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Feline Vaccination Protocols

At Crossroads, we keep up with recent advances in veterinary medicine, including in such common areas as vaccinations.  We do not believe that every cat needs every vaccine every year.  The goal of vaccination is to prevent infectious disease while minimizing risks of vaccine side-effects.  Cats have the unique circumstance that about 3 in every 10,000 vaccinated cats will develop a sarcoma (cancer) at the vaccine site.  This vaccination site cancer has been associated especially with the 3-year rabies (killed virus) vaccine and the killed-virus leukemia vaccination.  We have changed our vaccination protocols to minimize these risks for your kitty.  We follow the vaccination recommendations of the American Association of Feline Practitioners.

Vaccines we use:

FVRCP:  This is the "distemper" vaccine for cats.  This vaccination is very important and prevents cats from getting feline panleukopenia (distemper) which is a diarrhea-causing virus that can kill cats, similar to parvovirus in dogs.  The vaccination also includes calcivirus and rhinotracheitis virus, which are two of the viruses that cause upper respiratory infection (runny nose, sneezing, mouth and eye ulcers) in cats.  FVRCP is administered under the skin on the right front leg.

Rabies:  Rabies vaccination is required by law for cats in New York State.  Rabies is a fatal viral infection of the brain that people can also catch.  We have two options for rabies vaccination.  We have a Purevax rabies vaccine that is administered once yearly and has a lower risk of vaccine site cancer.  We also have the three-year vaccine, which is a killed-virus vaccine and carries a risk that at least 3 in 10,000 vaccinated cats will get a cancer at the vaccine site.  The three-year vaccine, however, is less expensive than the one-year one.  When you come to the office, the doctor will explain the choice of vaccines to you and help you choose which one is appropriate for your cat.  Rabies is administered under the skin on the right hind leg.

Leukemia:  Feline leukemia causes death in about 2/3 of infected cats.  It causes anemia, immune system failure, and cancer.  It's contracted through close exposure to other infected cats.  For cats that go outside, we recommend giving the leukemia vaccination.  As it is one of the vaccinations that is associated with vaccine-site cancer in cats, we offer an adjuvant-free Purevax leukemia vaccination that is given annually.  This vaccine carries a lower risk of vaccine site cancer.


Vaccine Protocols:

Core vaccines are vaccines that are recommended for every cat.  Kittens need to receive a series of distemper (FVRCP) vaccines spaced about a month apart, with the final vaccine being over 14 weeks of age.  They should also receive a one year rabies vaccine.  Kittens cannot be given a 3-year vaccine, as it still will last only one year.  If the kitten will be going outdoors, they should receive two leukemia vaccinations spaced about a month apart.  Leukemia is a non-core vaccine and not every cat will receive it.  The doctor will help you assess the risk of your cat for leukemia and will vaccinate appropriately.  All kitten vaccines should be boostered at 1 year of age.

Adult cats will recieve an FVRCP vaccination every 3 years after their initial series.  They will also receive either a Purevax rabies vaccine once a year or a killed-virus rabies vaccine every 3 years, depending on what you choose for your cat as described above.  If an adult cat is going in and out and has exposure to unknown cats, we will also advise that she get a Purevax leukemia vaccination annually.


If you have questions pertaining to vaccination of your cat, please ask at your wellness visit.  Our doctors are happy to answer these questions, as a lot of thought has gone into our vaccination protocol.