Kittens should also be vaccinated at 8, 12 and 16 weeks and then be boosted one year later. Most cats should be boosted every 2 years after that. Again vaccination titers are available for cats that have medical issues, serious diseases, or have had adverse reactions to vaccinations. The FVRCP vaccination protects cats from Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia virus infections. All cats, even those living indoors exclusively, should be protected against these diseases, as kittens and cats can become infected without coming into direct contact with other cats.
The Rabies vaccination is not required by law in Montana, but is a very good idea, even for cats that live indoors only. About 3 to 4% of bats that are sent to the State Diagnostic Laboratory in Bozeman test positive for rabies. Bats that fly around happily catching insects are most likely not rabies infected. However, bats that crawl into mail boxes, flitter into windows, or fly around in your house, are likely not healthy and may be infected with rabies. Even the most laid-back and sedate cat can unlikely resist chasing such as bat, and is thus at a high risk of getting bitten and infected if not vaccinated. Rabies continues to be a serious human risk with either very costly and or dire consequences should you become exposed, thus all cats should be rabies vaccinated to the cats and us humans safe.
Non Core Vaccinations
FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus) and FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) infections are closely related to the human HIV virus. Just like HIV, there is no cure, once an animal is FeLV or FIV infected and the animals are most often euthanized, as they pose a significant risk to other cats. FeLV is most commonly seen in female cats, as infection often occurs during social grooming and other close contact. FIV infections are seen most commonly in male cats, as they are frequently infected during fights. All cats that are either outside unsupervised, or come into contact with outdoor cats, should be FeLV vaccinated. We start the FeLV vaccination at 12 weeks of age and then boost it again at 16 weeks. After that, it should be boosted one year later and then every other year after that.
FIV vaccinations are somewhat controversial at this time, because there is no test currently available that would allow us to differentiate between a cat that has a fatal infection and a cat that was vaccinated. Why is this important? Let’s say your cat runs away and gets picked up by a Good Samaritan or the Humane Society. To protect the other cats from possible infection, stray cats routinely FeLV and FIV tested. If your cat was FIV vaccinated she will test positive for FIV and thus would most likely be euthanized, even though she does not carry the fatal disease or would pose any threat to the other cats. Cats that live indoors only and do not come into contact with stray or outdoor cats, do not need to be FeLV vaccinated as transmission does require close contact.
Another interesting vaccination is the FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis) vaccination. This vaccination has been on the marked for several years and is, unfortunately, still sold today. To this date, there is no research to suggest that this vaccination actually protects cats from FIP infection. It appears that vaccinated cats that are then infected with the corona virus strain that causes FIP will die faster than the cats that were not vaccinated. We thus do not recommend giving this vaccination.