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Do Indoor Cats Need Vaccines?

There are a number of reasons as to why your little buddy may be an indoor or an outdoor cat. It can depend on your cat’s temperament or sensitivities, health or medical needs, or perhaps due to the area you live in and concerns about the safety of your cat.

Whether you have an intrepid feline explorer or a cozy indoor kitty, it is super important to keep them safe and happy with the right protection and treatments. Which is why today we will be answering the question: do indoor cats need vaccines?

So what can you expect from this blog?

Do Indoor Cats Need Vaccines?

Key Takeaways:

  • Even if you have an indoor cat, it’s vital to get them vaccinated. It helps to keep them safe from contracting unpleasant illnesses
  • Cats should be vaccinated during infancy, and then kept up-to-date with boosters (within reason)
  • Ask your vet about non-injection vaccine alternatives to reduce your cat’s chances of developing an aggressive injection-site sarcoma (FISS)
  • Some of the most common illnesses that can affect cats include: fleas, worms, infections, viruses, diabetes and cancer
  • The recommended indoor cat vaccines include: the FeLV vaccine, Rabies vaccine and the FVRCP vaccine
  • If you’re at all worried about your kitty, book an appointment with a trusted veterinarian. This’ll rule out any serious issues  

⚠️ Brittany, Paul, and the Fluffy Kitty team are not veterinarians. This article is based on facts, research, and personal experiences. We provide you with the best information we can but it is the reader’s prerogative as to what consequential action or inaction they may take. Paul and Brittany (and Yoda) shall in no event be held liable for any loss or other damages including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or any other damages.

The Importances of Vaccinations For Cats 

Keeping up to date with your cat’s innoculations is the most efficient way to stop your cat from contracting unpleasant illnesses

Vaccines have helped millions of cats across the world to live long, healthy lives by protecting them against nasty bugs. Meaning less time at the vet and more time snuggling your furry friend.

It’s best to vaccinate cats during infancy. This is to keep them safe while they are at their most vulnerable and in a crucial developmental stage. Booster vaccinations are also required (the regularity of these depending on the vaccine type). To ensure that they are continuously protected throughout their lives.

If you decide to rescue an adult cat, you should consult with the shelter to ensure that they are up to date with vaccinations. Also check whether they suffer from or have been exposed to any other illnesses or diseases. 

You will then be able to register your cat with your local vet and make sure their inoculations or any other health issues are properly seen to.

Indoor cat

Common Cat Ailments and Illnesses to be Aware Of 

While the risk of indoor cats contracting diseases and health issues is significantly less than that of outdoor cats, there is still a risk.

(Not to mention the possibility of your cat getting out by accident.) 

It is therefore useful to know the signs of some of the more common feline ailments so you can catch them quickly:

  • Fleas

Often harmless but not very pleasant for your kitty, these little mites suck blood from their host, leaving itchy, sore bumps on the skin. They affect both cats and humans alike and are a total pain to get rid of.

Fleas are easily preventable by keeping your cat up to date with regular grooming and flea treatments. As well as keeping an eye on your cat for signs of hair loss or marks on the skin.

  • Worms

It gives us the creeps just to think of them! There are several types of worms that can make your kitty uncomfortable, such as intestinal worms like tapeworms, ringworm, as well as more serious forms of worms such as heartworm

Keep an eye out for changes in your cat’s weight and appetite, a change in toilet habits, signs of bloating, vomiting, coughing, gagging and breathing issues etc, as these could all be indications of worms.

Worms are very common in cats but are easily preventable through regular worming tablets and treatments. Certain worms can also be transmitted to and contracted by humans. So if you think your cat has worms, it’s important to be extra vigilant with hygiene to minimize your risk of infection.

  • Upper respiratory infections 

Nose, sinus and throat infections can be super unpleasant for your feline friend. Some symptoms include: coughs, congestion, sneezing, runny nose, fever, rapid or open-mouth breathing, drooling, gagging, eye rubbing or squinting, no or low appetite, ulcers in the mouth and nose, etc. 

This virus is contracted through bites and wounds (and passed from mother to kitten, in some cases). It’s a slow acting disease that acts to weaken a cat’s immune system.

Keep an eye out for symptoms such as: weight loss, low appetite, eye and nose discharge, sneezing, wounds that don’t seem to heal, fever, inflammation of the mouth and gums, etc.

Cats might not get symptoms until years after infection, at which time getting proper medical care and advice can keep your kitty healthy and happy for a little while longer.

Indoor cat

Non-infectious Health Issues For Cats

  • Diabetes

Just like humans, cats can also develop diabetes, a condition which requires close monitoring and appropriate treatment

Keep an eye on your cat and consult your vet if you notice your cat presenting with increased thirst, increased urination, changes in their fur, weakness, lethargy, reduced appetite or weight loss. These could indicate your cat is diabetic.

  • Cancer

While feline cancer is still a scary prospect for many pet parents, it is now fairly treatable. Particularly if you catch the warning signs early

There will be different symptoms for different forms of cancer, and so consult your vet if you start to notice any unusual symptoms or behaviors in your cat. This is so you can rule out the more dangerous causes.

Indoor cat vaccines

Do Indoor Cats Really Need Vaccines?

The short answer? Yes, but within reason

They’re not at such a high risk for certain diseases and ailments as outdoor cats. But cat should still receive all the core cat vaccines.

This is to ensure their safety against dangerous feline diseases.

Once your cat has had the required vaccines and boosters, however, talk to your vet about repeat vaccinations as your cat may not need them if strictly indoors and strictly alone.

The Recommended Core Cat Vaccines

  • Feline leukemia virus (FeLV vaccine) – a virus passed through bodily fluids which then damages a cat’s white blood cells. It makes it harder for them to fight infections, which can become fatal.
  • Rabies vaccine – a usually fatal virus which attacks a cat’s central nervous system. It results in paralysis of the body and vital internal systems, such as the respiratory system. With such a low mortality rate linked with this disease, it is vital to vaccinate your cat against rabies.
  • Feline rhinotracheitis virus/herpesvirus 1 (FVR/FHV-1), Feline Calicivirus (FCV), and Feline Panleukopenia (FPV) (administered through a single FVRCP vaccine):
    • Feline rhinotracheitis virus/herpesvirus 1 – characterized as an upper respiratory infection, this virus can become active again even after recovery due to a latency period in a cat’s nerves.
    • Feline Calicivirus – another upper respiratory infection, Calicivirus can cause nasal discharge and sneezing, as well as oral inflammation and ulcers. In more intense cases the virus can cause crusting, hair loss, hepatitis, and can even be fatal.
    • Feline Panleukopenia – an extremely infectious disease, proving a high kitten mortality rate. Here, the virus eradicates white blood cells. As a result, kittens then become more likely to contract secondary infections. It’s a very dangerous disease for little ones. 

Symptoms to watch for include low appetite and energy, followed by diarrhea and vomiting.

Indoor cat

Best Steps When Getting an Indoor Cat

The most important thing when getting a cat you intend to keep indoors is to consult your vet.

This’ll help to make sure you are protecting your cat from all the necessary bugs and nasties that might affect them, even from the safety of home.

It is also important to remember that while our cats may stay indoors, we do not. And so there is the potential danger that we could bring home something nasty to our cats. 

Reduce this risk by following appropriate hygiene and safety measures, to keep your home clean and cat-friendly.

Also if your indoor cat takes trips to the groomer or if you use a mobile groomer, remember that a lot of kitties will have passed through their care. So getting your cat all boosted up with the proper vaccines is super vital to keep their natural defenses strong.

Check out our article on Cat Vaccine Side Effects: What to Know for further information about cat vaccines.

Do Indoor Cats Need Vaccines? The Key Takeaways

When it comes to your cat’s health, we know all the technical information can feel overwhelming.

When our boy Yoda was having his operation to treat his FISS cancer, the fear and worry for your sweet fur-baby can be all-consuming.

So the best thing to do is to take things step by step.

To summarize what we’ve covered:

  • Vaccines are a vital step in maintaining your cat’s health and wellbeing. 

Even if you have an indoor cat, they are still at risk of contracting unwanted ailments. For example, what if they sneak out for a little adventure, or pick something up from you or a visitor? Keeping your cat’s vaccinations up to date is the best line of defense to ensure their safety.

  • There are all sorts of nasty bugs and infections which can creep in and make your kitty poorly.

Which is why it’s never a bad thing to contact a vet if you’ve noticed unusual symptoms and behaviors in your cat. If concerned, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and consult a medical professional.

  • Just because your cat is an indoor kitty does not make them immune to illness. 

An indoor cat that escapes and isn’t fully vaccinated is at higher risk of contracting diseases and infections. Even if you intend to keep your cat indoors, inoculate them with all the core cat vaccines. As this’ll give them a solid internal defense system against some of the more common cat diseases.

It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the health of our cats. Even our indoor kitties should be well protected against the outside world.

We’d love to hear about your experiences as indoor cats owners. What are your challenges? How do you keep your fur baby safe and happy within the home? We’d love to hear from you!