In general, if your cat is indoor only and doesn’t have exposure to other cats, he or she should have gone through a full kitten series (one vaccine every three to four weeks from six weeks of age until sixteen weeks of age) and then an annual feline distemper and rabies vaccine for three to five more years. After that, your cat should have an annual exam, but vaccines could be reduced to every two to three years, depending on our state’s law for rabies.
If your cat is exposed to the great outdoors, or if you are fostering or rescuing lots of cats, your cat should potentially have annual vaccines in addition to the feline leukemia (FeLV) vaccine. Because the FeLV vaccine isn’t as effective as the feline distemper vaccine (see “Should I get my cat vaccinated for feline leukemia?”), consult your veterinarian about whether or not your cat really needs this, and if the risks outweigh the benefits. If you cat doesn’t have exposure to Lyme disease, giardia, or FeLV, I don’t think it’s necessary to give your cat extra vaccines.
Utilize appropriate guidelines such as the American Association of Feline Practitioners Feline Vaccine Advisory Panel Report (which can be found at the AAFP site as well as veterinary sources such as the Cornell Feline Health Center on the Internet) to help you and your veterinarian work together to establish an appropriate protocol for your cat.
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