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Core Vaccines for Pet Cats

 

Core Vaccines for  Cats

  • Core vaccines are for all cats with an unknown vaccination history. The targeted diseases cause significant morbidity and mortality and are widely distributed. In general, vaccination for core diseases results in good protection.

  • The Task Force recommends vaccines for FHV-1, FCV, FPV, rabies, and FeLV (cats younger than 1 year old) as core vaccines for pet and shelter cats.

The vaccine schedule for kittens and adult cats can vary depending on the type of vaccine (attenuated-live, inactivated, and recombinant) and the route (parenteral, intranasal) used. To review vaccine types, click here. 

(FCV) feline calicivirus; (FHV-1) feline herpesvirus-1; (FPV) feline panleukopenia; (FeLV) feline leukemia

For a printable PDF, click here.

FPV + FHV-1 + FCV

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Parenteral - Attenuated live

<16 Weeks of Age First Dose Administered:

No earlier than 6 weeks of age and then q 3–4 weeks until 16–20 weeks of age

>16 Weeks of Age First Dose Administered:

One or two doses of a combination vaccine

Revaccination

Consider at 6 months* of age rather than 1 year of age to decrease the potential window of susceptibility if the kitten had MDA at the last kitten booster2,6,7 (see comments here)

Revaccinate q 3 years thereafter2

*Note: This means an additional visit for the annual FeLV and rabies revaccination in young cats

Clinically Relevant Comments for Administration

  • Vaccination of pregnant queens and kittens <4 weeks of age should be avoided because of the theoretical concern for cerebellar hypoplasia15,16
  • Because of the theoretical risk of clinical signs due to residual virulence of the attenuated virus in an immunocompromised patient, consider avoiding in cats with retrovirus infections17,18
  • Provides cross-protection to canine parvovirus-219,20
  • Considered by many clinicians to be their first choice for protection against FPV, especially in high-risk cats owing to more rapid protective response than inactivated vaccines16,21,22
  • For cats going into boarding or other high-exposure, stressful situations, revaccination 7–10 days prior to boarding may be warranted, particularly if the cat has not been vaccinated in the preceding year
  • Cats residing in a high-risk environment when presented for initial vaccination may benefit from administration of two doses of a combination vaccine 2–4 weeks apart

Parenteral - Inactivated

<16 Weeks of Age First Dose Administered:

No earlier than 6 weeks of age and then q 3–4 weeks until 16–20 weeks of age

>16 Weeks of Age First Dose Administered:

Two doses q 3–4 weeks apart

Revaccination

Consider at 6 months* of age rather than 1 year of age to decrease the potential window of susceptibility if the kitten had MDA at the last kitten booster2,6,7 (see comments here)

Revaccinate q 3 years thereafter2

*Note: This means an additional visit for the annual FeLV and rabies revaccination in young cats

Clinically Relevant Comments for Administration

  • Likely safer for use in pregnant cats and those with retrovirus infections
  • Administration should not be avoided in cats with retroviral infection because they can develop more severe clinical signs if exposed to FPV and upper respiratory infections17
  • Provides cross-protection to canine parvovirus-219,20
  • Dual-strain calicivirus vaccines may provide broader cross-protection23
  • For cats going into boarding or other high-exposure, stressful situations, revaccination 7–10 days prior to boarding may be warranted, particularly if the cat has not been vaccinated in the preceding year

Intranasal - Attenuated live

<16 Weeks of Age First Dose Administered:

No earlier than 6 weeks of age and then q 3–4 weeks until 16–20 weeks of age

>16 Weeks of Age First Dose Administered:

One dose and then yearly thereafter

Revaccination

Revaccinate annually

Revaccination can be helpful in mitigating upper respiratory infections in stressful/boarding situations

Clinically Relevant Comments for Administration

  • Provides faster protection, which is especially relevant in high-risk populations and with kittens against respiratory disease24
  • Consider vaccination simultaneously with parenteral FPV25
  • Might cause transient clinical signs of respiratory disease
  • For cats going into boarding or other high-exposure, stressful situations, revaccination 7–10 days prior to boarding may be warranted, particularly if the cat has not been vaccinated in the preceding year

FHV-1 + FCV

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Intranasal - Attenuated live

<16 Weeks of Age First Dose Administered:

Start at 4–6 weeks of age and then q 3–4 weeks until 16–20 weeks of age

>16 Weeks of Age First Dose Administered:

One dose and then yearly thereafter

Revaccination

Revaccinate annually

Revaccination can be helpful in mitigating upper respiratory infections in stressful/boarding situations

Clinically Relevant Comments for Administration

  • No protection against FPV
  • Provides faster protection, which is especially relevant in high-risk populations and with kittens against respiratory disease24
  • Might cause transient clinical signs of respiratory disease
  • Although mucosal vaccines are not generally considered impacted by MDA interference, the Task Force feels the regimen for <16-week-old kittens is ideal to prevent morbidity from FHV-1 and FCV in very young kittens
  • For cats going into boarding or other high-exposure, stressful situations, revaccination 7–10 days prior to boarding may be warranted, particularly if the cat has not been vaccinated in the preceding year

FELV

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Recombinant

<16 Weeks of Age First Dose Administered:

Two doses 3–4 weeks apart beginning as early as 8 weeks of age

>16 Weeks of Age First Dose Administered:

Two doses 3–4 weeks apart

Revaccination

Revaccinate 12 months after the last dose in the series then annually for individual cats at high risk of regular exposure through encountering FeLV+ cats and cats of unknown FeLV status either indoors or outdoors13

Clinically Relevant Comments for Administration

  • Considered a core vaccine for kittens and young adult cats < 1 year of age owing to age-related susceptibility
  • Considered a non-core vaccine for low-risk adult cats (no potential exposure to other FeLV+ cats or cats of unknown FeLV status).
  • Test to establish FeLV antigen status prior to vaccination.
  • There is conflicting evidence in the literature regarding efficacy and safety when comparing recombinant and inactivated vaccines. 12–14,28–30
  • The Task Force acknowledges that if an FPV-FHV-1-FCV vaccine is administered at 6 months of age, an additional visit will be required to facilitate vaccinating 12 months after the last FeLV vaccine in the kitten series

Inactivated

<16 Weeks of Age First Dose Administered:

Two doses 3–4 weeks apart beginning as early as 8 weeks of age

>16 Weeks of Age First Dose Administered:

Two doses 3–4 weeks apart

Revaccination

Revaccinate at 12 months after the last dose in the series and then consider revaccination:*

  • Annually for individual cats with regular exposure through living with FeLV+ cats and cats of unknown FeLV status either indoors or outdoors.
  • Every 2–3 years, where product licensure allows, for individual adult cats less likely to have regular exposure to FeLV+ cats.26,27*

*At-risk (fighting, outdoor lifestyle, etc.) adult cats should continue to be vaccinated against FeLV annually. The consensus of the Task Force is revaccination every 2 years in periodic exposure situations in mature cats. Where vaccines with a 3-year duration of immunity are available, their use can be considered

Clinically Relevant Comments for Administration

  • Considered a core vaccine for kittens and young adult cats < 1 year of age owing to age-related susceptibility.
  • Considered a non-core vaccine for low-risk adult cats (no potential exposure to other FeLV+ cats or cats of unknown FeLV status).
  • Test to establish FeLV antigen status prior to vaccination.
  • There is conflicting evidence in the literature regarding efficacy and safety when comparing recombinant and inactivated vaccines.12–14,28–30
  • The Task Force acknowledges that if an FPV-FHV-1-FCV vaccine is administered at 6 months of age, an additional visit will be required to facilitate vaccinating 12 months after the last FeLV vaccine in the kitten series.

RABIES

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Recombinant

Administration Instructions

Follow vaccine label instructions and local laws. See rabiesaware.org for additional information on state-level rabies regulations and laws. 

Clinically Relevant Comments for Administration

  • There is conflicting evidence in the literature regarding safety when comparing recombinant and inactivated vaccines.12,30
  • Where rabies vaccination is required, the frequency of vaccination may differ based on local statutes or requirements. Veterinarians should be familiar with, and adhere to, local requirements.

Inactivated

Administration Instructions

Follow vaccine label instructions and local laws. See rabiesaware.org for additional information on state-level rabies regulations and laws. 

Clinically Relevant Comments for Administration

  • There is conflicting evidence in the literature regarding safety when comparing recombinant and inactivated vaccines.12,30
  • Where rabies vaccination is required, the frequency of vaccination may differ based on local statutes or requirements. Veterinarians should be familiar with, and adhere to, local requirements.
  • When local laws/regulations permit, the Task Force recommends a 3-year vaccination interval using a 3-year labeled vaccine.

See rabiesaware.org for additional information on state-level rabies regulations and laws. 

Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA Inc., Elanco Animal Health, Merck Animal Health, and Zoetis Petcare supported the development of the
2020 AAHA/AAFP Feline Vaccination Guidelines and resources through an educational grant to AAHA.