Vaccinations in Cats

“Core” Vaccines, as recommended by the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) for all kittens and cats:


Feline panleukopenia infection – FPV or FPV


This is an uncommon disease today because of widespread vaccination, but the risk remains widespread. When disease occurs it is a severe and often fatal gastroenteritis, with profound depression, dehydration and collapse. It is very contagious to other cats. Vaccination provides a high level of long lasting protection.


Feline respiratory virus infection


Disease is caused by FVR virus (FHV-1) or the caliciviruses (FCV) - sometimes simultaneously. The syndrome is commonly termed Upper Respiratory Infection (URI) or sometimes, erroneously, “Cat Flu”. While not usually very serious, except in young kittens, it is a very common infection in unvaccinated cats and can cause long-term problems. Vaccination is only moderately effective as solid immunity to these viruses is not long term, and may be overcome by a high dose of virus in the immediate environment. Vaccination does significantly reduce the severity and duration of URI.


Feline chlamydial infection


This tends to be a particular problem in colony cats or in certain geographical locations. Chlamydiosis is a bacterial infection causing a painful inflammation and swelling of the conjunctiva or the membrane around the eye as well as upper respiratory infections.  It has also been associated with infertility in queens. Infection in colonies of cats can last for long periods because protection against re-infection (immunity) is relatively short lived. Vaccination can help to prevent infection becoming established in a colony and can be used in conjunction with treatment where infection is already present.


Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) infection


This virus is widespread and infection of outdoor cats or cats in infected catteries is common. The vast majority of persistently infected cats will die either from tumors or as a consequence of the immunosuppression caused by the viral infection. Current vaccines provide a good level of protection and do not interfere with routine testing for the virus in breeding colonies. Because the virus tends to take many months before it causes disease, infected cats can appear completely normal and healthy. For this reason your veterinarian may suggest your cat have a blood test to make sure it is not infected before vaccination. Despite vaccination, a few cats will still become infected with the virus.


Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)


FIP is caused by a coronavirus.  Infection with the causative or related viruses is common, but the disease is uncommon, although cases occur from time to time almost everywhere.  We do not understand why some infections lead to fatal disease whereas the majority of infections cause only minor illness. Vaccines are advised in some high-risk cases. Discuss usage with your veterinarian.




This is such an important disease because of the almost 100% fatality rate of cases once symptoms occur, and because of its potential transmission to people by bites from infected animals. Rabies vaccination is an essential part of the vaccination program for all cats. Your veterinarian will discuss the frequency of booster vaccinations needed for your cat.