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505-892-4412 H


Feline Vaccinations

Feline Vaccination Protocol at High Desert Animal Hospital 

      Dramatic changes have occurred in the past fifteen years regarding the way veterinarians view vaccines and vaccination practices. The concepts of core and non-core vaccines, disease risk assessment, extended inter-vaccination intervals, and using products that minimize vaccine associated inflammation (and potential cancer) are currently mainstream veterinary medicine. The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) Feline Vaccine Advisory Panel has developed specific guidelines to address potential risks associated with vaccinations. They define certain vaccines as Core vaccines - those recommended to be given to every patient regardless of lifestyle.
      One of the complications related to vaccinations is vaccine-associated sarcomas (VAS). Sarcomas are connective tissue tumors occurring at vaccination sites in response to chronic vaccine-induced inflammation. This cancer is highly invasive and often deadly. Currently there are two types of vaccines available: killed/adjuvant OR modified-live/non-adjuvant. Historically, vaccines were made with killed virus and adjuvants (chemical additives that act as preservatives and boost the immune response). Unfortunately, adjuvants may create a negative immune response, causing chronic inflammation. This over-reaction has been associated with the development of cancer in some cats. Therefore today many vaccines are now modified-live/non-adjuvant vaccines because they prompt a strong immune response without causing chronic inflammation.
     The AAFP Feline Vaccine Advisory Panel suggests that, after considering all available evidence, veterinarians use less inflammatory products whenever possible.
     In response to the recognition of Vaccine Associate Sarcomas, the AAFP  recommends:

  • Decreased frequency of vaccine administration
  • Use of less reactive feline vaccines (modified-live/non-adjuvant)
  • Specific sites of each vaccine on the legs

In compliance with the AAFP and to deliver the highest standard in care, High Desert Animal Hospital follows this vaccine protocol for cats:

FVRCP: (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis or herpes, Calicivirus, and Parvovirus) Our hospital only carries modified-live (MLV) FVRCP vaccines.

  • FVRCP should be started in kittens at the age of 6-8 weeks
  • Vaccinate every 3-4 weeks until the kitten is 16 weeks of age
  • Repeat yearly, every 3 years 

Rabies: There is now a cat-only, recombinant/non-adjuvant vaccine, effective for one year. Previously there were only killed, adjuvant 1 or 3 year vaccines available. However based on the risks of sarcomas and the development of this cat-specific rabies vaccine, is it believed that it is better to use MLV vaccines more frequently (yearly) rather than ANY adjuvant vaccine, regardless of frequency of use (3 year). Here at High Desert, we now strongly encourage ALL cats to be vaccinated with the 1 year Feline rabies vaccine.

  • Rabies vaccine should be given at 12 weeks of age. It should be repeated annually and in accordance with national/state/local ordinance.

FeLV: (Feline Leukemia) We use a special non-adjuvant vaccine which is currently the only one that can be effectively delivered into the skin, without a needle (transdermal)

  • FeLV vaccine is a Core vaccine, recommended for all kittens because cats under one year of age are at greatest risk for acquiring this disease.
  • It should be first given between 8-12 weeks of age and given a booster 3-4 weeks later.
  • After 1 year of age, each adult patient should have an appropriate lifestyle risk assessment (indoor vs. outdoor) to determine whether this vaccine should be continued.

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