What Vaccinations Have You Given Your Ragdoll Cat?

Last Updated on November 6, 2021 by Jenny

Caymus on the Scratch LoungeVaccinations and Ragdoll Cats

Originally published May 28, 2015 – but I continue to get this question, so we’re having it again.

Update August 27, 2017 – Please see our interview with Dr. Jean Hofve here or listen to the audio of it below in this YouTube video:

A reader recently asked me about vaccinations and wondered if we could have a discussion on the blog.  I thought it was a great idea.

So, What Vaccinations Have You Given Your Ragdoll Cat and why?

I usually ask people inquring to read this article by Dr. Jean Hofve – Vaccines for Cats

I do give my cats Rabies shots and my mom does too – specifically, Purevax, by Merial. I don’t have them get it as often as they used to since they are 7. I used to do it every year and now I might go 1.5 years. My mom’s cats are 12, so they will probably stop getting it soon as titers build up. It’s still required by law that they have it yearly, but if I feel they’re protected from rabies, then we’re good.

My vet actually puts a different vaccination in each leg – I don’t recall the specifics – but they have a specific leg for Rabies, for example. So if that leg gets a tumor, then they know it was a rabies vaccine that caused it. They do this based on the AAFP Standards found here.

There was a discussion some time ago on Facebook where a reader asked a similar question and that discussion can be found here.

Please let us know what you do and why.

Some things to consider in your response:

  • killed vs. modified live and your experience
  • no vaccines at all?
  • Rabies for people in the USA and where it’s required by law

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33 thoughts on “What Vaccinations Have You Given Your Ragdoll Cat?

  1. cathybower@yahoo.com says:

    I’ve just recently brought two kittens into my life after years of not having a cat and was very concerned about vaccinations. I’m a pediatric nurse and do believe in the benefit of vaccines but was cautious about them for our two children as well. They ARE fully vaccinated but I only allowed vaccines to be spaced by 4-6 weeks when they were “due” for multiple vaccines. When our beloved terrier was a puppy I researched a lot and changed things for him as well. I knew from talking with my sister who has “always” had cats that they are even more sensitive to vaccines. I read the most current AAFP guidelines, the addendum to them and then read this http://www.catinfo.org/?link=vaccines that was referenced in Natural cat Care blog when I started looking into nutrition more deeply. I am planning to follow Dr. Pierson’s recommendations which are a “tweek” of the AAFP guidelines and make perfect scientific sense to me. Thus far my 5.5 month old Siamese mix has had two FVRCP vaccines (one at 8 weeks and one at 18 weeks) and will get a titer in a year before MAYBE vaccinating. He’s scheduled for rabies at 6 months. That’s all I plan to vaccinate for. Our 10-11 week old Ragdoll mix? had two FVRCP vaccines before I rescued him and won’t get another until he’s 18 weeks or so then a titer in a year. If the boys have good titers I may never vaccinate again for FVRCP. Same with rabies for the youngest; not until 6 months old. The AAFP also addresses SITE of injection which is very important to note because of injection site sarcoma in cats. These are INDOOR kittens. I may be able to afford cat safe fencing in the spring but that will be only outdor exposure with supervision. I also own a 22 year old Arabian horse; we minimally vaccinate and get titer for one specific virus. Based on that yearly titer I haven’t vaccinated for “Strangles” for probably 5 years.

  2. Noreen McCauley says:

    I almost lost my 4 yr old Ragdoll to a rabies shot, his reaction was so severe. I had to rush him back to the vet about an hour after the injection. They gave him an EKG, then treated him, but it was 45 minutes before he was close to being back to normal. His reaction was considered life-threatening. 20 years ago I had a young Ragdoll go into shock after getting vaccinations. He ended up at an emergency clinic overnight getting fluids and under observation, but he came out of it okay. Ann Baker firmly believed Ragdolls could not tolerate vaccines and instructed anyone who bought kittens from her not to give them. She was very adamant about it. She had some strange ideas, but maybe this was not one of them.

  3. Teresa Reid says:

    I’m with Patti on this. I don’t like the potentially harmful effects of vaccines, but when we go out of the country on vacation, our girls stay at the Comfy Cats kitty condos and they are required by law to have their vaccinations.!♥♥♥

  4. Patti Johnson says:

    Great repost, Jenny! Always an interesting discussion. Our views for Miss PSB’s lack of vaccinations beyond her kitten period haven’t changed since I originally posted them back on July 31, 2013. (Basically, we don’t vaccinate our Miss Pink Sugarbelle at all since she has gotten out of her kitten stage. She’s an indoor only kitty and we don’t travel with her or board her so her risk is very low for exposure to anything that might require her to be vaccinated. Now, if we had to travel with her or board her for some emergency reason then, of course, we’d have to get her vaccinated.)

    Big hugs!

    Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3

  5. Christina says:

    Noted this is an older discussion brought up too.
    Well, my first Ragdoll adopted in 2000 came from an FeLV negative home that advertised such in pride. Yet,they were against any vaccinations and provided peer reviewed articles from UCDavis regarding cysts and abcesses caused by too many vaccinations. He had to fly so we got his required Rabies.

    Wasn’t until he was thirteen when a newcomer kitty showed up and walked in through my kitchen sliding door. Started playing with him and since she had no owner I had to get both tested for FeLV. Then I just had them both vaccinated.

    Our new kitten breeder is more fixated on FIP. Even States the Ragdoll should not ever have the vaccination. I did some research and only found something substantial from Cornell. But, it also states you cannot test for FIP…so how the heck do you even know if the cat has been immunized for it? According to what I read, you can’t. The breeder can only go by honor with the purchase contract, i take it?
    Either way, the same article supports the Breeders stance that FIP immunization doesn’t really work most of the time bit is better than nothing.

    Apparently the kitten will be receiving a first series of immunization before he arrives to our home.
    Anyone know anything substantial and recent about FIP please share.

  6. Kattolio says:

    I see that this was a prior discussion, but here’s my 2 cents worth. Although my kitties are indoor cats, they do occasionally sneak out between my rescued/retired greyhounds’ legs and the chase is on. We have a large fenced yard, so it’s not so bad, but a cat that doesn’t want to be caught is a challenge. Because of this and prior experience from years of having cats, I get mine vaccinated with whatever the vet says they need. There are too may critters – coyotes, skunks, o’possums and loose/feral animals in my rural area for me to take any chances. With the exception of one kitty (15 years old), all of mine have lived to be at least 18 years old.

    • Christina says:

      Kattolio and other readers
      Have been a Ragdoll cat and ASH cat owner for over 40 years. None of the kitties died from vaccines nor did they develop abcesses or cysts. If your cat develops one from a vaccine, the vet is giving too many at once and too fast. Our vet is against doing this and gives shots appropriately.
      My Ragdoll of 15 years WAS the only one that I held off on until later because I didn’t know what I know now. But he was indoor only and was always around fully immunized animals. He was fine after his Rabies and FeLV series. But I will say that the vets at one time went Bonkers with giving too many shots and once I dropped him off for a tooth cleaning and he was “accidentally” given shots again!! He was already immunized!!! So do know it could happen if you like it or not. Only difference is my vet was honest.

  7. Christy says:

    Prior to living here I have no idea of his vaccination history of course.

    When Prossimo was taken to the vet for an emergency assessment/care and before I was the official “owner”, the vet gave him the Feline Distemper vaccination.

    Nothing since.

  8. Laura says:

    Thank you so much for posting this – especially the link to the article by Dr. Hofve! I’ve shared this post with several friends and have printed it out to take to the vet with me. Unfortunately my state requires rabies but our breeder, who is very responsible and health conscious, said her Ragdolls had an adverse reaction. Years ago I lost a cat (a tabby) to a vaccine-associated sarcoma. And my first Ragdoll had chronic inflammation that flared up periodically – despite numerous tests the exact cause/site could not be located and it was never resolved, even after a variety of different treatments. Ultimately she died of CRF – and I am now wondering if it was due to vaccination.

    • GeoValRo says:

      States may ‘require’ it, but you can take a pass. I believe the risk of the regular rabies shot is much greater than the chances of indoor kitties getting rabies.

      All these constant vaccinations make no sense. When is the last time you had shots?? Probably not in a long while, because that was handled when you were young and you now have immunity. Why are our animals any different?

      Before giving needless vaccines, please do your research and do not blindly trust the advice of your vet. Google to read about the work of Dr. Ronald Schultz.

      They are working on changing the laws to stop requiring the rabies vaccine every three years. It is a false and dangerous requirement. I am not putting the health and lives of my fur babies at stake!

  9. Ashley says:

    I posted this on the “Buying a Ragdoll” to answer someone’s question, but I’ll put my experience here too to hopefully be helpful!

    The breeder I got my boy from was also a vet and she highly recommended against any vaccinations except the core FRVCP, because ragdolls are more sensitive and commonly have bad reactions. Unfortunately, the rabies vaccination was required by law in my state – they will fine you if you take an unvaccinated animal to the vet even! So I had to give my baby the rabies vaccination and he got incredibly ill. Thanks to our lovely laws, he can’t get a medical exemption so every time he has to be drugged up with steroids and anti-inflammatories just to get his rabies booster. After these experiences, my nice, sweet boy who used to give his vet kisses now has to have mild tranquilizers before we go or he will attack the vet.

    I do agree with the initial kitten FRVCP and booster, and my baby got another booster at 4 years old so I think I’m done now. If I were getting a new kitten, I would have the vet do the core, but maybe have it split into the three individual vaccinations and have them done one at a time. Then, if kitty is sensitive, you will know what vaccine did it and can try to avoid any boosters. I also will not give my boy the FeLV, FIV, or FIP even though the vet constantly tries to convince me on the FeLV one. I just don’t want to risk it after his other adverse reaction.

  10. Aisling says:

    My Ivie is a 2 year old ragdoll who is due her next injections in September. I’ve only had her since October so this will be the first time I’ll be bringing her to get them done. I’m not sure the specifics, but her health/vet card has the stickers/names of the injections she received before. I’m planning on moving from Ireland to the Netherlands in a years time, and for the EU pet passport I will need to have her vaccinated so I guess I don’t really have a choice.
    Weighing the pros/cons is so difficult. You hear horror stories happening on both sides.

    My cat Wednesday who lives with my Mum and 2 other cats has never been vaccinated for anything. He gets his flea and worm treatments, and if he’s ever sick or injured I bring him to the vet, but I guess we’ve been lucky that he’s never caught anything.
    I want to steal him from my mum, but that would mean getting him vaccinated before introducing him to Ivie, and I don’t know if getting his first vaccinations at age 11 would have any negative effects…

  11. Janet Knowlton says:

    So we have two dogs (fully vaccinated) – would there be any kind of risk to the kitten if we don’t vaccinate after the kitten shots i.e. could the dogs bring home something to the kitten? Also, if we go away, I guess now I would have someone come in so I would not have to board the cat. What would the risk be if that person was from a pet service? Could they bring something in from the other animals they take care of? So many questions!

  12. Patti Johnson says:

    Hi, Jenny:

    Pink Sugar has had all her kitten vaccines. However, we are not planning on her having any more in the future. Since our baby girl is an “indoor only” kitty and we don’t have lots of visitors to our place, we don’t feel the need for taking a risk and getting her other vaccines (that may eventually harm her down the road).

    We did a lot of research about Raggies and vaccines and felt this was the right decision for us and our beautiful Sugar girl.

    Very warmest regards,

    Patti & Pink Sugar 🙂 <3

    • GeoC says:

      I am very wary of any vaccines past the initial kitten series. My cat is just over a year old and is due for his one-year booster but I am thinking of taking a pass on it.
      He is indoor only. Any opinions on doing this?

      • Janet Knowlton says:

        I’m with you. See Jerri K’s response above. I think she has it right. I do know for sure – NO rabies unless kitty needs to be boarded but I am going to try like heck not to board, NO FELV, NO FIP EVER and NO FIV. My breeder is adamant about that.

  13. Jerri K says:

    Ah vaccinations … a subject I have very strong feelings about! My boys came with their first two kitten shots and got a booster at one year. At four years the older two boys had their blood drawn and we were able to see what level of protection they still had. One boy needed a booster, the other didn’t. The next year, the one who did not get a booster was tested again, and he still didn’t need a booster. Both are seven this year and neither will get anymore shots.

    Rabies. My cats have never had rabies shots. Never will. It’s a law in my state. My vet agrees and doesn’t force the issue. She merely informed me that if they were to bite someone, they may need to be placed into quarantine to see if they have rabies.

    • Beth says:

      Jerri, if someone in this state is bitten and the pet’s owner can’t show proof of rabies vaccination, it’s an automatic death sentence for the pet! As past president of our local humane society, I’m sadly aware of the gruesome details.

      Our 19 1/2 year old cat couldn’t have shots toward the end of her life because of other medication she was on but we had “titers” done proving she was still immune to rabies – just in case.

    • Milos-mama says:

      I am scared to death to give my Ragdoll the rabies shot. I read over & over how damaging it is to our pets! It is the law in Michigan to vaccinate & I don’t know how to get around it! I am getting reminder cards over & over from the vet’s office my cat is due. He is strictly indoors & has his original shots from the breeder & 1 follow up distemper after I got him. When I first took him to the vet after getting him, OMG! his technicians wanted me to shoot him up with multiple vaccines that day! I told the doc what our breeder said & he didn’t push the issue. I’m sure the next time he sees our kitty, he will want to! I have a healthy cat & don’t want to go to a sick one!

      • RagdollCatMom says:

        You can simply decline the rabies vaccine. If your vet gives you a hard time for your decision, find a new vet! I walked out of a vet’s office when they tried to harass me into getting the rabies vaccine. “What if a bat flies into your house?” was the question I got. No one came to arrest me, and I found a vet who supported my decision.

        • Christina says:

          I tend to agree more with the crazy bat story. Is this some old wives tale BTW? Or did the original story vet out of hand by a few folks that had a few bats in their belfry?
          Pulling aside the crazy concept of how a bat would even get in a home…if it did…transmission isn’t made by a bat flying by. If that was the case, a number of humans need immunization. Heck, we have an area of town where fruit bats fly freely. Not all bats have Rabies. It’s transmitted through saliva if I recall.
          This bat story sounds wrong in so many ways.

  14. Beth says:

    I follow my vet’s advice because I trust him completely – he has taken great care of all our pets almost 25 years. Our Ragdolls got the same shots as our other kitties did and do. Most are every two years after the kitten series. We get rabies, of course – required by law and, if a pet doesn’t have it and anyone somehow gets bit there are horrible consequences!

    Parvo/distemper and feline leukemia aren’t mandatory but I would take a chance having seen what those dreadful diseases do.

  15. Amanda says:

    Modified live 12 week FCP intranasal standard kitten vaccs and they will get their 1 year booster the same way, when they are in excellent health. I would prefer a killed vaccine but it’s not available in the nasal spray method.

    Luckily, my vet has a brain and doesn’t simply follow county/state regulations for rabies vaccination, and has agreed that predominantly indoor cats who have limited and controlled/supervised access to a contained garden and are never kennel-boarded do not need rabies shots.

    The UC Davies report on over-vaccination of animals is extremely interesting. Ultimately, if a cat is protected with it’s kitten vaccinations and a first year booster it generally has sufficient immune response to counter any infection then I am certainly not going to stress their bodies by getting unnecessary injections that pad the veterinary practice’s coffers rather than ensure my pets’ well-being. 🙂

  16. Marie says:

    Hi, I was reading a post yesterday about the lady whose ragdoll died of kidney failure, and I was surprised at how it happened to so many of you.

    So I would like to say one thing, DO NOT OVERVACCINATE your pets. It is very bad for them! This thing about yearly vaccins is pure cr**. This is just a way for vets and phamaceutical companies to make money off of you.
    Think about it, do you get yearly hepatitis C shots? No, because your immune system is not forgetful, it remembers shots, just like cats’!
    Also, for indoor cats only why would you give all sorts of shots for deseases they’re never gonna be exposed to???
    Here’s a link that opened my eyes about shots. To answer Jenny’s question, my cat didn’t get any shots, he’s 7 months old now, indoor only.


  17. Heidi says:

    McDreamy has only ever gotten his first kitten vaccine…nothing since and he’s 5 years old. I often wonder if I should get him vaccinated, especially because he gets outside every so often. The breeder where I got him said it can be dangerous to get a Ragdoll vaccinated though, especially rabies vaccine…she told me she’s had cats die from getting vaccinated, and if they’re strictly indoor cats, they do not need anything.

    • plmcat says:

      i don’t get my cats vaccinated. i have read and seen too much as to why it’s just as bad as humans being over vaccinated. it’s a money maker. my vet said too that if they are mostly indoors then they don’t need all those vaccines. i know there is a chance of something happening but i feel that risk is less than the risk of them getting vaccinated.

  18. Teresa says:

    Mine get the modified live + rabies. Though I don’t really like them getting the rabies since they are inside cats, there is still the remote possibility of a bat or something getting into the house and if they were bitten, I would never forgive myself for not taking appropriate precautions. The rabies is necessary when I take them to their vacation kitty hotel.
    I personally feel that getting the vaccines every year is overkill, but have to bend to enable them to stay in the kitty hotel.

  19. Diane @ Me, Him And The Cats says:

    My cats are not ragdolls but all three of our cats get their rabies(purvax)every year (our landlord requires it, and im pretty sure its a state or local law). I can’t remember for sure, but I think only our youngest cat (about 1.5 years old) got the distemper this year, I think they skipped it on the older two. They don’t recommend anything else since they are indoor cats.

    • Rhana Wyble says:

      We are required by state law to have Rabies vaccine for our cats and dogs and thats it, but all my cats and dogs get all their shots. That FIP is a killer. I don’t particularly care about the FeLV once I found out even if they got the shot the cats could still get it. My cats were way overdue this year and my mom took them and let the Vet give my Ragdoll the FeLV and he was sick for 2 days, I don’t think it’s one Ragdolls should have. It doesn’t to that to my regular cats. I’m about to get a Persian and in the contract it says no FELV and no FIP. All my cats get shots and most of them stay inside and the ones that go outside stay on my frontporch.

  20. Janet Knowlton says:

    I am ecstatic Jenny is posting this discussion as I am so interested in what vaccines people are giving their kittens/cats and what their experiences have been. I am getting a kitten in 2 weeks and am not so sure what to do. I am learning there is a lot of disagreement among the top breeders as to whether to give the modified live version or the killed version. My breeder recommends modified live ONLY which I will continue when I get the kitten but I do have my concerns.

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