Being a pet owner comes with many responsibilities. We need to ensure that our pets are eating the right food, have access to clean water, and get exercise every day. Another big part of looking after a pet is keeping them healthy, which means going in for annual veterinarian visits and vaccinations.
Here, we discuss how much Canadians should budget for vaccinations and why they are important, even for indoor cats.
The Importance of Vaccinations
Vaccines prevent your cat from contracting deadly diseases and spreading them to other pets. They can also prevent your cat from suffering from health problems that could cost more to treat than what vaccines cost.
By getting your vaccinated, you are protecting your cat’s life and keeping other pets safe from contracting a contagious disease that your cat might have picked up. Also, there are a few diseases that humans can catch from animals, so you’re also protecting yourself and your family.
If you have an outdoor cat, they need protection against diseases from other animals, particularly wildlife. Rabies, for example, is a fatal disease that you don’t want to be passed to your beloved pet.
Even if your cat is indoors only, some cat diseases can accidentally be brought home on clothing and shoes and transmitted to your cat. Overall, annual vaccines are essential for all cats.
You can consider investing in a pet insurance plan, since most companies cover veterinary exams and vaccinations. Many insurance companies require an extra fee for these services, but it could end up saving you money in the long run because they also cover illnesses and accidents.
How Much Do Vaccinations Cost?
Four basic vaccines are typically given to cats annually, and not including rabies, they are known as the FVRCP combination vaccine:
The cost of the vaccines depends on your location, the clinic, and your cat’s age. It also depends on if you are vaccinating an indoor or outdoor cat.
Outdoor cats need extra vaccinations, ranging from $110 to $130 for outdoor cats and $60 to $100 for indoor cats. A rabies shot on its own could be $35 to $65, depending on the clinic. These prices are for vaccines alone.
Additional Costs to Anticipate
Additional costs can include extra vaccinations beyond the four basic vaccines and whether you opt into an annual exam at the same time.
There are additional vaccines that are encouraged for outdoor cats because they are particularly vulnerable. One of the most common vaccines given to outdoor cats is for feline leukemia virus, and the price can be $30 to $40 on its own.
There’s also the exam fee. It is possible to get vaccines without an exam, but most vets will not give your cat vaccines without a physical exam.
It’s important to have a yearly exam done because the vet can determine if your cat is in good health, it gives you the opportunity to speak to your vet about any concerns you have, and it can help catch any potential health issues before they get worse.
In 2021, the average cost for an exam with vaccines in Canada was $175, but this price varies depending on the clinic. An exam with vaccines could range from $70 to $200.
Costs for Vaccinating Kittens?
Kittens can be quite expensive because they need multiple vaccines and boosters within the first year of their lives. The Ontario Veterinary Medical Association states that the annual cost of all vaccines and boosters, as well as physical exams for a kitten in their first year, can average $524.
This is just an average, however, and that price could be lower, depending on how many vaccines your kitten might have gotten before you brought them home.
Kittens are usually given the core vaccines (FVRCP) by 8 weeks old, followed up with boosters at 12 and 16 weeks of age. The rabies vaccine is typically given at 12 weeks old.
What Are the Side Effects of Vaccinations?
These symptoms typically don’t last long, but if your cat seems to be sick for over 24 hours or any symptoms worsen, contact your vet.
Some cats might develop a small but solid lump at the injection site, which usually shrinks and disappears within 2 weeks. However, if the swelling goes on for longer than 3 weeks or seems to swell and become more painful, talk to your vet.
There are other serious side effects that are rare but can happen. The following symptoms are considered a medical emergency, and you should take your cat to your vet or an emergency veterinary clinic immediately if any of these signs occur:
If your cat has ever suffered from a bad reaction after being vaccinated or you’re just worried about your cat, let your vet know. Consider staying at the clinic for 30 minutes to 1 hour after their vaccinations.
Keep in mind that these reactions are rare, and the outcome is a cat that is protected against much more severe diseases.
How Often Do Cats Need Vaccinations?
Not all of your cat’s vaccinations need to be given every year. Booster shots are typically given every 1 to 3 years, depending on whether they are indoor or outdoor cats. The core shots of FVRCP can be given every 3 years, but the rabies shot is given annually.
If you have an outdoor cat, you will need to see your vet every year for a wellness exam and booster shots, whereas indoor cats only need vaccinating every few years. That said, your indoor cat should still be seen for a wellness check by your vet annually.
There’s no question that vaccinations are necessary for cats, particularly if you have what is considered a “high-risk” cat, meaning they are an outdoor cat or live in a multi-cat home.
The vaccines also protect us cat owners, not only from catching diseases from our cats but also by keeping them safe. We want to protect our pets, and getting vaccinations is one of the best methods for keeping your cat secure and healthy.
Featured Image Credit: Tom Wang, Shutterstock