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New Feline Vaccination Guidelines

The 2013 American Association of Feline Practitioners Feline Vaccination Advisory Panel Report is available. There are some updates to the previously issued vaccine recommendations. The Advisory Panel has revised the vaccines considered to be core and non-core. Core vaccines are recommended for all cats. Non-core are for cats in specific risk categories and this is determined on the basis of individual risk/assessment.veterinarian

Core Vaccines

Feline panleukopenia (FPV)

Feline herpes virus-1 (FHV-1)

Feline calicivirus (FCV)


Non-Core Vaccines


Feline leukemia (FeLV)

Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)

Chlamydophila felis

Bordetella brochiseptica

Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP)

Dermophyte vaccines


The advisory panel recommends that kittens under a year old be vaccinated against FeLV and then receive a booster vaccination one year later. After one year of age, the need for the FeLV vaccination is based on individual risk factors.

An interesting change in the latest guidelines is that the rabies vaccine is no longer considered a core vaccine. Your veterinarian will still be obligated to adhere to the requirements of state/law. Rabies vaccine requirements vary, depending on where you live.



Another thing to note in the AAFP feline vaccination guidelines is that it’s recommended that vaccines be administered as low on the leg as possible. This is due to the fact that treatment for injection-site sarcoma often involves amputation.

As in the 2006 AAFP guidelines, the list of recommended locations include:

FPV, FHV-1, FCV vaccines below the right elbow

FeLV vaccine below the left stifle

Rabies vaccine below the right stifle


The AAFP put out the first set of guidelines in 1998 and then they were updated in 2000 and again in 2006. The AAFP Guidelines are created to help your veterinarian make the best decision regarding each individual patient’s vaccination schedule based on risk assessment.

The advisory panel states in the report that “veterinarians should reassess risk factors for exposure to infectious disease at least once a year, as changes in the health of the animal or its lifestyle may dictate modifications in vaccinations needed.”

Cat behavior: cats sleeping

It’s mentioned in the report that visits to the veterinarian used to be primarily focused around the vaccination schedule. Now, with more information regarding length of immunity and possible adverse effects, the exams may no longer be scheduled around vaccinations. This can create a potential problem because more cats may not be getting their yearly health exam. Keep in mind that even though your cat may not be due for vaccinations or if you opt not to have your cat vaccinated, a yearly health exam is still crucial (more often for a senior cat).

It’s important to be an informed cat parent so I urge you to read the AAFP Feline Advisory Panel Report. It contains vaccination schedules and recommendations for not only pet cats but those in shelters and in trap-neuter-return programs. There is an FAQ section as well a pet owner brochure.

Read the full report at the AAFP website.

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Please note that Pam is unable to answer questions posted in the comment section. If you have a question about your cat’s behavior, you can find information in the articles on our website as well as in Pam’s books. If you have a question regarding your cat’s health, please contact your veterinarian. 

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