If you have tried to book your cat in for his annual booster vaccination recently then the news of a shortage of cat vaccinations may have already reached you. This is a national problem and is affecting most veterinary practices across the country, with supplies not expected to be back to normal until 2022.

As a vet in practice, myself and my team are having to carefully manage our stock of vaccinations to ensure that the most at-risk patients are still able to receive their doses. This means we are having to delay regular annual boosters for many cats. Hopefully, in this blog, I can give you a bit more information and answer some commonly asked questions.

Why does my cat need vaccinating?

Here in the UK, cats are regularly vaccinated against the following diseases –

  • Feline infectious enteritis (also known as feline panleukopenia or feline parvovirus). A virus that can cause severe diarrhoea and neurological signs in some animals
  • Cat flu (Feline herpesvirus and calicivirus). These cause upper respiratory tract systems such as a snotty nose, sneezing and weepy eyes)
  • Feline leukaemia virus. A disease that affects the immune system of cats, causing vulnerability to things like infections and tumours.

Kittens have a primary course of vaccinations from 9 weeks of age. This usually involves two injections 3 to 4 weeks apart. After this, cats need to have annual booster vaccinations to stop their immunity from waning. The exact components of your cat’s vaccination may vary year on year. But they will always need to be seen annually. Booster vaccinations are usually carried out every 12 months. But an interval of up to 15 months is still considered effective.

Why is there a shortage of cat vaccinations?

There are a couple of reasons why we are currently short of vaccinations for cats. One is thought to be the recent rise in pet ownership. Many people have used recent lockdowns to reevaluate their circumstances and have decided to take on a cat or a dog. This coincided with a disruption to routine services during the COVID pandemic meaning many existing pet owners had to postpone their normal preventative treatments. This backlog of vaccinations plus all the new pets coming through has put pressure on the vaccination supply chain.

Vaccinations are highly regulated medications that require many safety and efficacy checks during their manufacture. It is hard to speed up this process, but the vaccination manufacturers are working at full capacity to try and meet demands.

Will this put my cat at risk?

Vets are working hard to prioritise kittens to ensure they receive their primary course of vaccinations as normal. This does however mean adult cat’s booster vaccinations are experiencing a short-term postponement. A delay of up to 3 months after their vaccination is due is deemed to be safe for most adult cats, with their immunity not being adversely affected. So, your cat should not be at increased risk. But speak to your veterinary surgeon about your concerns if you have any.

What about my pet insurance?

Most pet insurance companies require your pet to be fully vaccinated otherwise their policy may be invalidated. However, some companies are being lenient at this time, understanding the issues that pet owners are facing. It is hard to comment on every pet insurance company’s stance so please speak with your pet’s provider for more information.

When will my cat be able to get his vaccination?

Your veterinary practice will advise you on when they can see your cat. They will be looking at the date that your cat’s vaccination is due and their stock of available vaccinations for the month.

It is not yet known how long the vaccination shortage will go on, so please be patient with your veterinary practice as they are working hard under exceptional circumstances.


As a practising vet, I understand the frustration of not being able to get in for your cat’s booster vaccination appointment. However, rest assured your veterinary practice will be carefully monitoring the situation and are scheduling appointments on a priority basis. If you have any concerns about your cat’s individual circumstances, then please speak with your practice for more information. 

Hopefully, things will be back on track at some point in the new year, but at the moment we are all watching this space!

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