Mandatory vaccinations for cats

, medical expert
Last reviewed: 19.10.2021

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Veterinarians divided the vaccines into two large categories, as well as a small third category. Mandatory vaccinations are vaccinations that must be made to every cat at a certain time in her life. Optional vaccinations are vaccinations that are necessary only for some cats, depending on factors such as geographical location and mode of life. Other vaccinations are also available, but they are usually not recommended to cats.

Panleukopenia (mandatory vaccination)

The first vaccination against panleukopenia (the virus of panleukopenia of cats) should be done at the age of 6 to 8 weeks, until the kitten gets into a new house where there can be other cats. If the kitten is particularly at risk in the area where there are cases of the disease, the vaccine can be done at the age of 6 weeks and then every three to four weeks until it turns 16 weeks old. Discuss this with a veterinarian.

After the initial kitten vaccination series, a second injection at the age of 1 to 2 years may be sufficient for cats that communicate with other cats, as exposure to the disease enhances immunity. A second injection is recommended after a year, and then no more often than every three years.

Two types of injection vaccines are available. The first is a killed virus, the second is a modified live strain. A vaccine for instillation into the nose is also available. A vaccine based on a modified live virus is not recommended for pregnant cats and kittens younger than 4 weeks. Vaccines based on the killed virus may be more suitable in groups where there is no disease, since there is no risk of reversion of virulence.

The vaccination against panleukopenia is often combined with vaccinations from a complex of viral respiratory diseases of cats, it is done by one injection.

Complex of viral respiratory diseases of cats (mandatory vaccination)

Your veterinarian may recommend an injection vaccine containing strains of herpes simplex virus (VHC) and catcivirus of cats. They are usually combined with vaccination against panleukopenia and are done at least twice, by one injection, the last inoculation not earlier than the age of 16 weeks. Kittens can be vaccinated from 6 weeks.

Young and adult cats should receive two initial doses, which are administered with a difference of three to four weeks. Both kittens and adult cats are recommended to have a second injection in a year and then every three years.

Despite the fact that vaccines against viral respiratory diseases are highly effective, they do not prevent all cases of the disease. A cat may be exposed to individual strains of the virus that the vaccine does not resist, or the infection can be so severe that it outweighs the protection. If this occurs, the disease usually proceeds more easily than in an unvaccinated cat. Vaccination does not prevent the state of carrier in cats, which all the same become infected.

Vaccines from respiratory viruses are available as injections based on a modified live virus, killed virus, and also in the form of droplets in the nose based on a modified live virus. If the vaccine is instilled in the nose, sneezing and discharge from the nose may appear. A vaccine based on a killed virus is preferable to pregnant cats and groups where there is no disease, since there is no risk of reversion of virulence.

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Virulent systemic caliciviral disease of cats

Recently, the use of the new CaliciVax vaccine in the control of virulent systemic caliciviral disease of cats has begun. This is an adjuvant vaccine based on the killed virus. The CaliciVax vaccine contains a strain of virulent systemic calicivirus of cats, as well as an older strain of calicivirus of cats. It is designed to vaccinate healthy cats aged 8 to 10 weeks, with a repeated dose three to four weeks and an annual re-injection. However, the risk of using an adjuvant vaccine may not be worth it unless you have confirmed the presence of virulent systemic calicivirus in cats.

This vaccine was introduced in 2007, after the newest vaccination guidelines were issued by the American Association of Felinology Practitioners. Its ultimate effectiveness will be confirmed only after extensive long-term use.

Rabies (mandatory vaccination)

The states and cities set requirements for vaccination against rabies. All vaccinations against rabies should be made by a veterinarian, in many states this is the law. A cat that is transported across the state border should have an active vaccination against rabies, and a certificate confirming this fact.

Three types of rabies vaccines are available. These include a recombinant vaccine, a nonadjuvant vector vaccine based on canary pox and an adjuvant vaccine based on the killed virus. All of them are injected. In general, it is recommended that one kittens be given one inoculation of a recombinant rabies vaccine or a vaccine based on a killed virus at the age of 8 to 12 weeks, depending on the vaccine used. Adult cats with an unknown history of vaccination also need to have one vaccination with a recombinant rabies vaccine or a vaccine based on the killed virus. When recombinant vaccines are used, annual repeated injections are recommended. When rabies vaccines are used on the basis of the killed virus, a second injection is required a year and then every three years using a vaccine approved for administration every three years.

Vaccine-associated sarcoma in cats

Sarcoma is a cancer of connective and soft tissue. Sarcoma is not a new form of cancer in cats. But in 1991, veterinarians began to notice an excess of waiting sarcomas that arose in places where vaccines are usually administered. Subsequently, a link was established between the introduction of the vaccine and the development of the sarcoma. Vaccines from the leukemia virus of cats and rabies were more often associated with the development of sarcoma than other vaccines. Both subcutaneous and intramuscular injection sites were affected. Other non-vaccine injections may also affect the development of the disease.

The increase in the incidence of sarcoma approximately coincided with the transition from the use of vaccines against the rabies virus based on the modified live virus to adjuvant vaccines based on the killed virus. Approximately at the same time, an adjuvant vaccine (aluminum-based adjuvants) was introduced from the leukemia virus of cats. The excipients are added to vaccines to enhance the immune response, especially for vaccines with killed virus. It was believed that the auxiliary substances in general and aluminum in particular are the cause. Nevertheless, the researchers are no longer sure that this is so. It is believed that these vaccines cause inflammation at the site of administration, which, in some cases, is associated with the development of the sarcoma, but the exact relationship is not proven.

Despite this, vaccine manufacturers are developing recombinant vaccines, which still use auxiliary substances and which cause less inflammation at the site of vaccine administration. Many vaccines are available on the basis of modified live virus from other viral diseases, and some of them do not contain auxiliary substances. The new vaccination recommendations attempted to minimize the number of injections that a cat receives during life, and it is also recommended where to inject.

It is important to remember that vaccine-associated sarcoma is a very rare form of cancer. The frequency of occurrence ranges from 1 per 1000 to 1 per 10000. A large range appears to be related to a genetic predisposition to this disease in certain cats and cat genera. For example, in some geographical areas the disease occurs more often.

Such a cancer can manifest itself after months, and even years after vaccination. Despite the fact that a large number of cats after vaccination there is a small swelling, a month later it must pass. If this does not happen, show the cat to the vet.

Since much remains to be seen, a working group on the vaccine-associated feline sarcoma for the joint work of the American Association of Felinologists, the American Association of Veterinary Hospitals, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Society for the Fight against Animal Cancer has been established. This group works to determine the true extent of the problem, the cause and the most effective treatment of vaccine-associated sarcoma.


It is an aggressive cancer that spreads in the muscle layers and between them, which makes it very difficult to remove all cancer cells surgically. Surgery and radiation therapy performed before or after the operation is, apparently, the most successful treatment plan, but nevertheless, in most cases a relapse occurs.

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