Vaccination boosters for cats are typically recommended on an annual schedule, but in some instances, a three-year schedule may make sense. Learn more about cat vaccinations and boosters so you can make the right decision for your pet.
When it comes to adult cats, lifestyle plays a major role in determining the most effective and least invasive booster vaccination schedule. An indoor cat that is rarely in contact with other cats or animals, for example, may be safely given boosters on a three-year schedule, as opposed to an annual cycle, in most cases.
If your cat spends any time outdoors, even if it is in highly regulated conditions such as on a leash or on an enclosed patio, a more frequent annual booster schedule is necessary. Time outside, even monitored, leads to an increased chance of encountering a disease vector. The same is true if your cat spends time at boarding facilities or with a pet sitter, as they are more likely to come in contact with other cats that may be vectors for disease.
Vaccination history must also be considered when determining the best schedule. In order to even consider a reduced booster schedule, the cat must have completed its full course of kitten vaccinations. Otherwise, the cat won't have full immunity to the most likely and debilitating diseases.
If the vaccination history is unknown, such as can be the case with an adult rescue cat, you will need to discuss full course vaccine options for adult cats with your vet. In some cases, your vet may recommend completing blood tests to determine if your cat has immunity that indicates they have already been vaccinated. Once the full course of initial vaccines has been provided, then you can determine if a reduced booster schedule is warranted.
For some cats, past history with vaccine reactions could be a reason to choose a less-frequent booster schedule. Keep in mind that minor reactions should not impact the decision. Reactions like low-grade fevers, lethargy, and a lack of appetite for a day or so following a vaccine are perfectly normal and pose no longer-term health risks for your cat.
The main reaction that can impact vaccination in cats is Feline Injection Site Sarcoma (FISS). Although extremely rare, some cats develop a tumor at the inject site for the vaccines. If your cat develops FISS, it can be treated, but your vet will need to take more care in vaccination choice and frequency in the future. The vet may recommend lifestyle changes that allow for less frequent boosters, as well.
Contact a vet to learn more about cat vaccination boosters and what is best for your pet.