What Vaccines Do Indoor Cats Need?

Happy cat being checked out by Vet
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When you bring home a new cat, you’re adding another member to your family. Our pets trust us to keep them safe and healthy. That means taking them to their annual vet check ups and making sure they are up to date with vaccinations. 

Both first-time and experienced cat owners might have questions about their pets’ shots. Why does my pet need vaccinations? Does it matter if they’re an indoor cat or an outdoor cat? What do I do if my cat has a bad reaction to their vaccination?

Here at Furballfun, we love to review and give advice on pet toys, but we also want to educate and help new pet owners with common questions and concerns. In this article, we will break down everything you need to know about getting your cat vaccinated.  

There are three vaccines that vets recommend all cats get. These are referred to as the core vaccinations, and they include: 


Most states require that cats be vaccinated for rabies. Rabies is a severe illness that kills many mammals every year. If it spreads to humans, it can be fatal if not treated promptly.  


This is a shorthand for a vaccine that protects your cat against Feline Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and Panleukopenia (FVRCP).  

Often, this combination vaccine also includes a vaccination for Chlamydophila felis, a  bacterial infection that affects your cat’s eyes.

Feline Herpesvirus Type I (FHV, FHV-1):

This virus is highly contagious and is a common cause of upper respiratory infections in cats. Once infected, your cat can share this disease for life and develop eye problems. It spreads very quickly through direct contact with an infected cat’s bodily fluids, including urine, feces, and saliva.  

Feline Bordetella:

If you are planning on ever taking your cat to the groomer or boarding them overnight anywhere, you should strongly consider making sure your cat has their Bordetella vaccine. Bordetella is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the upper respiratory tract.  

Does My Cat Need Vaccinations?

Orange cat getting veterinarian assistance
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Heidi Bender from The Joy of Cats helps with Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) efforts and vaccination: “With every outdoor cat that we do TNR for gets vaccinated. In my area, the rabies vaccine is given to all cats at the time of their spay and neuter. Depending on the clinic, the FVRCP vaccine may be available for an additional charge. For the cats in my yard, I get them the FVRCP in addition to their rabies shot. I want them to have the best possible chance of not contracting viruses.”

Vets and government officials agree that your cat must be vaccinated.  

Most states require cats six months of age and older to have their rabies vaccination. Groomers and boarding facilities will most likely need a copy of your cat’s rabies certificate (official paperwork proving your pet has an up-to-date rabies shot) before they will accept your cat for services.  

Just like humans, cats can easily infect each other with several diseases, some of which result in serious illness or even death. Getting your cat vaccinated is an easy way to prevent them from contracting a  potentially fatal disease.  

What If My Cat Is An Indoor-Only Cat?  

Vets still recommend that you vaccinate your indoor cats. If your cat ever requires boarding or grooming, or if they do manage to get out of the house, you want to make sure they are protected. It is always better to be safe rather than sorry.  

When Is My Cat Fully Vaccinated?

cat going through routine checkup, What Vaccines Do Indoor Cats Need
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Some vaccines require multiple doses to trigger a strong enough immune response in your cat to protect them from infection. Your kitten should receive their initial vaccinations at around 6-8 weeks and their final round of shots between 12 and 16 weeks. Once all doses of the vaccines have been administered,  your cat will be considered “fully vaccinated.” This means that they are fully protected against the diseases prevented by their vaccines. Before then, it is best to keep them inside and away from other cats.  

For some of these vaccines, your adult cat will require a booster shot every 1 to 3 years to make sure they stay fully protected. If your cat does not receive their boosters on time, they become susceptible to infection, and groomers or boarders may not accept them for services until their shots are up to date. If you have any questions about your kitten’s initial vaccination schedule or when you will need to bring your cat in for their boosters, contact your veterinarian.  

Potential Side Effects My Cat Might Experience?

Cat Vaccine,What Vaccines Do Indoor Cats Need
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Most of the time, your cat will not experience any reaction to their vaccines. When side effects do occur,  they are usually mild and clear up quickly. Rarely, severe reactions occur, but when they do, they could include: 

  • Gastrointestinal upset such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. 
  • The cat may not be interested in food. 
  • Limping, especially in the leg or paw where the vaccine was administered 
  • Redness or swelling around the injection site 
  • Hives 
  • Fever 
  • Severe lethargy  

If you have any concerns about your cat’s health or behavior after they receive their vaccines, call your vet immediately. They will instruct you on how to monitor your cat or bring them in for follow-up care.  

Although the media might portray cats as being independent and aloof, the truth is that your feline friend relies on you for their quality of life. Making sure they receive all of their initial vaccinations and any booster shots they might need as they get older will save you the heartbreak of watching your pet suffer or even losing them to a preventable disease.  

Cat Vaccine Summary

Cat at vet office,What Vaccines Do Indoor Cats Need
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.
  • All cats need to receive their rabies, FVRCP, and FHV-1 shots 
  • If your cat is going to be in close contact with other cats at a grooming or boarding facility, also consider  the Bordetella vaccination 
  • Your cat will need to receive booster shots every 1-3 years, so they remain fully protected -If you notice any side effects after your cat receives their shots, contact your vet for guidance

Give Your Cat a Shot…

It’s always important to consult your vet before taking action, but taking action is exactly what needs to happen. Regardless of age, type, or whether it is an indoor or an outdoor cat, our feline friends need to be vaccinated. 

If you’re a cat lover like us, read some of our other articles such as why is my cat panting to learn more about our furball friends. 


Before using any products recommended on our site, we strongly advise consulting with your veterinarian. Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Our information is for reference purposes and should not replace advice from a healthcare professional. The products mentioned have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. We do not assume liability for inaccuracies in product information or instructional use.

Corey Turner
Corey Turner, owner of FurBallFun.com, draws on a lifelong love for dogs and extensive pet ownership to offer a unique perspective in the pet industry. With a successful background in project management, he excels in critical analysis, precise attention to detail, and quality assurance. This expertise allows him to effectively differentiate true value from marketing hype in the pet sector. Corey’s contributions have been featured in various publications including Rockery Press Guide Books and WealthofGeeks.com. During his free time, he enjoys disc golfing, rock climbing, and bonding with his cherished FurBall friend, Harvey.