What Vaccines Does Your Cat Need?

What Are The Different Vaccines Available For Cats?

There are many cat vaccines available today.  Which ones your cat needs and how often they should be given can be very confusing.  The following explains what these vaccines are, and Birdneck Animal Hospital’s recommendations for them.  Our protocol is derived from recommendations by the American Association of Feline Practitioners Advisory report and other feline and immunology specialists.

Vaccine reactions can occur.  They are almost always mild.  The most common reaction is that the cat runs a mild fever for a day or two.  This is the vaccine doing its job by stimulating the immune system.  The cat may be a bit lethargic, grumpy, have some muscle soreness or off its food for a day or two.  More serious vaccine reactions are extremely rare.  This would be caused by an allergic reaction to something in the vaccine.  Symptoms may range from facial swelling to complete collapse. Due to the very small possibility of a reaction, it is a good idea to be around your pet for a couple of hours following a vaccine.  There is a suspicion that tumors have formed at vaccine administration sites due to some of the additives (adjuvants) in some vaccines.  Birdneck Animal Hospital does not use these vaccines in cats.

Core Vaccines

Core vaccines are those recommended for all cats.  They are:

FVRCP - This vaccine is often referred to as the cat distemper vaccine.  It consists of three components that are vaccinating against Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (herpesvirus), Calicivirus, and Panleukopenia (also known as the feline parvo virus).  Kittens should receive this vaccine every three to four weeks until they are between sixteen and twenty weeks of age.  Not previously vaccinated adult cats should receive two vaccines three to four weeks apart.  All previously vaccinated cats should receive a booster one year after its final vaccine of the series, and then a booster every three years after that.  Most vaccine manufacturer’s labels recommend vaccinating every year, but outside studies have concluded that most if not all cats will maintain protective titers for at least three years.  This is also true with the Feline Leukemia Vaccine.

FLV – The Feline Leukemia Vaccine.  We consider this a core vaccine for all kittens and all non-previously vaccinated adult cats.  Kittens are the most susceptible and get the sickest when exposed to this potentially life-threatening virus.  They receive two vaccines three to four weeks apart once they are over eight weeks old.  Adult cats at high risk are those that go outdoors, especially those that come in contact with other outdoor cats.  Adult cats that have not been vaccinated and are at risk receive two vaccines three to four weeks apart, a booster in one year, and then a booster every three years.  A cat that is repeatedly in fights with other cats may receive a vaccine annually.  Very low-risk cats may not receive boosters as adults.  All cats should be tested for Feline Leukemia Virus before receiving the vaccine.  There is no benefit to vaccinating a cat that is already infected with the virus.

Rabies – Kittens get their first vaccine at twelve weeks old or older.  At Birdneck Animal Hospital, we use a Rabies vaccine that needs to be given one a year.  There are three-year vaccines on the market, but we don’t use them due to the additives in those vaccines.

Non-Core Vaccines

Vaccines that we consider non-core and do not give are the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus vaccine, the Feline Chlamydiphila felis vaccine, the Bordatella vaccine, the Virulent systemic calicivirus vaccine, and the Feline coronavirus vaccine.

At Birdneck Animal Hospital, each vaccine is given in a different spot, so if there were an unusual reaction at a vaccine site, we would know which vaccine caused the reaction.  All of our vaccines are given under the skin (subcutaneously) and, therefore, cause minimal discomfort to the cat.  The FVRCP is given in left front leg.  The Leukemia is given in the left rear leg.  The Rabies is given in the right rear leg.

Our Feline Philosophy

At Birdneck Animal Hospital, we understand that visits to the veterinarian are difficult, and sometimes traumatic for cats, and therefore, stressful for their owners.  Please visit the Cat Corner of our website for more information on how we make your cat's experience at our hospital as stress-free as possible.


Find us on the map


8:30 am-8:00 pm


8:30 am-5:00 pm


8:30 am-5:00 pm


8:30 am-1:00 pm


8:30 am-5:00 pm


8:45 am-2:00 pm




Feedback from our clients

  • "Words can not begin to express our gratitude for the care you had given Hunter over the years. When his time came, he watched for you to come through the door and his tail showed his affection towards you. That was most comforting having you there. Thank you.""
  • ""Thank you so much for taking care of Maggie over the years. Y'all are the best and Dr. Johnson, you are the best vet in the world! God bless you all.""
    ~ J.D.
  • ""Your care for my beloved Mattie these last 10n years made her life, and mine much better….God bless each of you for all you did for us and I'm sure for all your other two and four legged patients.""
  • ""Thank you for saving my life." ~T.C."
  • ""I can not express how grateful I am for you and your staff… I appreciate everything you did in Beckham's treatment. He was so lucky to have such a wonderful doctor on his side. Thank you for all you do for the benefit of all our beloved pets.""
  • ""Dr. Johnson - There are no words that can truly capture your kindness.""
  • ""Thank you for the great care you took of Taco and the rest of our family. He is doing great now! He is enjoying running and playing with all four legs again.""
  • ""People who avail themselves of your services at the clinic certainly are blessed to have such a caring staff....bless you and your devoted staff.""
  • ""A sincere thank you for taking such good care of Dulce. We are so thrilled that she is back to her normal self. You gave her the support and care she needed in her darkest hours and kept us confident in her recovery.""
  • ""Just to say how much we appreciate all of you. You all are wonderful people. We feel blessed to have our beloved furry children in your care when they need it. Your professional knowledge and your acts of kindness have a beautiful act all it's own. You are a great vet, compassionate and everything good all in one. You are in our daily prayers.""
  • ""Thank you and all of your staff for the excellent care you gave to my wonderful Abbey, who was so much a part of the family. Thank you for all the advice and support you gave to me these last few months. I don't know how I would have gotten through this without your constant support. I will, and I have highly recommended you to family and friends, as I feel you are the best!""
  • ""Thank you for taking care of my kitty, Slingshot. He is feeling better and better. My Paw-Paw said that you took extra special care of him and I really appreciate it. So, thank you again for taking care of my cat.""
    ~T.B. (age 6)
  • ""Dr. Johnson, I don't know why you decided to move here from your home in New Jersey, but I absolutely believe it was so you could help me and Mickey. I know coming to someone's home is not what a typical veterinarian would do, but you are obviously an extraordinary man in a world filled with ordinary men….On top of that, your sensitive and wonderful handwritten note arrived and touched my heart…You are one of those quiet, unheralded champions who make life easier for everyone you touch.""
  • ""Thank you so much for taking care of Lola when she had her reaction, and your office was already closed. I know you took time away from yourself and your family and I really appreciate it.""
  • ""Thank you for giving me more time with my best friend. We are all so grateful.""
  • ""Thank you for all of your support for Maxine during her illness. All was very much appreciated and will always be remembered. I have related to all my friends of what a great doctor and staff at Birdneck Animal Hospital.""
  • ""Thank you for taking such good care of me over the last 4 years. I am doing well and both legs and feet feel great. You sis an awesome job on me Dr. Johnson, and I'm gonna have a great year this year and I hope to see you only for my check up. You guys are the best!""
  • "We can't thank you enough for the wonderful and loving care you gave to"Budkus" while he was in your care. He was so little and so sick and we were so scared for him. Each and every one of the staff members made us feel like we had the only dog in the world. Like nothing else mattered except getting "Budkus" well again. Our deepest gratitude to all of you for the excellent care and attention we received, for your encouragement, comfort, and understanding, and most importantly for saving his life! Thank you so much.""
    ~ J.,B.,C.