Are cat vaccines necessary?

It depends on the cat, but yes, they are. The vaccines they get really depend on the lifestyle of your cat.

Dr. Bob Parrish
Carolina Value Pet Care

What vaccines are typically recommended and what are they for?

First, there's rabies. Rabies is required by law for every dog and cat due to its potential for human health connection. We also have the feline distemper vaccine in cats, which does not require contact with other cats. The other vaccine we give to cats is for feline leukemia. This is a lifestyle vaccine for cats. Feline leukemia is a highly contagious, life-threatening disease in cats that they can only get from direct contact with other cats. So if you have an indoor cat that never has any exposure or direct contact with another cat, they can't get it. However, if your cat goes outside, even for a few minutes every day, there's a chance it may encounter another cat, in which case, I'd recommend vaccinating those cats against leukemia.

If my cat is going to strictly live indoors, do they still need vaccines?

Indoor-only cats do not necessarily need all the vaccines. However, if you have another cat that goes in and out, you do have to consider vaccinating the indoor cat. But if you have a cat that never goes outside and doesn't come into contact with any other cats that go in and out, they don't need to get all the vaccines. They would need to get the rabies vaccine, and I definitely recommend the feline distemper vaccine.

Are there risks or side effects associated with cat vaccines?

Yes, there are potential risks. The two vaccines that we have to be concerned about are the rabies and feline leukemia vaccines. A very small percentage of cats can actually develop a type of cancer from the vaccines. However, the vaccines that we use have an extremely low risk of this happening. Other considerations include cats being lethargic or sluggish after the vaccines. This could be from the vaccine, but it could also just be that they're exhausted from the car ride and the overall experience.

Despite the things we mentioned, don't let that discourage you. The benefits greatly outweigh the risks of any issues with getting your cats vaccinated. Please make sure they stay current, at least on the rabies vaccine, as it is required by law with good reason.

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