Important Cat Vaccines

Protecting Feline Health through Immunization

Important Cat Vaccines play a vital role in safeguarding the health and well-being of our feline companions.

These preventive measures have significantly contributed to the control and reduction of various infectious diseases that can impact cats. Through a combination of rigorous research, advancements in veterinary medicine, and widespread vaccination programs, cats are now better protected against a range of potentially life-threatening illnesses.

Vaccines work by stimulating the cat’s immune system to produce specific antibodies against the targeted pathogens. When the cat encounters the actual pathogen in the future, its immune system is primed to mount a rapid and effective response, preventing the development of disease or significantly reducing its severity. This principle underlies the success of cat vaccines in preventing infectious diseases that were once widespread and devastating.

Core Vaccines, Non-core Vaccines and the Rabies Vaccine

It is helpful to discuss feline vaccines under two categories of Core and Non-core Vaccines.

Core vaccines are the ones that each kitten should begin starting at 8 or 9 weeks of age.

The non-core vaccines are either in a state of improving development, optional as recommended by your veterinarian, or potentially optional based on the living circumstances of your cat.  The word “optional” is used here cautiously, as you will see described below.

The Rabies Vaccine is in a category all its own, because rabies is communicable between different animal species (not just cats) and to people.

When you receive your new ragdoll kitten from Riverside Rags, she will come with a health report and a vaccination record from our veterinarian.  You can provide this information to your veterinarian, who will then be prepared to seamlessly begin to provide care for your sweet new kitty.

Core Cat Vaccines

FVRCP Vaccine

One of the most common and important cat vaccines is the FVRCP vaccine, which protects against three highly contagious viral infections:

  1. Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR): This is a highly contagious upper respiratory infection caused by the feline herpesvirus. It can lead to symptoms like sneezing, nasal discharge, coughing, and eye inflammation.
  2. Calicivirus: Feline calicivirus is another common cause of upper respiratory infections in cats. It can lead to symptoms such as mouth ulcers, fever, and lameness.
  3. Panleukopenia (Feline Distemper): Feline panleukopenia is a highly contagious and potentially deadly viral disease that affects a cat’s gastrointestinal and immune systems.
Important Cat Vaccines FVRCP CH treats Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR), Calicivirus, Panleukopenia Distemper, and Chlamydia Chlamydophila felis conjunctivitis

All kittens from Riverside Rags are started on their FVRCP series before you adopt them at approximately 8 or 9 weeks of age.  You will need to continue and complete the series with your own veterinarian at the appropriate time intervals, as shown on the vaccination record that you will receive at adoption.

Chlamydia Vaccine

Chlamydophila felis (Chlamydia) is a bacterial infection that can cause conjunctivitis (inflammation of the membranes around the eyes) and respiratory symptoms in cats.

The vaccine for feline Chlamydia can be included as part of the FVRCP vaccine (making it a 4-way vaccine). However, not all cats receive the Chlamydia vaccine as part of their regular vaccinations. The decision to include the Chlamydia component depends on several factors, including the cat’s lifestyle and the prevalence of Chlamydia in the area where the cat will live.

Under consultation with our veterinarian, and considering the fact that our ragdoll kittens will be adopted into homes around the country, we give the Chlamydia vaccine as part of the FVRCP vaccine to all kittens.  When you receive the vaccination record for your new kitten, you will see this noted.

Non-core Cat Vaccines

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) Vaccine

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV), which is a serious and potentially fatal viral infection in cats. The vaccine is called the FeLV vaccine. FeLV is highly contagious and primarily spreads through close contact, such as grooming, biting, or sharing food and water bowls.

The FeLV vaccine is typically recommended for cats at risk of exposure to the virus, especially outdoor cats, cats that come into contact with other potentially infected cats, and kittens. Indoor-only cats with no exposure to potentially infected cats are generally considered at lower risk.

The FeLV vaccine is usually administered as a series of initial vaccinations followed by booster shots. After the initial series, the vaccine is typically given annually or as recommended by your veterinarian.

It’s essential to consult with your veterinarian to determine whether your cat should receive the FeLV vaccine. They can assess your cat’s individual risk factors and overall health to make an informed vaccination recommendation.  Please consider the following:

  • Are you a multi-cat household?
  • Do you have cats who go outdoors?
  • Do you or your cats walk through areas where wildlife frequent?

    At Riverside Rags we don’t automatically give the FeLV vaccine to our kittens.  We quarantine and test every cat that enters our cattery and work very hard to maintain a healthy, disease-free life for our cats and kittens.

    We meet with our veterinarian frequently, and if or when he recommends that we begin providing FeLV we will certainly follow his advice.

    When you take your kitten to your veterinarian, please ask whether the FeLV vaccine is recommended for your kitten.

    Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) Vaccine

    FIP is a complex and often fatal viral disease in cats caused by a type of coronavirus known as feline coronavirus (FCoV). FCoV is widespread among domestic cats, but only a small percentage of infected cats develop FIP.

    Developing a vaccine for FIP has been challenging due to the nature of the disease and the various forms it can take (wet or dry FIP). There have been several attempts to create a vaccine for FIP, but none have demonstrated consistent and reliable efficacy.

    If you have concerns about FIP and its prevention in your cat, your veterinarian can provide guidance on risk factors and strategies to help reduce the chances of FIP infection, such as maintaining good overall health and hygiene practices for your cat and minimizing stressors that can weaken the immune system.

    Since this vaccine is still under development, we have not yet included it in our vaccination plan.  However, we will follow the advice of our veterinarian when FIP becomes recommended.

    Please consult your veterinarian about the needs and circumstances unique to your ragdoll kitten and whether the FIP vaccine is recommended.

    Rabies Vaccine

    Vaccinating cats against rabies is essential for their health and is often required by law in many regions to protect public health. Rabies is a viral disease that affects mammals, including cats and humans, and it is almost always fatal once symptoms appear. Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent rabies in cats and reduce the risk of transmission to humans.

    Here’s what you should know about rabies vaccination for cats:

    Legal Requirements:

    In many areas, including the United States and other countries, rabies vaccination for cats is required by law. The frequency of vaccination and specific regulations can vary by location, so it’s crucial to check with your local animal control or health department to understand the requirements in your area.

    Vaccination Schedule:

    Rabies vaccination typically begins when a kitten is around 12 to 16 weeks old, with a booster shot given one year later. After the initial series, booster shots are usually administered every one to three years, depending on local regulations and the type of rabies vaccine used.

    Protection for Indoor Cats:

    Even if your cat is strictly indoors, rabies vaccination is recommended because there’s always a potential for escape or contact with wildlife that may carry the rabies virus.

    Types of Rabies Vaccines:

    There are different types of rabies vaccines for cats, including killed (inactivated) and recombinant vaccines. Your veterinarian will choose the most suitable one based on your cat’s health and local regulations.

    Health and Safety:

    Rabies vaccines for cats are generally safe, but like any medical procedure, they can have side effects. Common side effects include mild swelling at the injection site and mild fever. Serious reactions are rare but can occur. It’s essential to discuss any concerns or previous reactions with your veterinarian.


    After your cat receives a rabies vaccination, make sure to keep the vaccination records, as you may need them for licensing or travel purposes. Many places require proof of rabies vaccination when crossing borders or when adopting pets.

    Rabies vaccination is not only a legal requirement in many areas but also a crucial step in protecting your cat’s health and preventing the spread of this deadly disease to other animals and humans.

    We recommend that virtually all cats receive the Rabies vaccine when they are of age.  As always, it is essential to consult with your veterinarian to determine whether your cat should receive the FeLV vaccine. Your veterinarian can assess your cat’s individual risk factors and overall health to make an informed vaccination recommendation.  Please consider the following:

    • Are you a multi-pet household?
    • Do you have cats who go outdoors?
    • Do you or your cats walk through areas where wildlife frequent?

    In our opinion, consistent with our veterinarian’s recommendation, nearly every cat should be vaccinated for rabies as soon as they are age appropriate.  Since rabies can be transferred between different animal species and humans, the vaccine is very important.

    Most kittens leave our home while they are too young for the vaccine.  Therefore we don’t usually vaccinate for rabies.  However, if the kitten will be traveling to an area (such as Hawaii) that requires the rabies vaccine then the kitten will receive the vaccine when the veterinarian feels they are age and weight appropriate.

    Kittens who travel by air cargo after 16 weeks of age are required by the airlines to have received the rabies vaccine.

    Recommendations about Important Cat Vaccines

    Always consult with your veterinarian about local conditions, the uniquenesses of your beautiful ragdoll cat and their experience to determine how to best care for your sweet kitty.  Your veterinarian will guide you through the process of understanding which important cat vaccines are appropriate for your cat.

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