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Anna, Pet Expert/Biologist
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 11540
Experience:  40 yrs.: herps, pocket pets, rabbits, poultry, dogs, horses. Biology degree. Vet assistant.
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What shots are absolutely necessary cat. I feel the overvaccinate

Customer Question

What shots are absolutely necessary for a cat. I feel the overvaccinate them. Mine had her shots when I brought her in as a stray and she had a reaction (not knowing what caused it cause there were multiple ones given at once. I want to know the only absolute necessary ones to give. I do know rabies is one but they want to give her all these others. She just got in cat fight and her rabies is due. I have them give her the Purevax which is supposed to be only good for one year but hear otherwise. Don't want to inject all this other crap into her. She gets stressed out anyway going to vet! If you are not a holistic vet please tell me because I know they take another view!
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Anna replied 2 years ago.
Hello and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I'm a biologist with a special interest in holistic pet care. My own animals have been cared for holistically for over 20 years.

You are right to be concerned. It has now been proven that certain vaccines increase a cat's risk of cancer. When a pet reacts to a shot, it's always a good idea not to repeat that vaccine. Most vets have not kept up with even the conventional recommendations for vaccinations, let alone the holistic ones. The leading association for feline vets, The American Association of Feline Practitioners, has divided vaccines into core vaccines and non-core. They recommend that all cats receive the core shots. These include:

feline panleukopenia (FPV)
feline herpesvirus-1 (FHV-1)

feline calicivirus (FCV)

Since the rabies shot is required by law, all vets have to suggest it. However, that shot is generally good for at least three years, probably longer.The Purvax brand is the exception. It is used in cats because it is safer, but is only good for one year. You can read the full report here:

If you read it, you'll see that what vaccines are recommended depends greatly on the individual cat. A number of factors need to be assessed, including if the cat goes outdoors, is it exposed to other cats at cat shows or boarding facilities, do other cats in the household go outdoors, any reactions the cat has had in the past, health conditions it has, etc. When it come s to shots, there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

Because of this, even holistic vets have different recommendations. Many recommend the set of kitten shots, followed by boosters a year later, then no more except for the rabies required by law. Some recommend no shots at all, others take an individualized approach for each patient. From what you have said, your present vet does not believe in individualizing at all, and has not kept up with current recommendations for shots.You could print out the report above and show it to them, or you could find a new vet more in tune with what you believe, or you could simply insist on only certain shots. Holistic vets are hard to find in many areas, but if there is one ear you, that would be your best bet. To find a reputable one, go to this page, and click on the 'Find a Vet' tab at the top:

A holistic vet can also run a titer test to determine what diseases your cat has built immunity to.

Ultimately, this is your decision. The decision I've made for my own cats is to start with the kitten immunization schedule of core vaccines, give boosters one year later, the n titer once every three years. If the titers show the need for the vaccines, then we give them. Rabies shots are given according to law. A big consideration in my cats' case is that they are never allowed outdoors. Outdoor cats are exposed to many more illnesses. However, again, this is your decision, not the vet's, not mine. There are risks in all areas of life, and you're the only one in a position to determine how much risk you are comfortable for your cat. To put things in perspective, an outdoor cat has a greater chance of being hit by a car than of contracting an illness.

Regardless of the situation, this is something that should be discussed at length with your vet. since yours is not willing to discuss the subject, it's probably time to find a new vet. If you have more questions, let me know in a REPLY. I wish you success in finding a vet who is in line with your beliefs.


My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, I am happy to address follow-up questions. Please remember to rate my service only after you have all the information you need. Thank you!
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

How about distemper? She goes outdoors but we have an electronic underground fence that keeps her in certain area. Unfortunately, does not keep other cats out. No, I am in ND and there is no one that are holistic vets here. She was in cat fight so I am concerned about her. When I took her there he saw I did not keep up with the other vaccines. She did have rabies and had the others when young. I have studied and read that they claim some of these shots provide immunity for life and the almighty dollar is why boosters and such are recommended. I can only find one vet in Bismarck, ND that carries the purevax rabies vaccine. I feel this is such nonsense. Especially since she already had reactions to the other mixture of shots. Confused!

Expert:  Anna replied 2 years ago.
Distemper is one of the core vaccines. It is just another name for feline pan leukopenia.
If you can read the labels for the vaccine (your vet should provide them on request), you'll see that the manufacturers state the shots should not be given to cats that have had reactions.
It is probable that some of the vaccines provide immunity for life, but the only way to be sure of that is to titer. It can vary from one cat to the next. One might be immune for life, while for another, immunity may only last three years. That's why it's best to vaccinate for those diseases your cat is at risk for every three years, unless you want to titer.
There are extremes on both sides of the vaccine question. On one side are the vets who vaccinate for EVERYTHING each year. On the other side are those who say the only reason vets give shots is to make money. The truth is somewhere in between.
I agree that it is confusing. There are no absolute answers. Each cat owner had to make up their own mind about what to do, after considering all the factors. In your cat's case,man argument against vaccines is that she has had a reaction. If it was a serious reaction, it is even more significant. An argument for vaccines is that she is exposed to other cats. Some of them are probably feral cats, and they are at high risk to carry diseases. I can't make the decision for you. If she were my cat, I would certainly keep up with rabies shots. I would titer for the other diseases, but titering is more expensive than getting shots. You could get boosters for the core vaccines every three years if titers are out of the question. Or, if you feel the risk is small, you might choose to only vaccinate against rabies. Ultimately, you are the only one responsible for your cat, so the decision is yours. I can only give you my opinion, which is that I would either titer or vaccinate a cat that is exposed to other cats. If she were a strictly indoor cat, I might choose to do only what the law requires.
Expert:  Anna replied 2 years ago.
Just thought you'd like to know that PureVax does now offer a three- year rabies vaccine.®-Feline-Rabies-3-YR-Vaccine.aspx
You could print this out and take it to your vet.