Preventive Care and Vaccines for Outdoor Cats:
Even cats that only spend part of their time outdoors need to take extra precautions. Here is a list of recommended vaccines for outdoor cats.
Rabies vaccine administration is mandated by Maine State Law for all cats. Your indoor/outdoor cat is at increased risk for this virus through hunting and potentially being bitten by unknown, unvaccinated animals.
We use PureVax Rabies vaccine (produced by Merial). This vaccine was specially formulated to reduce the occurrence of vaccine-associated fibrosarcomas (a type of cancer) in cats. Other Rabies vaccines contain an irritant or adjuvant to increase the body’s response to the vaccine. It is this irritant or adjuvant that has been identified as a cause of the fibrosarcoma tumors in cats. The PureVax is non-adjuvant, extremely safe, and administered once yearly.
FVRCP (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calici virus and Panleukopenia) is another recommended vaccine for indoor cats. This vaccine provides immunity against two separate upper respiratory diseases (Rhinotracheitis—the Feline Herpes virus—and Calici virus). The third component protects against Panleukopenia (the Feline Distemper virus).
These diseases are highly contagious and can be brought into the environment by other pets that go outside or even the owners’ clothing. In kittens, this vaccine is administered every four weeks from the ages of eight to sixteen weeks. It is boostered the following year and every three years thereafter. In cats over sixteen to eighteen weeks, the vaccine is administered for the first time, boostered the following year and every three years thereafter.
Feline Leukemia vaccine (FELV) is also highly recommended for cats that go outside. The Feline Leukemia virus is not stable in the environment. Therefore, it requires direct, intimate contact to be transmitted (fighting, mating, grooming).
Indoor/outdoor cats, because of their possible contact with unknown or feral cats, are at much higher risk of contracting this virus than an indoor only cat. Because this virus is fatal in the majority of cats who contract it, vaccination against FELV is extremely important. We recommend an initial vaccine at or after sixteen weeks of age followed by annual boosters. At Veazie Veterinary Clinic, the same PureVax technology in our Merial Rabies vaccine is also present in our FELV vaccine.
Internal and external parasite protection is important for your indoor/outdoor cat. Outdoor cats like to hunt and often eat all or part of their prey. This puts them at increased risk for internal parasites including round worm, hook worm and tapeworm. Because of mosquitoes, they are at risk for heartworm disease.
They are also exposed to external parasites like fleas, ticks and ear mites. A topical product, like Revolution, can be administered monthly to prevent most intestinal and external parasites and keep your hunter healthy! Although Revolution is not approved for ticks in cats, we have had good success in this regard. The only parasite noted above that would require an additional medication would be tapeworms (acquired via eating infected mice or fleas).