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Vaccinating Your Cat

Cats are usually vaccinated annually against a range of potentially lethal diseases. At present there is some debate going on in the veterinary profession about whether animals are being vaccinated too frequently.

Vaccination has a very important role in veterinary medicine. It allows animals to be protected from a variety of potentially lethal diseases by stimulating their immune systems to recognize and attack the pathogens which cause the illnesses. However there has been recent concern about the frequency of vaccination in animals, with specific concerns regarding potential side-effects. The main two concerns in cats are the development of tumours at the injection site (sarcoma) which is believed to be due to the irritating action of the adjuvent in vaccines and the development of clinical signs of respiratory disease following vaccination against flu when a live vaccine has been used. Both of these problems are rare but are obviously of concern to vets and cat owners.

The diseases which cats are usually vaccinated against annually are:

Feline calicivirus
Feline herpes virus
Feline panleucopenia
Feline leukaemia virus

Other vaccines sometimes given to cats include:

Rabies vaccination - which is a requirement under the PETS travel scheme and for export of animals to other countries.
Bordetella bronchiseptica vaccination - in the form of a nasal droplet.
Chlamydia felis

Kittens are usually given their first vaccination at 8 or 9 weeks of age (it can be as early as 6 weeks) with a second vaccination at 12 weeks. Full protection is achieved 14 days following the second injection. Thereafter booster vaccination is usually given annually.

Older cats may start their initial vaccinations at any time (unless they are sick when vaccination is not generally recommended). They will require a second vaccination to be given 2-4 weeks after the first. Like kittens the vaccine will induce immunity after about 2 weeks. Cats are then usually given an annual booster.

I believe that any vaccination program should be tailored to suit the individual pet's needs and circumstances. Some animals may be at very high risk of contracting disease (e.g. those in rescue homes, or multi-pet environments). Other animals will have a much lower risk of disease and this should be taken into account when formulating a vaccination plan. Animals from a low risk environment may need regular vaccination to comply with regulations when they go into kennels or to travel abroad.

Owners should be informed that vaccination failure is rare but possible and that there are potential side-effects when vaccines are used (again these are relatively rare). One of the reasons that vets would like to continue to vaccinate every animal every year is that in this way the pet will get a general health check annually and health problems will be diagnosed and treated early.

In deciding what to do about your pet's vaccination you should speak to your veterinary surgeon. If you do decide against the annual vaccination it is still worth taking your pet along for an annual health check as any disorders may be detected early by your vet and treated before they become a major problem.













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All Rights Reserved | Content is provided for information only. All content on vetbase.co.uk is protected by copyright and therefore may not be copied without specific written permission from the author. Disclaimer: The content of this website is based upon the opinions of Samantha Coe, unless otherwise stated. Individual articles, extracts, and any links to external sites are based upon the opinions of the respective author(s), who may retain copyright. The information on this website is not intended to replace a consultation with a qualified veterinary professional and is not intended as medical advice. The purpose of this site is the sharing of knowledge and information - Samantha Coe encourages you to make informed healthcare decisions for animals in your care based upon your research and in consultation with your vet.