Vaccinating Your Indoor Cat

The annual vaccination of cats has been an integral part of preventive health care programs for several decades. No other medical development has been as successful in controlling deadly diseases in cats.

Should I Vaccinate my Indoor Cat?

Some owners feel if their cat remains indoors for life, with no contact with other cats, then there is no need for vaccination. Certainly these cats are less likely to contract disease compared with outdoor cats, however owners should realise that their cats can pick up certain viruses by indirect contact, meaning the viruses can be contracted even though the cat does not come into contact with an already infected cat and should therefore consider protecting their pets by vaccinating against particular diseases.

Cat Vaccinations can be divided into two broad categories: core vaccines, those recommended for all cats; and non-core vaccines, those that may or may not be necessary, depending on the cat’s lifestyle and circumstances. Currently, vaccines against cat Panleukopenia cat Herpesvirus and cat Calicivirus fall into the core vaccine category.

Vaccines against Feline Leukemia virus (FeLV) and Chlamydophila (a respiratory pathogen) are considered to be non-core. For your totally indoor cats, we recommend the core vaccines. Keep in mind that during the vaccination visit, your cat is also receiving a good physical examination, and this is necessary to keep cats healthy. Regular veterinary examinations allow illnesses to be detected early, when treatment is likely to be less expensive and more effective.

How do cats become infected?

Feline Parvovirus (FPV) is the initiating cause for feline panleukopenia. Susceptible cats (particularly kittens, immune-compromised and pregnant cats) can develop vomiting, diarrhoea, depression and fever. Cats acquire this infection when they come into contact with infected blood, faeces, urine, or fleas that have been feeding from an infected cat. The virus can also be passed along by people who have not washed their hands appropriately between handling cats, or by materials such as bedding, food dishes or equipment that has been used on other cats. This is what we call indirect transmission. The feline parvovirus is resistant to disinfectant and can remain in the environment for as long as a year.


Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (Feline Herpesvirus) causes symptoms like a nasty cold – sneezing, nasal discharge, conjunctivitis, corneal ulceration, fever, anorexia. Asymptomatic carriers may shed the virus. This means that while they are displaying no symptoms they are actively shedding the virus and other cats can become infected. Cats showing signs of the disease shed the virus in oral and respiratory secretions. It is also possible for feline herpesvirus to be passed onto unborn kittens via the mother. This virus can also be spread by indirect contact i.e. infected food bowls, litter trays, bedding etc., which have been in contact with an infected cat shedding the virus.

Feline Calicivirus attacks the respiratory tract, the mouth, with ulceration of the tongue and to a lesser extent the intestines, and the musculoskeletal system. It is spread between cats through direct contact with the eyes or nose of an infected cat or contact with contaminated objects that an infected cat has sneezed on or touched, such as food and water bowls. Feline calicivirus is resistant to many disinfectants and can survive outside a cat’s body for several days. People that have touched contaminated objects or an infected cat can also spread the virus to susceptible cats.

So as you can see, although your cat may not have direct contact with other cats, he/she can contract disease by indirect contact.

If you have any questions on the above information, please contact City Vet by e-mail ( If you wish to make an appointment for vaccination, please phone us on 061-419760.

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