How Much Do Cat Vaccinations Cost?

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You know you have to get your cat vaccinated to keep her healthy, so you might be wondering how much all those shots are going to cost you (and how often you need to get them).

Not only that, but you also might want to know which vaccines your cat definitely needs and which ones she can skip.

The Dodo reached out to Dr. Chyrle Bonk, a veterinarian working with Excited Cats, and Amy Davis, owner of My Cat Needs This, to learn more about just how much you’ll be spending on cat vaccinations.

Why do cats need vaccinations?

Vaccinations are important for your cat because they help prevent her from getting seriously ill by some of the most common feline diseases.

“You might be thinking that your house cat lives a sheltered life and would never come in contact with any illnesses, but the fact is that you can bring viruses and bacteria in on your shoes and clothes, and your dog or other critters that go outside can also bring them in,” Dr. Bonk told The Dodo. “So, even if your cat never goes outside, they aren’t fully protected without proper vaccinations.”

What vaccines do cats need?

Core vaccines for cat

The core vaccines are required for every cat, and they include:

  • Rabies
  • Feline calicivirus
  • Feline herpes virus
  • Panleukopenia

Fortunately, the last three (panleukopenia, feline herpes virus and feline calicivirus) come in a combination shot called the feline distemper vaccine. “They should receive one to three shots three to four weeks apart of this combo and then a booster one year later,” Dr. Bonk said. After the booster, this combo is good for three years.

“Rabies is given after 12 weeks of age, a booster after one year, and then every three years after,” Dr. Bonk said.

The cost for these core vaccinations ranges from $40–$80 in total for the first year and then $20–$50 for each booster shot after that.

Non-core vaccines for cats

Non-core vaccines are only given to cats who are at high risk of exposure based on their location or lifestyle. “These are for cats that are at high risk, such as those that go outside or that mingle with a lot of other cats,” Dr. Bonk said.

Non-core vaccinations include:

  • Bordetella
  • Bronchiseptica
  • Chlamydophila felis
  • Feline leukemia

The leukemia vaccine requires two initial shots given three to four weeks apart, a booster after one year, and then yearly to every three years after, depending on the cat’s level of risk. “Some cats may not require any boosters after that first year,” Dr. Bonk said.

Bordetella, bronchiseptica and chlamydophila felis are given annually for high-risk cats.

“The leukemia can be given as a combo shot with the three core vaccines and will cost an additional $15–$20 per year,” Dr. Bonk said. “Bordetella will cost about the same.”

When it comes to discounts for cat vaccines, you might get lucky.

Some vets will offer discounts for multiple cats being vaccinated, while others might give you a discount for having other procedures done. “[Some] veterinarians offer a 10 percent discount on all vaccines for cats who have been spayed or neutered,” Davis told The Dodo.

Additionally, some veterinary clinics or animal shelters may run discount vaccination clinics where they bulk vaccinate a large group of animals so it’s cheaper for you.

Does cat insurance cover vaccinations?

Most pet insurance policies don’t cover vaccinations or other preventative medicine without purchasing a rider (aka an add-on to your pet insurance plan). “This means your premium will go up, and they may only cover the core vaccines and not any additional ones,” Dr. Bonk said. “Be sure to read the fine print on any pet insurance policy before purchasing.”

While pet insurance policies usually don’t cover vaccines, having pet insurance can help tremendously if your cat were to have an emergency and require surgery.

Pet insurance can also help older cats who might be diagnosed with a disease and require special medical care. (Though policies don’t typically cover pre-existing conditions, so it’s best to get insurance as soon as possible so any conditions they develop in the future are covered!)

(If you're looking for pet insurance, you’ll want to check out Fetch by The Dodo because it's made by and for adoring pet parents, and because it's the most comprehensive coverage in the US and Canada, covering things that other providers don't or charge extra for.)

Cat vaccinations are an important part of owning a happy and healthy cat. Always consult your veterinarian to make sure you’re keeping up with your cat's shots and that she’s getting the ones she needs.