Common Vaccines For Cats & Why They're Important

Vaccinating your cat is one of the most important roles you have as a responsible pet owner. Vaccines help to protect your cat from serious illnesses and life threatening diseases. However, we understand the benefit is not always obvious.


So, rather than just telling you it’s important to vaccinate your cat, we thought we would dig a little deeper and share some of the science involved with cat vaccines, what’s in the needle and exactly what diseases you are preventing your cat from by getting them vaccinated.



Firstly, cat vaccines can be broken up into two different groups; core vaccines which are required for all cats, no matter where they live, and noncore vaccines which are sometimes recommended by your vet depending on the lifestyle of your cat.


We want to discuss the core vaccines with you today, because these are the vaccines that all cats need to live a happy and healthy life and what your vet will be administering when you take your cat for it’s vaccines.


Australia requires only one core vaccination (F3) which protects against three common diseases: feline panleukopenia, feline calicivirus and feline herpesvirus virus. This vaccination can be received as a course for kittens as well as previously unvaccinated adult cats.


All vaccines require regular boosters to ensure continued protection. Your veterinarian can inform you how often booster shots are required.


Feline parvovirus (panleukopenia)

‘Panleukopenia’ means a decrease in the number of white blood cells. Cats rely on their white blood cells to protect them against both infectious disease and foreign invaders, they are the cells of the immune system.


Feline panleukopenia, is a species of parvovirus that can infect both wild and domestic cats worldwide. It is a highly contagious disease of the intestinal tract that progresses very quickly and is often fatal. Symptoms include, but are not limited to; vomiting, diarrhea/bloody diarrhea, dehydration, weight loss, high fever, depression and loss of interest in food.


Outbreaks of this highly infectious disease can lead to the death of infected cats. Vaccination is the only way to protect cats and tends to be highly effective, particularly because the virus can survive for long periods in the environment.


Feline Herpesvirus & Feline Calicivirus

Feline Herpesvirus (FHV) and Feline Calicivirus (FCV) are both viruses that cause acute and chronic upper respiratory tract disease (cat flu). If your cat is infected by one or both of these viruses it will show signs like; sneezing, nasal discharge, conjunctivitis, eye discharge, and mouth ulcers. After being infected by the virus, the cat will remain a carrier without showing any further symptoms. Yet some cats may suffer from recurrent symptoms throughout their lives, especially after stressful events.


These viruses are typically transmitted by direct or close contact between cats, but they are also known to survive for a short period of time in the environment (i.e. if your cat played in the backyard where another infected cat had sneezed). These are both common diseases, which is why it is a core vaccine for all cats.


As you can see, vaccines are crucial in ensuring your cat has a long, happy and healthy life. As a responsible pet owner, it is up to us to make sure our cat is up to date with their vaccines. If you’re not sure, get in contact with your vet and they can let you know. You may also be able to organise a reminder with your vet so you don’t miss any of the important vaccine boosters in the future.


Now you know more about what is happening when you take your cat to the vet for it’s vaccines you might feel more comfortable knowing exactly what diseases you are saving your cat from and the long term health benefits you are providing your cat. Give yourself a big high five for being such an awesome cat owner!

© Tasmanian Cat Management Project 2019

TassieCat is a state-wide initiative to promote and facilitate responsible cat ownership and management in Tasmania. The project is supported by Cradle Coast Authority NRM, Kingborough Council, and NRM North through funding from the Tasmanian Government.