Vaccines for Cats

Vaccines are an important part of preventative health care for our pets. Cats are commonly vaccinated against some of the following diseases. Core vaccines should be given to all cats, whereas non-core vaccines are used on a case-by-case basis based on risk factors dictated by your cat’s lifestyle (especially whether your cat has access to the outdoors) and household situation (e.g., the health of other cats in the household).

Core Vaccines

A fatal viral disease that attacks the nervous system and that is contagious to humans. Read more about rabies.

A virus that causes rhinotracheitis and is one of the causes of upper respiratory infections in cats. Upper respiratory infections can be severe and/or chronic. Read more about feline upper respiratory infections.

The other main virus that contributes to upper respiratory infections in cats.


A viral disease which can be fatal, especially in younger cats. Often called feline distemper, this virus causes vomiting and diarrhea. Read more about panleukopenia.
Non-Core Vaccines

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)
A virus that can cause a variety of severe conditions, including anemia, suppression of the immune system, and cancer.

Combination Vaccines – What do all those letters mean?
The core group of viruses for which cats are routinely vaccinated are often combined into a single shot as a combination vaccine (except the rabies vaccine, which is given separately). This vaccine is often referred to by a set of initials: FVRCP. What do those initials mean?

  • FVR = Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (caused by a herpesvirus)
  • C = Calicivirus
  • P = Panleukopenia