Your quick guide to cat vaccination

picuture of cat with syringe

Common vaccinations provide protection from major cat diseases such as enteritis (feline panleukopaenia) and cat flu (feline calicivirus and feline herpesvirus). Vaccinations are usually given by an injection under the skin, and they are designed to provide protection against specific infectious diseases. This vaccination combination is commonly known as the F3 vaccination. Cats with an unknown vaccination history and all kittens should be vaccinated.

Kitten vaccination starts when they are 6 to 8 weeks of age. Kittens require a series of vaccinations, every 2 to 4 weeks until they are around 16 weeks of age. If an adult feline has an unknown vaccination history or is having vaccinations for the first time, they will usually require two injections around 3 to 4 weeks apart.

Currently, first-year kitten vaccines will cost you $170 to $200 and average annual cat vaccines are between $60 to $80 for the F3 vaccine.

While vaccinations are generally safe, some cats may experience mild side effects such as temporary soreness at the injection site or slight lethargy. Serious adverse reactions are rare but can occur. Monitor your cat after vaccination and inform your vet if you notice any concerning symptoms.

There are two types of vaccines, sometimes referred to as core and non-core. Core vaccines are those that all unvaccinated cats and cats with an unknown vaccination history should receive to protect them against key diseases. This is the the F3 vaccination.

Non-core vaccines are those that should only be given to cats in specific risk categories based on an individual assessment, lifestyle, and risk of exposure to the infection of the individual cat. Examples of non-core vaccines include those for feline leukaemia virus (FeLV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and Chlamydia felis.

It’s worthwhile to consult with your vet who can provide guidance tailored to your cat’s specific needs. They will consider factors such as your cat’s age, lifestyle, and overall health to determine the most appropriate vaccination protocol.

Deciding on whether it is worth vaccination beyond the F3 can depend on factors like location and lifestyle. For example FeLV and FIV are more common in Western Australia. Diseases can enter the cat’s system via bodily fluids or injection into the bloodstream via bites so if your cat roams freely they are more prone to contracting FeLV and FIV.

Cats entering your household with an unknown vaccination history should be considered a risk and they, and your other cats, should be vaccinated accordingly.

There are other benefits too. Some local councils and boarding facilities may require proof of vaccination before admitting cats so keeping your cat’s vaccinations up to date will make sure you have the necessary documentation when needed.

Vaccination not only protects your cat but also contributes to all of our efforts to prevent the spread of contagious diseases. It helps maintain herd immunity and protects vulnerable cats that may be unable to receive vaccines due to health reasons.

Here are some resources with more detailed information that you might find useful.

What vaccinations should my cat receive? – RSPCA Knowledge base

Cost of Cat Vaccinations in Australia – Forbes Advisor Australia


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