines protect against common but deadly viral diseases like feline distemper and rabies. They also protect against feline calicivirus and rhinotracheitis, two viruses that can cause serious respiratory infection in cats. Here's what you should know about feline vaccines and core vaccines.

Vaccinating Your Cat on Schedule

To offer your cat optimum protection from viral disease, vaccinate him according to an appropriate vaccination schedule. Kittens should receive vaccinations at six weeks, eight weeks and twelve weeks. Adult cats should receive boosters yearly.

If you don't vaccinate your cat on a proper schedule, he could fall victim to feline distemper, rabies, calicivirus or rhinotraceitis. Feline distemper is a serious viral infection that's often deadly. Rabies is also almost often deadly, and it's contagious to humans. Calicivirus and rhinotracheitis cause serious upper respiratory symptoms in cats. These diseases can't be cured, and your cat will struggle with them for the rest of his life.

Core Cat Vaccines

Your vet will no doubt recommend four core feline vaccines for your cat or kitten. These are the vaccines that vets consider necessary for all cats. They protect against feline distemper or panleukepenia, rabies, calicivirus and rhinotracheitis. These vaccines are usually available as combination shots. 

Local laws in the United States require that cats be vaccinated against rabies regularly. You should also vaccinate your cat against feline distemper, since this serious viral infection is usually fatal. Even if your cat survives feline distemper, he'll no doubt experience permanent damage to his nervous system.

Calicivirus and rhinotracheitis vaccines protect your cat from these viruses, which attack the respiratory system. These viruses can make your cat severely ill. Once your cat becomes infected with one of these viruses, he could experience recurrent bouts of disease for the rest of his life.

Non-core Vaccines to Consider

Non-core vaccines are vaccines that vets don't consider necessary for all cats in all circumstances. However, there are some non-core vaccines that your cat might need.

If your cat goes outdoors or has any contact at all with other cats, consider vaccinating against feline leukemia. Feline leukemia is a deadly viral illness that's very contagious. However, if your cat doesn't go outdoors and has no contact with other cats, he's not at risk for feline leukemia and shouldn't be vaccinated, since this vaccine carries a small risk of vaccine related sarcoma development at the point of injection.

Most vets recommend giving young kittens an initial round of feline leukemia vaccination shots, since kittens may experience lifestyle changes that could put them at risk of contracting the illness. Once you're sure your cat will no longer suffer any risk of contracting feline leukemia, you can stop administering yearly booster shots for this vaccine.

Some cats may be at risk for contracting feline chlamydia, a bacterial respiratory infection that can lead to pneumonia. If your vet judges your cat to be at risk for this illness, consider administering a vaccination.