Cats are extremely popular pets. In fact, according to research carried out in 2021 by the veterinary charity, PDSA, 24% of the UK adult population have a cat. And the estimated UK cat population stands at a staggering 10.7 million.
If you are a cat owner, its health comfort are likely to be top priorities and one easy way to protect your cat from a range of diseases is by keeping up-to-date with its vaccinations.
In this guide we take a look at what you need to know about cat vaccinations, from which ones a cat needs and when they need them, to how much they are likely to cost.
Which vaccinations do cats and kittens need?
If you live in the UK, cats should be vaccinated against:
- cat flo (feline herpes virus and feline calicivirus) – this causes symptoms similar to human colds and flu such as sneezing, a snotty nose, painful or weepy eyes, fever, low energy, coughing and a sore throat. It can be serious, and even fatal, for kittens but is usually not serious for healthy adult cats.
- feline infectious enteritis (also known as FPV, feline parvovirus and feline panleukopenia) – this is a disease that attacks a cat’s gut and immune system. It can also attack the heart. Young kittens will often suffer more serious symptoms than healthy adult cats. The kittens of an infected pregnant cat may be born with brain damage.
- feline leukemia virus (essential for cats that go outside) – this is a virus that attacks a cat’s immune system and can be fatal. It can cause cancers, anemia and leave cats vulnerable to other infections.
Other non-core cat vaccinations include:
- Chlamydophila felis – this is a bacterium that causes eye infections and symptoms similar to those of cat flu. Your cat will usually only require this vaccination if it has suffered from it in the past.
- rabies – this is a lethal virus but, as it is not currently a problem in the UK, it will only be required if your cat travels abroad or you are adopting a cat from overseas.
If you are unsure about which vaccinations your cat needs, speak to your vet.
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How often do kittens and cats need vaccinations?
Kittens need two sets of initial vaccinations. One when they are nine weeks old and a second booster at three months old. Some kittens may also need a third injection at 15 weeks. A kitten will be fully protected three to four weeks after its final injection and you should keep your kitten indoors and away from cats outside of your household until then.
After this primary course, cats usually need booster vaccinations once a year. You should receive a vaccination record from your vet to remind you when the next course is due.
How much do cat vaccinations cost?
Prices vary depending on which vaccinations your cat needs – indoor cats, as an example, will probably need fewer. Different vet practices charge different prices too, so check the website or call ahead to avoid any surprises.
However, a cost of around £65 for a kitten’s first two courses of injections, and £45 for annual cat boosters is fairly standard, according to insurer PetPlan.
If you have a choice of a few local veterinary practices, the cost of vaccinations may be one of the factors you use to make your choice, alongside other considerations such as location and opening hours, recommendations from friends and family, or staff and facilities.
Some vets may offer a health care plan for your cat which will allow you to spread the cost of preventative treatment such as vaccinations, flea and worm treatment and health checks. If you are eligible for financial support, some animal charities such as the RSPCA and the Blue Cross may be able to assist with vet bills.
Are cat vaccinations covered by pet insurance?
Pet insurance is designed to cover high costs for unexpected injury or illness. So, planned regular care such as vaccinations, flea and worming treatment is not usually covered.
You may, however, be offered lower insurance premiums if your cat is vaccinated, while some insurers may require your cat to be up-to-date with its vaccinations for your policy to be valid – so always read terms and conditions carefully and set reminders in your calendar for vaccination dates.
What does pet insurance cover?
While pet insurance might not cover your cat’s vaccinations, it is worth taking it out to give you peace of mind that you’ll have financial protection should your cat become ill or suffer an injury. Comprehensive cat insurance can cover:
- Vet bills for new illnesses, diseases and injuries
- The purchase price of your pet if it dies due to accidental injury (there is usually an age limit for this)
- Cattery fees if you have to go to hospital unexpectedly.
Always read the terms and conditions of any policy you are considering carefully so you feel comfortable with what is covered. And don’t forget to shop around to find the best policy for your cat at the most competitive price.