You may have heard about the current shortage of cat vaccines. This is a global shortage. And it’s now affecting our kittens and cats here in Australia – those with a loving home, those in shelters and those that may need to stay in a cattery soon.

So what do you need to know?

Which vaccines are in short supply?

The core F3 vaccine is in short supply. This vaccine protects cats against enteritis (feline panleukopaenia, a parvovirus) and cat flu (feline calicivirus and feline herpesvirus).

This shortage has been caused by issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Facilities focused on producing COVID-19 vaccines which led to supply chain disruptions. More cats were adopted during the pandemic too.

Which cats are most at risk?

Kittens that have not been vaccinated are particularly vulnerable to disease because of this vaccine shortage. These diseases can be very dangerous – even fatal.

Adult cats who haven’t been vaccinated before or whose vaccination history is unknown (for example, cats in shelters) are also at high risk.

Adult cats need F3 booster shots regularly. Outdoor cats should get this booster every year. Your vet may advise that it can be done less frequently for indoor-only cats.

When is the shortage expected to end?

The shortage is expected to ease in early 2024. But because there’ll be a need to catch-up on delayed boosters, vaccine stock levels may take a bit longer to return to normal.

My cat is due for their annual shot soon. What should I do?

The Australian Veterinary Association is advising vets to:

  • prioritise vaccinating previously unvaccinated kittens and cats wherever possible
  • delay adult boosters if possible.

The first thing you should do is speak to your vet and follow their advice.

Cat People Of Melbourne also recommends that if your cat’s F3 booster shot has to be delayed, keep them indoors to reduce their risk of getting sick.

If your cat is an indoor-only cat (which we believe is safest for your cat) – great!

But if your cat spends time outdoors, try to move them indoors until they can get their booster. They may adjust to this change more easily if you do it gradually, so increase the amount of time they stay indoors a little bit each day.

I’ve booked my cat into a cattery during the holiday season. What should I do?

Catteries usually require cats to have had a vaccination booster in the 12 months before their stay.

Some states have mandatory codes of practice for this. This means catteries in those locations can’t let cats stay unless they’re up to date with the vaccinations.

Speak to the cattery you’ve booked into to find out what they’re doing.

Wherever you live, be aware that if your cat isn’t up to date with their vaccinations and they stay in a cattery, their risk of getting sick increases. This is because they’ll be closer to other cats who may also not be recently vaccinated.

If your cattery won’t accept your unvaccinated cat or they will accept them but you don’t want to take the risk, consider a pet sitter instead. A family member, friend or a paid pet sitter can stay at your home or visit each day while you’re away to feed and care for your cat.

I have more questions. What should I do?

Your vet is your best source of information about vaccines and your cat. They will be able to answer your questions knowing your cat’s vaccine history.

You should also talk to your vet if you’re planning on adopting a new kitten or cat soon.

Your local council may also have information. Check their website or speak to their animal management team.