Archive for October, 2016

How frequently do indoor cats need a physical examination and vaccinations?

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

vaccine-cat-in-cardboard-carrierAs veterinarians, we know a feline physical examination appointment may be a big event for you and your pet.  It frequently begins well before you step into the exam room.

There’s often a game of hide and seek to find our feline friends, a game of trickery or wrestling to get them in the carrier, and oftentimes a car ride filled with choruses of plaintive meowing before you even walk through our front door.  And then comes the exam!  Which we know can be a big production in and of itself for some patients.

So, why do we put ourselves and our feline companions through all this?  These days most of our kitties spend their entire lives sheltered in our comfortable homes away from contagious diseases.

Why then, do they need examinations and immunizations regularly?  Well, although it may not be the most exciting event on your calendar, annual feline physical examination appointments are far more important than you realize.  Annual exams are vital to preventing unnecessary suffering, illness and heartbreak down the line.

How frequently do indoor cats need a physical examination?

diana-checking-vitals-on-a-declawed-kittenA comprehensive physical examination is an important measure of an animal’s health just as it is for our own health.  Examinations not only allow us to evaluate countless parameters of health, such as weight changes, hydration status, heart health and dental health.  They also open up conversation about habits at home that allow insight into abnormalities that may be red flags for declining health or a change in health status such as a change in appetite,  urinary habits or water consumption.

Cats should have a physical examination at least once a year. Kittens require frequent exams and vaccinations during their first 4 months of development.  We recommend more frequent physical examinations for senior cats and cats with chronic health problems. We make this recommendation on a case by case basis. For  a healthy adult cat, an annual examination, which conveniently coincides with their annual rabies immunization requirement, is sufficient as long as the cat is doing well at home.

What immunizations are recommended for indoor cats?

There are two core vaccines recommended for every cat.  Any additional vaccines are recommended based on lifestyle.

  1. Rabies vaccine: Rabies vaccination is required by Illinois state law. Rabies is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal by route of a bite wound or contaminated scratch wound.  Rabies is always fatal.  It also is a significant human health risk given that rabies can be transmitted from infected animals to humans.  There are serious implications if an outbreak occurs.Our feline rabies vaccine is a 1 year vaccine produced by Merial. It is adjuvant free, which reduces the risk of injection site reaction, injection site granuloma, and chronic inflammation in cats.Please visit the Merial website for more information and to view an informative video on rabies:
  1. Feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia vaccine (referred to as the FVRCP or distemper vaccine). The FVRCP vaccine is a combination vaccine that protects against two upper respiratory viruses (rhinotracheitis and calicivirus) and panleukopenia (distemper). Upper respiratory diseases are highly contagious and potentially fatal in immunocompromised patients. Panleukopenia is also highly contagious and can be fatal.  It can cause loss of appetite, fever and frequent vomiting. The vaccine we carry is a 3 year vaccine in boostered adult cats.  It is also made by Merial, and you can find additional information on the company’s website:



Whether it be through a faulty latch or screen, a careless visitor, or a fire/natural disaster, indoor cats can find themselves outside unexpectedly.  The great outdoors are riddled with dangers for a vulnerable indoor cat, but for the unvaccinated indoor cat, the dangers increase many fold.

Transmissible disease exposure occurs through contact with other animals or fomites, inanimate objects that carry traces of virus from contact with an infected animal.  There are many risks for exposure for a cat on the loose.  Outdoor cats, wild animals and even contact with shelter animals or household pets from well intentioned rescuers can lead to transmission of potentially deadly diseases.

Even if an indoor cat doesn’t find itself in the great outdoors, there is still possibility for exposure in the home.  Rabid animals are unpredictable and dangerous.  Many a rabid bat has found its way into people’s homes.  Bats frequently live in the eaves of older wood frame homes.  Recently,  two cats were diagnosed with rabies in Illinois and Missouri. (  Any animal may become infected with rabies if exposed to the rabies virus. Rabid raccoons and skunks have also been known to break into homes through unsecured windows or doors.  Please remember that rabies is still a very serious disease that is uniformly fatal. Regular immunizations for rabies are required by law to protect the safety of our pets as well as their owners.


Additionally, you may unwittingly be a danger to your indoor cat.  If you are exposed to a virus outside of the home, either by contact with an infected animal or fomite, you can carry that virus into the home on yourself or your clothing. Calicivirus, one of the viruses protected for in the FVRCP vaccine,  lives on clothing for up to 28 days.  We administer this immunization every three years.

And finally, rabies vaccination of your pets is required by law. ( ). This is a global health issue. It is also an important safety precaution that we enforce in order to protect our staff, clients and veterinarians.


It is our pleasure to serve you and your pets. Please do not hesitate to call our offices if you have any questions or concerns. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your veterinary healthcare team. Schedule an appointment today!


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