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Question DetailsAsked on 5/26/2011

How often should my cat get vaccinated?

Many vets have long advocated reduced vaccinations. One vet who has written in the Washington Post about this topic has received hate mail over the years from those with a vested interest in maintaining the traditional frequency of vaccinations for companion animals. Vets should follow the core guidelines for vaccinations for dogs and cats as recommended by the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Association of Feline Practitioners. Accordingly, puppies and kittens should be given a series of vaccinations at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age, then at 1 year, with core vaccine-booster shots given 3 years later. After that, a blood test can determine if revaccination is necessary. These precautions are necessary to minimize adverse vaccination reactions while maximizing animals; protection from infectious diseases.

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6 Answers


We have two dogs and one cat. Our dogs are small and have had adverse reactions to the series of shots. Our vet shared with us that the reason the vaccinations are given at one time is the fear that owners won't come back for the series of shots if given one at a time. . We would rather have one shot at a time for our little guys so that they have time to recover if they need to. We keep a calendar and have not missed a required vaccination or booster shot. We feel better about spacing the vaccinations and our boys benefit from this approach. This has been so successful that our daughter has taken the one vaccination at a time approach with her new born son! It seems reasonable to give the body a break and not bombard it with too many toxins if at all possible. It is inconvenient but worth the trouble as far as we are concerned.

Answered 9 years ago by Nannie


It would be nice if you could refer us to some websites instead of making a broad statement. I can only find guidelines for dogs at the AAHA site. Nothing comes up at AAFP.

Answered 9 years ago by catnip


YOU are correct; however, many veterinarians who want to keep that stream of cash flowing are NOT. I left one in the northwest suburbs for this reason, among other things. There are many aspects to this subject. Yearly vaccines are not always neccessary; older cats react very differently to the vaccination process; LOCATION of injection really does matter; and finally, the preservative in the vaccine material is one thing that causes problems (i.e. tumors & cancer of the leg, spine, etc.); so the type and brand of vaccine DO matter. If your vet poo-poohs these concerns when you ask, find another one really quickly! Oh, and btw, the blood titer is not always a true indicator of level of protection. If the body is presented with an attacking microorganism, it beefs up its blood presence to fighting level. But it can be below the threshold of detection until presented with a challenge.

Answered 9 years ago by kathleens


OK, I’ll do some research for you.

I had no trouble finding the AAFP guidelines -

Another interesting feline vaccination site is

Far too many dogs and cats in the United States are being revaccinated after showing acute adverse reactions to vaccines. Pressure from public health authorities to vaccinate all dogs and cats regardless of the risks should be confronted. This is especially true for animals that do not go outdoors and that, because of intense selective inbreeding, often have immune and other system disorders and react badly to vaccines, drugs and anesthetics. More research is needed in the field of pharmacogenetics to identify which breeds of dogs and cats are at risk from certain vaccines and veterinary medicines.

Local and state veterinary associations need to address this issue and offer blood-titer testing as an alternative to revaccination to avoid causing injection-related fibrosarcoma skin cancer in cats, which is usually fatal. And we need smaller doses for smaller animals. There is surely something wrong when a veterinarian injects the same quantity of vaccine into a teacup poodle and a Great Dane simply because there are no instructions to do otherwise.

Answered 9 years ago by aircarl


I never understood why my declawed indoor cats had to have rabies vaccinations ... or yearly leukemia shots. My Pennsylvania vet stopped giving feline leukemia shots; his explanation was that once the cat had one vaccination, and if she/he was an indoor cat, they were not likely required; not only that, the incidence of tumors at the injection site (leg, thigh, flank) were extremely high, and were cause for re-evaluation of this regime of vaccinations. Of course, since she never went outside, we stopped those shots. She died at 18.

My newest cats (ages 4 and 5) both had feline leukemia shots, and both now have small tumors on the very flanks where the shots were given. Coincidence?

Answered 9 years ago by ejfandtsf


[quote user="ejfandtsf"]

I never understood why my declawed indoor cats had to have rabies vaccinations


Rabies is different from the other vaccinations since it's a human public health issue, and in many places vaccination is the law. (I just checked on line - this is true in Pennsylvania, as it is in Connecticut and Massachusetts where I've lived.) Your cat COULD get out. Its circumstances could change - people do abandon declawed cats. I'm not saying you would. But the vet can't just take your word for it, much as YOU know you'll keep your cat always (and have provided for your cat in the event taht you're hit by a bus or your plane falls out of the sky). And if it's the law in your state, how would YOU write a law that says all cats and dogs must be vaccinated - EXCEPT those kept always indoors and owned by really, really responsible people? (In practice, since cats aren't generally licensed, if you don't vaccinate you won't be hassled unless your cat bites someone and probably no one will bother to follow up even then. But vets are aware of the possiblity of rabies out there, and the law if that's the case in your state. And the fact that no one's checking the vaccination status of the cats that are outside is actually *more* reason to make sure that all possible cats are vaccinated when the vet sees them.)

I was just in China. It's a shock to be told not to go anywhere any dogs or cats you see because rabies exists there, not just in wild animals, but in people's companions, because people can't all vaccinate their pets so there's a reservoir of virus out there.

Feline leukemia is a different issue - on my cats that stay in (by choice), including the one who does go out occasionally to sit on the porch, I've discontinued that one by choice with no peep from my vet. Does yours object? I'm surprised.


Answered 9 years ago by Anne

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