Shelter Health

Feline Shelter Vaccines

New! Downloadable Poster

This is designed for anyone who is vaccinating, such as shelter intake staff, veterinary technicians, veterinary assistants, medical staff, foster coordinators if they provide booster vaccines, etc. Post it in strategic spots like the intake room, exam room, by the vaccine area and the foster exam area for fast, at-a-glance guidance. Get your free poster now.

Looking for a poster and guidelines for dogs? Here you go!

General Guidelines for Feline Vaccinations

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) vaccine guidelines for shelter cats and kittens are:

Recommended Vaccines*

Non-Core Vaccines

NOT Recommended

Feline Herpes




Chlamydophila felis

Bordetella bronchiseptica

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)

Feline Leukemia (FeLV)


* "FVRCP" vaccines cover the first three viruses.

The Rabies vaccine is considered "optional" for shelter felines. The AAFP guidelines recommend that a 1 year rabies vaccine be administered to all cats according to age-appropriate guidelines at the time of discharge from the shelter. AAFP acknowledges that the timing may be different in shelters where animals stay long-term.

Types of Vaccines

Many types of vaccines are available, and more being developed and introduced to the market. A shelter must choose wisely based on the needs of the animals as well as the shelter.

For shelter felines, the AAFP recommends the following types of vaccines:


  • Modified live vaccines provide quick onset of immunity.
  • Injectable subcutaneous FVRCP vaccines instead of or in addition to intranasal are best able to provide panleukopenia protection in contaminated environments.


  • This vaccine is available as a recombinant or killed injectable product. Either is appropriate.

When to Vaccinate


Adult Cats (>20 wks old)

Kittens (4 to 20 wks old)

Where to Administer



Administer one dose at intake.

Administer a second dose 2 to 3 weeks later.

Administer one dose at intake.

Administer additional doses once every 2 to 3 weeks until the kitten is 16 to 20 weeks old.

Right forelimb for injection; nose for intranasal

Subcutaneous recommended for initial vaccine in the shelter and for kittens 4 weeks and older to protect against panleukopenia 

Intranasal FVRCP vaccines may be given simultaneously and/or additionally used for upper respiratory virus protection


Administer one dose, usually on exit. Some long term facilities administer on entry.

Administer one dose at legal age (> 12 weeks), usually on exit. Some long term facilities administer on entry.

Right rear limb