For young cats 1-3 years old
Once a year:
- a good wellness exam where we check out eyes, ears, teeth, gums, lymph nodes, heart and lung sounds, and palpate joints, spine, and abdomen.
- Vaccination for rabies, ideally using the new adjuvant free, recombinate vaccines that won't cause sarcomas at the injection site. This new improved vaccine is only available presently as a 1 year vaccine. (older style killed virus vaccines (rabies and leukemia) give excellent protection because they contain an adjuvant chemical that stimulates a good immune response, but unfortunately, chemical adjuvants have been determined to cause severe cancer in a small percentage of cats.)
- Vaccination for leukemia disease, ideally using the adjuvant free, recombinate vaccine. More expensive than the the older style vaccine but safer (read comment in paragraph above)
- Vaccination for Panleukopenia, Rhino-herpes, & calici virus
- An inexpensive $15 wellness exam
Deworming ($3) Many worms are microscopic and even indoor only cats can be positive worm carriers.
All year round: Love, a good diet, flea control as needed, and Revolution for control and prevention of fleas, ticks, intestinal worms, heartworms, ear mites, and mange mites. Especially important in outdoor cats but also recommended for indoor cats
Our recommendations for cats 3-6 years old:
Once yearly: a good wellness exam
- Rabies vaccination with the new 1 year adjuvant free rabies vaccine. In the near future this vaccine may be available as a 3 year vaccine.
- decision to vaccinate for leukemia, panleukopenia, rhino-herpes, & calici based on your cat's exposure level. For 100% indoor cats, we might decide to vaccinate for these diseases on an every 1 or 2 year basis. We often stop recommending leukemia vaccination after 3 years old. See comments in the column to your left.
- deworming; I still recommend this twice yearly even for indoor cats.
Midyear: an inexpensive wellness exam and deworming ($3)
For middle aged and older cats:
- A good yearly wellness exam. This is the age group where we are likely to find multiple health problems. It's good to detect and address problems early
- Dewormer twice yearly. Parasites are most common in the very young but also in sick, run down, and older pets.
- Vaccinations for rabies. Other vaccines every 1-3 years ... or not at all depending on your cat's exposure
- A midyear wellness exam and dewormer
For cats older than 10 years old we recommend a senior blood screen ($52-85) to look for early signs of kidney disease, liver disease, thyroid disease, diabetes, and much more. We might also consider survey radiographs to look for heart disease, bladder stones, arthritis, and cancer.
Note that our vaccination recommendations for cats are now based on AGE & LIFE STYLE.
Not many years ago, most vets recommended all cats be vaccinated for all the major cat diseases once a year and every year for life. I miss the simplicity of these old days but in many cases we were over vaccinating and potentially causing more harm than good.
But due to improved vaccine technology, new studies, and new attitudes our profession now pretty much agrees that:
- vaccines are critically important for kittens and young cats
- BUT for cats over 3 years old that already have a good vaccine record there is still some controversy.
The concensus for now is that
- we should give rabies vaccine according to State law (either yearly or every 3 years in S.C depending on which vaccine we use. The new, recommended adjuvant free vaccine is only available as a 1 year vaccine)
- we should give the feline combination vaccine for herpes, rhino, panleukopenia, chylamdia, and calici every 1-3 years depending on exposure to other cats, region of the country, immune status of the cat and so forth.
We generally recommend this vaccine to most cats in our part of the country every year. Luckily this vaccine is inexpensive ($10) and serious side effects are RARE.
- Leukemia is a major killer of cats and vaccination is very important to kittens and young cats under 3 years of age but we now know that most leukemia positive cats pick up the virus when young even though the symptoms of the disease may not show up until later in life. Because of this knowledge, and because the vaccine probably protects for longer than 1 year we now base our decision on whether or not to vaccinate for leukemia in cats over 3 years old based on age, exposure to outdoor cats, and general health and immune status of the patient.