Ask the Vet: Vaccines for Indoor Cats - Michigan Humane Society

Ask the Vet: Vaccines for Indoor Cats

“If cats are strictly indoors (do not go outside at all) what vaccines should I keep current?”

Indoor cats have a much lower risk of contracting diseases, but still require protection. The rabies vaccine should be kept up-to-date. Rabies is a very serious, fatal disease and presents a human health risk as well. In case your cat escapes, or in the event a wild animal gets in your home (this has been reported with bats and other wildlife), she should be vaccinated for rabies for her protection and for yours.

Another vaccine that should be kept current is often referred to as a distemper vaccine. This vaccine is often abbreviated HCP, and protects cats against three serious viruses including the feline herpes virus, calicivirus and panleukopenia. These viruses can cause respiratory and gi issues, and have the potential to be fatal. Kittens should receive a series of vaccine boosters against these viruses and adult cats should be kept current. In the event your indoor cat needs to go to a groomer, boarding facility or if she ever becomes ill and needs to be hospitalized, keeping her up-to-date on this vaccine will protect her from these potentially serious diseases.

Other vaccines are given based on a cat’s lifestyle. Your veterinarian can discuss with you the pros and cons of these vaccines. Many vaccines are no longer given yearly, depending on the product used. It is still important to have your indoor cat examined at least yearly by your veterinarian. Dental disease, heart disease, and subtle weight loss (or too much weight gain!) are just some of the things that can be detected by an exam.

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