Though cats and dogs differ greatly, both domestic pets require certain vaccinations to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle.  While there are many kinds of vaccination options for your pet, some cats may need different shots than others depending on the area in which they live, and the different perils they may be subjected to.  The American Association for Feline Practitioners separates cat vaccinations into two categories: the core vaccinations and non-core vaccinations.

Core vaccinations for felines include Rabies, which domestic pets are required to be given. However, the World Small Animal Veterinarian Association regards rabies as a non-core vaccine; meaning the value of the shot remains contested as to whether or not it should be necessary for felines. Cats are also generally required in most states to be given a vaccine for the FVR (feline viral rhinotracheitis) or cat flu, which has been known to cause pneumonia and sometimes death in kittens. Other vaccinations include the  FCV (feline calicivirus) another respiratory illness, and FPV (feline panleukopenia virus) or distemper which is another fatal and severely contagious disease.)  Most vaccinations are administered within the first few weeks and months of a kitten’s life, and thereafter given as “booster” shots every 1-3 years.

Non-Core vaccinations for cats include chlamydophilia felis, the FeLV (feline leukemia virus), and Bordetella which should be given six months prior to any contact with a larger community of pets/show animals.  This vaccine protects against the kennel cough often shared by show animals or pets that board in kennels and are subjected to pets that have picked up colds or infectious diseases. Finally, cats are also encouraged to get the FIV vaccine for the feline immunodeficiency virus, or feline aids, which threatens many domestic cats.  Some also view rabies as more of an optional vaccination, though most responsible pet parents provide this shot for their kittens.

For a better understanding of what vaccines will be right for your cat, refer to your local veterinarian to make sure the kitty receives all proper protective shots.