Cat Vaccination Schedule: Complete Guide

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Translated by Nick R

Don’t you know how to follow your cat’s vaccination schedule? Don’t worry, here I’ll explain in detail the vaccinations your kitty needs at the right times. Also, you’ll know if your feline needs any complementary vaccines according to his lifestyle and health condition.

Why is it important to vaccinate cats? 

Vaccination is crucial because it allows the animal to create antibodies and develop immunity against potential diseases. Through vaccinations, the immune system prepares and strengthens itself for the arrival of a harmful organism to the system.

On the other hand, some cats spend more time outdoors than indoors, making them prone to catching diseases carried by other cats in the street, such as rabies. That’s why getting your kitty vaccinated is important, so you can minimize the risk of disease.

Compulsory vaccinations for cats 

After birth, the cat receives a temporary supply of colostrum. Colostrum is the milk produced by the cat after birth and contains the mother’s antibodies that protect the kitten’s body and begin to build up immunity in the kitten.

Approximately 24 to 48 hours after birth the kitten will absorb these antibodies with his liver so that they pass directly into the bloodstream.

However, this colostrum can only protect the kitten for the first few weeks of its life, since its immune system is still immature. This immunity is called passive immunity.

It’s here that you have to vaccinate your kitten, so that he develops his own immunity and that this immunity is more durable. The immunity he will develop through vaccination is called active immunity.


  • Cats cannot be vaccinated as newborns. The immunity received from their mother through the colostrum will last a few weeks, therefore, vaccines cannot act as long as the antibodies remain in the cat’s bloodstream.

Once the immune system no longer has the cat’s colostral antibodies, the vaccines will be able to enter the kitten’s system and thus begin to have active immunity.

  • The vaccination schedule begins between 6 to 8 weeks of age since it’s not clear when the cat loses passive immunity. Once vaccination is started, the doses will be repeated according to the time required to increase the active immunity.

Feline Triple 

This vaccine is composed of three different vaccines together in one dose, that is why it is called the feline triple. However, the technical name that the vaccine receives is FVRCP, which stands for “Feline Viral” FV and the other three acronyms are the names of the vaccines “Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia” RCP.


Feline rhinotracheitis virus (FVR) vaccine primarily affects the upper respiratory tract through severe infection. It’s also known as feline herpesvirus (FHV-1).

  • Symptoms

Sneezing, congestion, runny nose, and conjunctivitis (inflammation of the tissues surrounding the eye) are some of the symptoms a cat may exhibit when infected. In some cats, it can also cause pneumonia and oral ulceration.

This virus can also cause keratitis, an inflammation of the cornea with ulcers. When the infection is chronic or severe, it shows signs of corneal scarring or chronic dry eye.

  • Virus transmission

This virus is highly contagious and is transmitted by inhalation of droplets from sneezing or direct contact with the droplets, and by sharing a litter box or food contaminated with the virus.

Once the kitten recovers from the initial infection, the virus remaining in the system goes into a dormant state in the nerves. This means that it can become active again if the cat is exposed to stressful conditions and show signs of infection even if it has had no further contact with the virus.


Like Rhinotracheitis, feline calicivirus (FCV) also affects the upper respiratory tract as it encompasses a number of viral strains that cause infection in the respiratory system.

  • Symptoms

Possible symptoms include nose and throat infection, nasal congestion, eye or nasal discharge which may be clear or turn greenish or yellowish, sneezing, and conjunctivitis.

The cat shows excessive salivation due to the development of ulcers on the hard palate, gums, tongue, nose, or lips associated with gingivitis or also called chronic stomatitis. Other less common signs are anorexia, fever, lethargy, squinting, and enlarged lymph nodes.

Virulent strains may cause scabbing on some parts of the body, hair loss, the cat may develop hepatitis, and in a severe case, death. Other strains may involve joint-associated signs such as sudden and very painful lameness.

On the other hand, there is a specific strain of feline calicivirus that causes severe generalized disease, which is very rare to occur. The initial signs of this strain are those mentioned above that involve mouth, nose, and eyes, severe depression, the rapid development of very high fever, jaundice, and edema (swelling from fluid accumulation) in the legs and/or face.

VCA Hospitals, a major veterinary hospital with several locations in the United States and Canada, states that this “strain is highly infectious and the mortality rate is reported to be up to 67%.”

  • Virus transmission

Calicivirus can be transmitted through eye or nose secretions expelled by an infected cat. In addition to saliva, if a cat sneezes in the air, particles will remain and contaminate the environment, an easy way to spread the virus.

The virus can also be transmitted through urine and feces, but these two are not considered to be a major source of infection.


Feline panleukopenia (FPV) is a very infectious disease and has a high mortality rate in baby cats. This virus is also known as feline parvovirus.

Panleukopenia causes a decline in white blood cells in the body, which makes the cat very vulnerable to any type of infection if it reaches a severe level. This is because white blood cells are important in the processes of immunity and defense against diseases and infections that the body can acquire.

  • Symptoms

Symptoms include apathy or depression until collapse, destruction of cells affecting the functioning of the intestinal tract, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea, both frequently.

Other symptoms appear on a physical level such as loss of skin elasticity due to dehydration, the coat becoming rough and its color becoming dull. In some cases, they may have purulent secretions (with greenish or yellowish pus) in the nose or eyes.

However, if the infection is too severe in a kitten, the only symptom is sudden death.

  • Virus transmission

Panleukopenia can be transmitted through all cat excretions, mainly in clearly infected feces. In addition, if there is direct contact with contaminated water, food, clothing, and shoes, the cat can become infected. If the cat is susceptible to these conditions, just having direct contact with another infected cat is enough to become infected.

At what age is it applied? 

The Feline Triple Vaccine is administered at 6 to 8 weeks of age.

Does it need reinforcement? 

This vaccine requires two boosters, the first one at 10 to 12 weeks and the second one at 14 to 16 weeks. An additional booster dose is recommended at 6 months (24 weeks) to ensure a better response in the cat’s immune system, according to the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA).

Once the first year’s vaccine is administered, it’s advised to boost this vaccine annually in cats that frequent outdoors and also stay indoors. For indoor-only cats, the frequency changes every three years, since they are less exposed to outdoor conditions.


Spain: $21 to $35 euros

Colombia: $20,000 to $60,000 pesos


Rabies is a very dangerous disease since it not only affects warm-blooded animals such as cats, and dogs, among others, but is also transmissible to humans (zoonotic disease).

As it is an endemic disease in the world (it can be acquired in any country or region), it is one of the mandatory vaccinations for both cats and dogs.

  • Symptoms

As rabies advances, it goes through phases called the prodromal stage, the furious rage stage, and the paralytic stage.

In the prodromal stage, the cat starts to have temperament changes. If the cat is very active and energetic, it may become shy or nervous. While if the cat is calm the opposite will happen, he will become agitated and aggressive.

The furious rabies stage is the one commonly reached by all infected animals. In this stage, the cat reaches a high degree of exaltation and it is the most dangerous moment. It will become more nervous and irritable. Muscle spasms will cause him not to ingest food and will minimize excessive drooling of saliva.

In the last stage, the paralytic stage, the cat goes into a coma and eventually dies. This stage occurs after approximately 7 days if the disease is very advanced.

One symptom that occurs in all stages of rabies is the dilation of the pupils.

  • Virus transmission

Since the virus stays in the saliva of the infected animal, contact with the saliva, either through airborne particles or direct contact with a wound such as a bite, can cause the cat to become infected with rabies.

At what age is it applied? 

The first dose the cat should receive is between 14 to 16 weeks of age.

Does it need reinforcement? 

Rabies requires a booster at one year of age. Thereafter it should be annual or every three years depending on the duration of the vaccine or the laws according to the country where you live.


Spain: $21 to $27 euros

Colombia: $8000 to $21000 pesos

Optional vaccinations for cats 

The application of supplemental vaccinations will depend on the cat’s lifestyle and medical history since some cats are more prone at birth to acquiring diseases such as leukemia or the immunodeficiency virus.

Feline Leukemia 

Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) only affects cats. Besides causing cancer in the white blood cells, the virus created other ailments The disease is a microorganism that replicates only inside living cells.

  • Symptoms

Signs include fever, diarrhea, loss of weight and appetite, progressive weakness, lethargy, pale gums, difficulty breathing, jaundice (yellowing) of the mouth and eyes, enlarged lymph nodes, stomatitis (gum ulcers), poor coat condition, and developing infections of the skin, bladder or upper respiratory tract.

The virus affects different cells of the immune system and the tissues that make up the blood. When the virus enters the cell it can either cause its destruction or mutate it into a potentially cancerous cell.

It affects the white blood cells, most commonly the lymphoid cells causing a lymphoma (malignant tumor) or lymphosarcoma (malignant tumor in the lymphatic tissue). These tumors can appear in single sites or in various parts of the body.

Other possible conditions caused by the virus include anemia (low red blood cell count) at a very dangerous level, severe enteritis (inflammation of the intestine) and can damage the eyes and the neurological

  • Virus transmission

The virus is not very contagious, so it takes a long time to infect and requires very close contact with another animal. It’s transmitted through direct contact with the infected cat or through its bodily fluids such as urine, feces, and nasal secretions.

Direct contact involves activities such as mutual grooming, exchanging litter and food bowls, and mating.

At what age is it applied? 

Before administration to the cat, it’s necessary to rule out whether it is infected or not through a blood or stool test. This vaccine is mostly recommended for cats that spend more time outdoors and are unsupervised. It’s administered at 6 to 8 weeks of age.

Does it need reinforcement? 

The leukemia vaccine requires three boosters, the first at 10 to 12 weeks of age, the second at 14 to 16 weeks, and finally at one year of age.


Spain: $25 to $35 euros

Colombia: $25,000 to $45,000 pesos.

Feline immunodeficiency 

Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) mainly attacks cells in the immune system such as white blood cells. When the virus is in an advanced stage it makes the cat more susceptible to other infections and diseases. It is also known as HIV or cat AIDS.

  • Symptoms

The virus in the cat’s body will progress very slowly or may simply lie dormant, so it will take months or years to see any symptoms. When signs of the disease are present, it usually happens that after this stage the body returns to an apparently good state of health.

On the other hand, the symptoms that the cat presents when the virus begins to be noticeable are fever, constant diarrhea, lack of appetite, poor coat condition, persistent eye problems, seizures, gum and mouth inflammation, behavioral changes and signs of neurological disorders.

Although these signs can be mistaken for another type of illness, it is best to take your cat to the veterinarian to be sure what health problem it has.

  • Virus transmission

The most common way the virus is transmitted is by an infected cat making a deep bite. On the other hand, if the cat has the virus, she can pass it on to her kittens when they are born.


After being on the market for some time, the FIV vaccine was discontinued. This is because the vaccine had limited protection and its booster cases increased the risk of sarcoma (type of cancer).

If your cat is infected, he can live for a long time without activating the disease or showing signs of it, therefore, it’s essential to take care of your cat at the moment of detecting any infection, since the immune system is weakening.

In addition, frequent visits to the veterinarian are recommended to monitor the state of health and not let the problem progress.


Bordetella is caused by the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica. It’s a very infectious respiratory disease that affects mostly kittens and senior cats since their immune system is weakened in both stages, either because it has not developed yet or because it is already worn out due to old age.

  • Symptoms

Signs of a cat suffering from bordetella include fever, sneezing, lethargy, runny nose, labored breathing, loss of appetite, wet or dry cough, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck area.

  • Virus transmission

It’s usually transmitted in places crowded with cats or dogs, as the latter can also pass the virus to cats. It also affects cats with poor hygienic conditions.

On the other hand, if the cat already has a respiratory condition, it is much more susceptible to catching bordetella.

At what age is it applied? 

It’s recommended to apply it at 16 weeks of life, but there is a dose that can be applied at 8 weeks of age, according to the veterinarian’s criteria.

Does it need reinforcement? 

It should be reinforced annually.


Spain: $21 to $27 euros

Colombia: $45,000 to $47,000 pesos.

Feline infectious peritonitis 

Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is caused by feline coronavirus infection. The coronavirus group usually affects either the respiratory or the gastrointestinal tract, depending on the animal and the circumstances.

  • Symptoms

A cat with peritonitis may exhibit fluctuating fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite. In addition, there can be two groups of signs, wet or effusive and dry or non-effusive.

The signs in the wet one are an accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity because the virus has caused damage and inflammation in the blood vessels. This leads to leakage of fluid from the blood into the thorax or abdomen.

On the other side, dry disease causes chronic inflammatory lesions around the blood vessels of different organs. The most common areas for these lesions are around the eyes and brain. However, it affects other organs such as the liver, lungs, kidneys, and skin.

  • Virus transmission

The most common form of transmission of peritonitis is direct fecal-oral contact, i.e., contact with contaminated feces. Transmission through contaminated clothing and objects is possible only within a few hours after contact.

At what age is it applied? 

This vaccine is suggested for cats that have lived in breeding places and have had a history of this virus. It should be given to cats older than 16 weeks of age. In addition, the use of this vaccine depends on veterinary criteria and the cat’s health status.

Does it need reinforcement? 

It’s not known if it needs a booster; but, it also depends on the veterinarian’s criteria and the cat’s health condition.


Spain: $21 to $27 euros

 Feline Chlamydiosis 

Also called feline chlamydial conjunctivitis, this is an infection caused by the bacterium Chlamydophila felis. This condition affects the upper respiratory tract or the eyes, but in other cases, it also damages the joints and the genital tract.

  • Symptoms

Signs include very intense reddening of the eyes, inflammation of the pink membrane covering the inner eyelids, and watery or purulent tears. Other symptoms may include fever, loss of appetite, sneezing, and runny nose.

  • Virus transmission

Since the virus cannot survive long in the environment, transmission depends on contact with the infected animal. So if there is very close contact with an infected cat, transmission is possible.

At what age is it applied? 

For kittens, it’s recommended to be applied at 9 weeks and if it’s not possible at that time it can also be applied at 16 weeks.

Does it need reinforcement? 

A second dose is required for kittens at 12 to 14 weeks and for adult cats at 24 to 26 weeks. The annual booster is only recommended for cats at risk of permanent exposure.

Side effects of vaccines in cats 

While most cats don’t experience side effects from vaccination, there is a small percentage that may show some short-term symptoms.

Effects such as diarrhea, lameness, vomiting, fever, loss of appetite, hives, severe lethargy, and redness and swelling around the area where the vaccine was administered may occur. If any of the symptoms persist and others are present, it’s important to bring the cat to the veterinarian as soon as possible so that it can be treated.


It’s important to vaccinate your kitten as an excellent measure to minimize the risks of acquiring any of these diseases. Besides, as I already mentioned, vaccines are essential to better develop your cat’s immune system so that he can have antibodies to defend him from harmful external agents.Remember that vaccinating your cat is giving him a good quality of life and above all, you keep him healthy for many years to come.