What You Need To Know About Vaccinating Your Cat Before Boarding

Posted on: 16 January 2016

You may never need to board your cat on short notice, but in case you do face a personal emergency where you must go out of town or have the opportunity to embark on a last-minute travel adventure, you'll need to find accommodations for your furry friend while you're away from home.

The problem is that boarding facilities often require that your pet meet certain health requirements, including up-to-date vaccinations. If your cat has not had regular vaccinations, it will be an additional challenge scrambling to schedule a vet visit to catch up on those required shots.

If you didn't know about this requirement, and your cat does need to get some vaccinations, here's what you need to ask the facility where you plan to board.

What Vaccines are Required for Boarding Cats?

Most boarding facilities are only concerned about the most communicable diseases. Unlike dogs, cats generally aren't boarded together -- they have individual kennels or areas where they sleep, eat and exercise. But really nasty illnesses and those that can be spread through the air are still a concern for boarding facilities. 

A current rabies vaccination is usually the top requirement, and that's because cats can pass the disease on to human staff. Because cats in a boarding situation -- despite everyone's best efforts -- are more likely to be stressed, they may be more likely to bite their human handlers, which can be a risk. Some facilities will waive this requirement if the rabies vaccination is not legally required for cats in your area and your cat is indoors only.

Also, many facilities require the FVRCP (it stands for Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis Calicivirus Panleukopenia) vaccine, which protects against distemper. Distemper, or panleukopenia, is similar to the parvovirus in dogs, is very contagious and can be fatal.

Are There Issues Because Your Cat Got Vaccinations Recently?

Sometimes, vaccinations can produce reactions in cats, just like in humans. And the symptoms that a cat has from being vaccinated may mimic an actual disease. 

Because no boarding facility wants to deal with a sick animal, they may have requirements about receiving any vaccines at least 2 to 3 days before boarding. Some shots, including bordetella, can produce symptoms for up to 30 days; this one is, however, often recommended for cats that will be boarded because bordetella can spread relatively easily.

Are There Other Health Requirements?

Almost every kennel you might consider checks incoming cats for signs of parasites, including fleas, ear mites or fungal infections like ringworm. If your cat shows signs of any of these, the best case scenario is that you will be required to purchase treatment or medication as well as pay for it to be administered. This is likely to be more expensive than having this done by your veterinarian's office and much more expensive than doing it yourself.

In a worst-case scenario, your pet will be denied admission entirely, or at least until a veterinarian signs off on having examined and treated whatever parasite or illness was detected. This can be a real problem if you already have plans to leave on a certain day.

Talk to your veterinarian about any vaccines or other health care that is recommended for animals that will be boarded. Your cat boarding facility staff can also answer your questions.