Do Inside Only Cats Need Vaccinations?
Some cat owners have opted to keep their cat as an indoor only pet. These cat owners may wonder if their house cat needs regular vaccinations, deworming, or veterinarian check ups.
Be advised that the information in this article should not replace your veterinarian's information, as health issues can be different in each area. As well some areas have laws in regards to vaccination requirements in pets.
Vaccination Plans for Indoor Cats
All cats and kittens should have had one set of vaccinations prior to leaving their original home, if not they should get their vaccinations as soon as possible. Even if the cat is going to remain an indoor only cat, these first vaccinations should be boostered. In areas where rabies is a concern, these shots should include a rabies vaccine.
The cat should also be dewormed, particularly if it was a farm kitten. Kittens are nearly always born with worms, and worms can multiply fairly quickly. As for fleas and ticks, the kitten should only be treated for them if they are actually present, otherwise the risk of treatment is not worth the benefit if there is not a problem.
A new cat, or kitten, should also be checked by a veterinarian to be sure it is healthy. The vet can listen to its heart, lungs, and so forth. If the kitten was an outdoor kitten it should be checked for Feline Leukemia.
After the first set of vaccinations (which includes boostering) it is up to you if you continue to vaccinate your cat in the future. Many people feel (due to titer testing and other concerns with over-vaccination) that vaccinating every year is too much, and that cats only need vaccinating every two or three years (even if outdoors). You can continue to vaccinate your indoor cat on this schedule or may opt to discontinue vaccinating altogether, under some guidelines.
If you, the cat's owner, work with other cats, for example if you work at an animal shelter, your cats at home, even indoor only cats, should be vaccinated as you risk bringing diseases home on your shoes and clothing.
If your cat bites somebody it may be held on a 10 days rabies hold if you live in an area where rabies is a concern. As such it may be a good idea to keep your indoor cat vaccinated for rabies.
Be aware that cats who are not vaccinated are not allowed to attend cat shows, or go to boarding facilities.
Other Health Concerns for Indoor Only Cats
If your house is prone to having mice your cat is at risk for getting worms, and should be dewormed. Toxoplasmosis also comes from mice and is a concern if you, the owner, are pregnant, however the risk is small and can be avoided if you use gloves to clean the litter box, or wash your hands.
Your cat should visit the veterinarian if it is doing poorly, overweight, underweight, or has any other health concerns. As your cat gets into its senior years it should also visit the veterinarian to have his, or her, teeth checked. Even indoor only cats can get plaque and can have dental problems which can be spotted, and taken care of, by a visit to the veterinarian.