Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing


Should I Get My Indoor Cat Vaccinated? Why & When to Do It

While you may feel tempted to skip vaccinations for your indoor cat, kitten and cat vaccines are just as critical for indoor cats as they are for cats who venture outdoors. Here, our Elk Grove vets explain why indoor cats need their shots. 

Cat Vaccines

Thousands of cats and kittens are infected with serious diseases spread by cats every year. That's why it's imperative to begin having your cat vaccinated as soon as they're a few weeks old and continue with 'booster' injections' regularly during their lifespan to prevent them from contracting a deadly but preventable condition. 

The aptly named booster shot "boosts" your pet's protection against several feline diseases after the initial vaccine's effects wear Booster shots for cats are administered on specific schedules. Your vet can tell you when to bring your cat in for their booster shots. 

The Importance of Ensuring Indoor Cats are Vaccinated

While you may not think your indoor cat would need vaccinations, laws in many states dictate that cats must have certain vaccinations. For example, many states require cats older than 6 months to be vaccinated against rabies. Once your cat has its shots, you'll receive a certificate from your veterinarian showing that your cat has its required vaccinations. 

Cats also tend to sneak out the door on their owners when they least expect them to, which is another reason to vaccinate your indoor cat. Your cat can contract one of the highly contagious viruses that cats are susceptible to just by sniffing around your backyard. 

Plus, if your indoor cat spends time in a boarding facility while you're away from home or sees a groomer, vaccinations are critical to ensuring their health is protected. Viruses can spread wherever other ts have been, so let your vet help you make sure your indoor at is protected. 

The two types of vaccinations available for pets include 'core vaccines' and 'lifestyle vaccines'. Our veterinarians in Elk Grove strongly recommend that both indoor and outdoor cats receive core vaccinations to protect them from highly contagious diseases. 

Core Vaccines for Cats 

All cats should have core vaccinations, since these are essential to protecting your feline friend against these common but serious conditions:

  • Rabies - Many mammals (including humans) are killed by rabies annually. In most states, these vaccinations will be required by law. 
  • Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and Panleukopenia (FVRCP) - This combination vaccine protects against feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia, and is often referred to as the "distemper" shot. 
  • Feline Herpesvirus Type I (FHV, FHV-1) - This highly contagious and widespread virus is one of the most common causes of upper respiratory infections. The virus can infect cats for life if they inhale sneeze droplets, share food bowls or litter trays, or come into direct contact. Some people will continue to shed the virus and FHV infection can cause issues with vision. 

Lifestyle Cat Vaccination Schedule 

Depending on their lifestyle, some cats may benefit from non-core vaccinations. Your veterinarian can tell you which non-core vaccinations your cat may need. Vaccines that encourage a healthy lifestyle will protect your feline companion against: 

  • Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia (FeLV) - These vaccines protect kitties against viral infections spread through close contact. They are typically only recommended for cats that spend lots of time outside. 
  • Bordetella - This bacteria causes highly contagious upper respiratory infections. If your cat goes to a boarding kennel or groomer, your vet may recommend this vaccine. 
  • Chlamydophila felis - Severe conjunctivitis is caused by the bacterial infection chlamydia. The vaccination for this infection is often included in the distemper combination vaccine. 

Indoor Cat Vaccination Schedule

Shots for kittens - whether your kitty will live indoors or be allowed out to roam -  should be given starting at about six to eight weeks old. Following this, your cat should get a series of shots at three-to-four-week intervals until they reach about 16 weeks of age.

For all cats, the recommended vaccination schedule is the same. It's a question of which vaccines are best suited to your cat's lifestyle when it comes to the differences between vaccinating indoor cats vs. outdoor cats. Your veterinarian will advise you on which vaccines your cat needs.

When To Get Your Kitten Their Shots

First visit (6 to 8 weeks)

  • Review nutrition and grooming
  • Blood test for feline leukemia
  • Fecal exam for parasites
  • Vaccinations for chlamydia, calicivirus, rhinotracheitis and panleukopenia

Second visit (10 to 12 weeks)

  • Examination and external check for parasites
  • First feline leukemia vaccine
  • Second vaccinations for calicivirus, chlamydia, rhinotracheitis, and panleukopenia
  • First feline leukemia vaccine

Third visit (14 to 16 weeks or follow veterinarian’s advice)

  • Rabies vaccine
  • Second feline leukemia vaccine
  • Third vaccinations for calicivirus, chlamydia, rhinotracheitis, and panleukopenia,

Booster Shots for Cats

Depending on the vaccine, adult cats should get booster shots either annually or every three years. Your vet will tell you when to bring your adult cat back for booster shots.

Fully Vaccinated 

Your cat will not be fully vaccinated until they have received all rounds of vaccinations (around 12 to 16 weeks old). Your kitten will be protected against the diseases or conditions covered by the vaccines once all of their initial vaccinations have been completed.

If you want to take your kitten outside before he or she is fully vaccinated against all of the diseases listed above, keep them in low-risk areas like your own backyard.

Side Effects From Cat Vaccines

The vast majority of cats will have no negative side effects as a result of their vaccinations. If there are any reactions, they are usually minor and short-lived. However, in rare instances, more serious reactions can occur, such as:

  • Lameness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Redness or swelling around the injection site
  • Hives
  • Severe lethargy
  • Fever

If you believe that your cat is experiencing side effects from a vaccine call your vet immediately! Your vet can help you determine any special care or follow-up that may be required.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your cat due for its shots? Contact our Elk Grove veterinarians today to book an appointment for your four-legged friend.

New Patients Welcome at Bruceville Pet Hospital

We are happily accepting new patients at our conveniently located Elk Grove veterinary clinic! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of companion animals. Reach out today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

Book Online (916) 690-8914