Health Care

Score5 (5 Votes)

Why vaccinate my cat?

Vote for this content: 5 4 3 2 1

What are vaccines?

Vaccines are medications designed to stimulate the body’s immune system to produce disease-fighting antibodies to help protect against disease.

Why should I vaccinate my cat?

Cats should be vaccinated to help protect them from many highly contagious and infectious diseases. When kittens are born, mothers pass on some immunity to their kittens through colostrum in their milk, but this protection is only temporary and the best way to ensure a long and happy life for your cat is to help provide protection with vaccination against common diseases.

What vaccinations are recommended for my cat?

It is important to talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s lifestyle. Factors such as contact with other animals, indoors versus outdoors, and time spent travelling or boarding all affect your cat’s risk of exposure to disease. Most veterinarians will recommend that your cat be protected against diseases which are the most common, are easily spread and which cause serious illness. Your veterinarian may also recommend additional vaccines based on your cat’s risk factors for other diseases.

How often do I need to vaccinate my cat to help protect from disease?

In most cases, kittens will receive 3 vaccinations, 2-4 weeks apart, starting at 6-8 weeks of age*. An annual booster is recommended. Your vet may have specific recommendations for your cat based on their lifestyle and risk factors. Consult your vet if you have any questions about vaccination.

*WSAVA. Guidelines for the vaccination of dogs and cats, 2016.

Diseases that can be protected against with vaccination
  • Feline Respiratory Disease (Cat Flu)

    • A complex disease
    • Caused by one of two and sometimes both, Feline Calicivirus and Feline Herpes Virus (Rhinotracheitis)
    • Highly common and contagious

    How it’s spread

    • Through direct contact with saliva, discharge from the eyes and nose
    • It’s common in multi-cat households since it is so easily spread from cats coughing, sneezing and grooming each other
    • These viruses lay dormant in recovered cats and kittens for several years (and possibly for life), during which time those cats can spread the virus into the environment and infect other cats


    • Lethargy, sneezing, fever, runny eyes and nose
    • Secondary bacterial infections may also cause complications. In young kittens more susceptible to infection, severe respiratory disease associated with pneumonia may develop and be fatal

  • Feline Parvovirus (Panleucopenia) (Feline Infectious Enteritis)

    • Highly contagious
    • Affects cats of all ages
    • Most severe in cats less than 12 months of age

    How it’s spread

    • By direct contact with infected cats as the disease can be passed on through body secretions, particularly faeces
    • Through an infected cat’s litter tray, bedding, food bowls and grooming
    • From infected queens to their kittens during pregnancy, causing stillbirths or kittens with coordination issues and other abnormalities
    • May be spread through infected cat for up to 6 weeks and persist in the environment for up to 1 year following infection


    • Depression, loss of appetite, vomiting, abdominal pain and frequent bloody diarrhoea
    • Severe dehydration due to persistent diarrhoea and even death can occur, particularly in kittens

  • Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV)

    • Less common but very serious
    • Kittens younger than 8 weeks are the most susceptible with the exception of those born to immunised mothers

    How it’s spread

    • By mutual grooming, fighting, sneezing or communal feed bowls/toys
    • From infected queens to their kittens during pregnancy and through their milk
    • Following exposure some cats are able to mount an immune response and eliminate the virus, however some cats can remain persistently infected and release the virus in secretions including saliva, tears, urine and nasal discharge


    • Loss of appetite, weight loss, anaemia, vomiting, diarrhoea, reproductive problems, infections, tumours, depression and lethargy
    • Suppression of the immune system, potentially resulting in secondary disease
    • Death (mostly due to the severe immune suppression and development of secondary diseases) can occur as quickly as 3 months or take as long as 3 years

The best protection & prevention against these infectious diseases in your cat is vaccination

Don’t let your cat get sick from a preventable disease

Discuss any questions you have with your vet

Ask your vet about disease risks in your area

More health care
How to clean your cat's ears

How to clean your cat's ears

Why does your dog or cat have bad breath?

Why does your dog or cat have bad breath?

Intestinal worms in dogs and cats

Intestinal worms in dogs and cats