Feline Vaccinations: Information Resources

Last Updated on July 15, 2021 by Jenny

I get a lot of questions about vaccinations, so I wanted to put together a list of resources.  If you know of additional ones, please include them in the comments below.

2013 Feline Vaccination Advisory Panel Report – Includes guidelines on feline vaccinations; brochures regarding the procedure; and disease information on feline immunodeficiency virus, feline herpes virus 1, rabies, feline calicivirus, feline panleukopenia, feline leukemia virus, chlamydophila felis, bordetella bronchiseptica, and feline infectious peritonitus.

Vaccinations by Jean Hofve, DVM – Jean Hofve discusses what vaccines are, how they can help and/or hurt, and how often you should be worried about getting them for your pets.

Feline Vaccines: Benefits and Risks – Details each side of the issue and which vaccines to consider based on your pet’s risk factors.

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33 thoughts on “Feline Vaccinations: Information Resources

  1. Dementia Boy says:

    Y’all know that I’m a mad scientist, so please take that into account before reading my vaccination protocol.

    1975-approx. 1990: Followed standard vaccination protocol, whatever that was. Lost two cats to “cancer,” which presented as right flank masses without clear margins. Can anyone say sarcoma? I couldn’t, not at that time.

    Approx. 1990-2003: Pre-internet days. Began vaccinating cats at home (FVRCP)after reading stress-inflammation-illness studies in medical and veterinary journals. Vet used Fort Dodge; I don’t remember what the shelters used. Both made the cats tired. I can’t remember the vaccine I used (Solvang?)–it probably no longer exists–but it was great, both in terms of immune response (more later)and lack of side effects.

    2003-present: No vaccinations. (Last permanent cat entered home in 1997.) Yearly panleuk titers since then–incredible immunity. Wanted to give the cats calici when I first experienced calici in a shelter environment, but calici did not exist as a separate vaccine then and we did not know that we were dealing with a virulent form of calici. Instead, I relied on bleach and chlorhexadine. Even today, if people want to come into my house, they need to stomp on a bleach-soaked towel in a litterbox first. Hospitable sort, aren’t I??

    I’m not going to get titers in December. Really, what’s the point with a 16-year-old and an 18-year-old? If their titers are low, am I going to vaccinate them?

    If I were to bring another cat into my house–highly unlikely, except for fosters–I *think* I would follow the 8-12-16 weeks protocol with one yearly booster (FVRCP only). I say *think* because it’s been a long time since I’ve researched vaccines.

    If I still volunteered at shelters, I would consider calici. But vaccination is not immunization (parvo excepted), and even the virulent calici vaccine offers little in the way of immunity. It’s almost a misnomer to call calici a URI, like calling melanoma a skin cancer. It is, but… None of the pictures I’ve seen online capture what I saw at shelters.

    • Teresa says:

      Really do understand your point of view and I would do the very same thing if I had two that are the ages of yours. Thank you for the rest of the information and will keep that in mind for future reference and deciding what I will do later with my baby girls.

      • Dementia Boy says:

        Oh!! I hope I didn’t sound defensive or combative, Teresa. That certainly was not my intent. I’m afraid I have become a pedantic curmudgeon in my dotage, living in the woods, growling at bears.

        We all do the best we can do for our beloved kitties, given our knowledge, ethics, finances, comfort levels and certain intangibles that I still can’t quite grasp or name but that have something to do with love. (((hugs)))

  2. Dementia Boy says:

    This is something I don’t want to think about, much less write about.

    But for those of you who don’t vaccinate for rabies, consider the following if your cat bites someone, including another cat:

    As some of you know, I euthanized William after he sliced open Izzy with his perfect teeth. It was not a cut I could treat at home. Iz required surgery and blood.

    William was 24 and suffered from severe cognitive dysfunction (thus my ID). Despite changes in medication, his behavior was becoming increasingly unpredictable. I kept hoping for improvement, keeping visitors at bay. Mea culpa, a guilt that will stay with me forever.

    William had not been vaccinated for rabies since he was a kitten. He developed a vaccination site sarcoma when he was six.

    Izzy was quarantined and given a rabies vaccination before, during or after the surgery. I didn’t have any choice. William was treated like &#+!. By then, he had already forgotten what he had done. Post-mortem tests were conducted on William, for which I was billed. I was cited and fined for failure to vaccinate AND license these two cats.

    I refused to read the necropsy report because there is only so much pain one can take. William had dementia. He did not have rabies.

    Have I vaccinated Jolie for rabies? No. The county I live in is and has been rabies-free for nearly half a century. My cats have been inside-only cats for nearly 30 years. But it’s the law.

    Volunteering at shelters, I have received too many bites to count, including deep ripping wounds, one of which required surgery. I didn’t think a thing about it. I never expected anything like this.

    • Ragdoll Mommy says:

      I agree with you about rabies shots!

      Sooooooo sorry about William!

      I can’t fully understand the pain you went and are feeling.

      ((((((HUGS)))), and gentle Raggie kisses.

    • Teresaa says:

      Am so very sorry for all you went through and can’t imagine your pain. William was so blessed to have had you. You must have done something extremely wonderful for him not only by loving him but with his nutrition since he lived for 24 years after having a sarcoma that can be deadly. Really understand how you would not want to do any shots like that again. Someone I know lost a kitty to an injection site induced sarcoma and said that she doesn’t allow any adjuvant dosed vaccines any more because that’s what they feel pretty strongly caused this is her girl
      My heart goes out to you. Hope that Jolie brings you new happiness every day.♥♥♥

      • Dementia Boy says:

        Teresa, anyone would have been blessed to have William. I can’t take any credit for his longevity. Good breeding and genes and a gentle temperament deserve the credit. He was a very friendly, placid, dog-like cat, content to be bossed around by tortoiseshell divas, with absolutely no sense of self-preservation. I still remember when he wanted to go outside and play with a black bear cub. Um, no. Mom shortly appeared and the entire house shook. And the stoooopid thing that makes me cry is: He had perfect teeth. Perfect.

        • Teresa says:

          Sounds like William lived a very happy life and you took really good care of him and loved him with your whole heart. There are so many kitties out that that would give anything to be loved like you loved him. He was a very lucky boy! Hope that each new day brings you a little closer to more closure and comfort. ♥

  3. Teresa says:

    Know that everyone here loves their kitties like our own children and always do the very very best possible for them. Think that several things are really important when thinking about our kitties and their vaccinations and healthcare.
    1. Might want to consider taking them to a vet you know and trust. There are some vets who only see cats so there is no worry about them being stressed by barking, etc.
    2. I trust my vet implicitly and talk with her about anything and everything and she welcomes it. If you feel like they are blocking your questions and you don’t feel comfortable, then ask friends or read listing reviews to find someone who is board certified and has a good reputation. My girls have gotten the FVRCP at the 8, 12, and 16 months and will get a yearly booster. The rabies is also included because it is mandated in my state and even though they don’t go outside, there is a remote possibility that a bat could get in the house somehow. I would never forgive myself if they weren’t protected, just like I have their crates ready and waiting in case of an emergency – God forbid! They never have had a bad reaction and my vet gives a baby aspirin at the time of the injection (this covers them for pain and inflammation for 3 days).
    3. Understand where some folks are coming from when they say they don’t want to ever get the vaccines again and that is a totally personal choice, but what concerns me most is some have said that they don’t even plan on taking their cat in for checkups because it is too stressful, etc. Having had cats for 30+ years who are considered my “children”, and having had the same wonderful veterinary caregiver who not only is a skilled clinician but also stays current on all new veterinary topics, I trust her explicitly to check my babies for things that are not necessarily apparent to me. Cats are very good at hiding their illness and pain, and sometimes we don’t know they are in awful pain or very sick until it has progressed extensively. I would hate to think that I missed something like hyperthyroidism or kidney failure that could have been managed earlier, if I had only taken them in for a checkup where that would have been discovered. Just last year, I took in my 14 year old, rescue for his yearly shots/exam who I thought looked well and healthy. Come to find out, he had several teeth that needed to be pulled because they were in such bad shape. I had no idea because he didn’t appear to be in pain or sick. So, they extracted them and cleaned the rest. They also did blood work before the surgery which would have showed any other underlying problems. Now he is doing great and eating his heart out. But, my point is that I would not have necessarily known about those bad teeth had I not taken him in. Can’t imagine how much pain that would cause him if it has been left and abscessed. It could have been fatal had he become septic.
    So, even though many feel that they don’t want any further vaccinations for their pets, it might really be a good idea to continue taking them in at least annually, and every six months for geriatrics, so that any problems can be identified and treated during a simple checkup. Just something very important to think about that just might save your kitty’s life one day by just getting a check up! ♥♥

    • Janet Knowlton says:

      Teresa – I agree with you about the yearly check-ups. Very important. The schedule you have your cats on for FVRCP is so different than what my vet recommends or even what I have read. I thought they needed the kittens series which consists of 3 shots the last one given after 16 weeks and then a yearly booster at 12 months. After that both my breeder and vet have said that they are protected for up to 3 years so no further shot (FVRCP) is necessary until then. Did you mean weeks instead of months?

      • Teresaa says:

        Oh so sorry!!! I meant 8, 12 and 16 WEEKS and then yearly. Thank you for correcting me. Sometimes late at night I think I’m writing in a trance and don’t catch my mistakes. So sorry for the confusion.

      • Teresaa says:

        ASA is fine for cats IF it is a baby aspirin AND does not contain any additives. I think you might also be confusing this with Tylenol which is deadly to cats and is metabolized as a poison.

        • Ragdoll Mommy says:

          Hmm…. I am about 96% sure that it is deadly to cats.

          But not really sure. Maybe I confused it with adult aspirin?

          Have you give it to your cats? Are you a vet?

          • Teresa says:

            Then I guess my cats should all be dead and I just mean that truthfully. I am not a vet but a RN and know that cats’ are completely different from humans and are extremely sensitive to many compounds that humans are not. That said, every time I get my cats vaccinated, my vet (who is a DVM and RN),gives them a 81 mg. baby aspirin. Have to make sure that it is just a plain baby aspiring without any additives!! One of my Ragdolls, Grace, is very sensitive to the shots and had a reaction when she was a kitten. This has prevented any further reaction while also easing the injection site of any pain they may have.
            The effects of ONE 81 mg. baby aspirin last for 3 days in cats. I am NOT saying that anyone should give their own cats an aspirin WITHOUT first contacting their vet to make sure that their individual cat is cleared to have it. Just saying it worked great for mine and I have given it on other occasions to my other cats when they were spayed/neutered for 3 day pain control when they came home. Really helped them andever had any adverse reactions so far, but ALWAYS check with your own vet.

          • Ragdoll Mommy says:

            Hmm…. Didn’t know that. Because my vet said it kills cats. Also I have read it all over the internet that it does kill cats. But hey, don’t always believe your vet or the internet!

            I am glad it worked for your cats.

            Do you give them a whole pill or a half?

  4. Janet Knowlton says:


    This is a very good article on the risks with vaccines. I hope it’s ok to post this. I felt sort of at the mercy of the vet with the first kitten. Even though I absolutely knew what I wanted I let her talk me into the vaccine that had the adjuvant before I confirmed whether it had it or didn’t. I am mad at myself more than anything. The whole point is indoor cats do not need to be vaccinated as much as outdoor cats.

    • Ragdoll Mommy says:

      Thanks so much for the link! Very helpful!

      So….. How’s that Blue Buffalo idea I suggested you try on Finn and Bug? Those are their names right? Have ya’ tried it? Do you like it? Err… They, lol

  5. janet Knowlton says:

    I know there are threads on vaccinations but it’s good to see new comments. I have two Ragdoll kittens, 6 mos and 3 mos. Finn, the 6 month old had the kitten shots, 2 of them from the breeder, Purevax Merial Modified Live, non-adjuvant and the 3rd my vet was to give, Pfizer Modified Live adjuvant, I did not know at the time this was adjuvant and I was upset when I found out later as my breeder insisted that the kitten shots should be Purevax Merial modified-live (non adjuvant). In my research, no vet around here had that particular shot. I thought all modified live shots were non-adjuvant. Wrong. I hope to god Finn will be ok. There are several vets at the place I go and a different vet I saw said she would locate the vaccine I wanted and she did. So the new guy (still no name) will get the Merial shot on Saturday. I do not know how all vets are not on the same page. My breeder said NEVER give Ragdolls FIP, FELV, FIV, Chlamydia, or Bordetella. My only concern now is I may have to board them at some point and that is a worry about what shots I may have to give them. Sorry for the long winded comment. I am interested in the exact kind of shot others have given their cats.

    • Ragdoll Mommy says:

      I have given my two Ragdolls, everything BUT The damn Feline Leukemia thing, and FIP, and those kinda things.

      But our damn vet gave Nico a Feline Leukemia shot, even thought I told that stupid lady to not give him one!!!!

      Anya however has never had one.

  6. Lynn says:

    Thanks for your feedback Patti. Growing up we had outdoor cats; never took them to the Vet (because they were JUST CATS LYNN!) They of course, had a very short life span. That said, I often feel guilty about not taking my cats in for check ups. I’m fairly convinced that if you feed them well, groom them when they will allow and pay attention to how they are doing, all is well. Hopefully anyway. The trauma of taking my cats to the vet – with tons of dogs – and sick animals scares the hell out of me.

    • Patti Johnson says:

      I know exactly what you mean. We aren’t taking Pink Sugar back to the vet unless she’s truly sick and requires medical intervention/treatment.

      We feed her a premium all natural food, provide her with lots of water sources, groom her regularly (my hubby checks her eyes, nose and ears daily, stimulate her with fun interactive play, give her lots of locations for napping and alone time and I keep her litter box immaculate. Of course, we give her lots of love, attention and cuddles. Can’t really do any more than that to keep her nice and healthy and happy and loved! 🙂 <3

      (I know what you mean about the vet's office, too. Years ago I had a beautiful older yellow lab named Megan. Took her into the vet's office for an overnight stay to remove a fatty lipoma that she was biting at causing it to bleed a lot. She came home after her lipoma removal surgery with kennel cough and had complications from that and then her health went down hill and a few months later she passed away. So expensive to treat the secondary complications on top of the cost of the surgery and then we still lost her. I was so upset as I blame the germs in the vet's office for causing all the problems and for exposing her to other sick animals. Sigh…)

      Big hugs!

      Patti & Pink Sugar 🙂 <3

  7. Lynn says:

    After reading all the information, I hope I’m doing the right thing with my two ragdolls. They are 10 and 9 years old and I had them spayed/neutered along with “shots” in their first year and they have not been back to the vet since. They are strictly apartment kitties with no interaction with other animals or outdoors and are very healthy.

    • Patti Johnson says:

      Hi, Lynn:

      We are using the exact same approach as you are for our only kitty (Raggie named Pink Sugar who just turned 1 last month). Sugar is also an indoor apartment only kitty and has no other interactions with any other animals.

      I agree that your approach is the right approach considering the situation of our kitties being indoor only, etc…

      And, big thanks to Jenny for sharing this information with everyone!

      Big hugs!

      Patti & Pink Sugar 🙂 <3

      • Ragdoll Mommy says:

        Okay, I am now VERY confused! Do Ragdoll need shots? If so does it need to be every year? What shots?

        Why are people refusing to give Ragdolls shots?

        Any help is very much appreciated!

        Ragdoll Mommy~

        • Patti Johnson says:

          Hi, Ragdoll Mommy!

          For us, it’s a personal decision to not have any more immunizations given to Pink Sugar. What she received as a kitten with the breeder and the 3rd extra booster required at 16 weeks (when we got her) was enough for us.

          Our breeder strictly believes there are three vaccines that should never be given to any of their Ragdoll kittens/cats: FeLV, FIV, and FIP (Now this is on the assumption that all of their Ragdoll kitties will be kept as indoor cats only, which greatly reduces the need for these vaccines.)

          That’s all I know. 🙂

          Big hugs!

          Patti & Pink Sugar 🙂 <3

          • Ragdoll Mommy says:

            I totally understand that it’s personal as to what kind of shots you give Pink Sugar, ( if any). I feel the same about Nico&Anya.

            Nico&Anya’s breeder also says to not give them a Feline Leukemia shot.

  8. Ragdoll Mommy says:

    What about a Feline and K9 distemper shot? (Is that how it’s spelled?)

    I hate Feline Leukemia, it killed Tadpole!

    I also refuse to use the shot.

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