All about Cat Vaccines
What is a Vaccine? A vaccine is a substance used to stimulate production of antibodies and provide immunity against one or several diseases. A vaccines is prepared from the causative agent of a disease, its products, or a synthetic substitute treated to act as an antigen without inducing the disease.
Why is it important to vaccinate your cat?
It is vitally important to vaccinate your cat to provide them with the immunities needed to aid in warding off specific infections. If your kitten or cat is not currently vaccinated they can be at risk for developing serious infections which might have otherwise been prevented.
Which vaccines does your cat need?
You cat needs to receive what is considered the “core vaccines.” These are the vaccines which are deemed to be crucial for protecting your kitten’s health. The core vaccines include the FVRCP, which is named for the viruses which it protects against; feline rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, panleukopenia, and the rabies vaccine.
Does my cat really need the rabies vaccine?
This is a question we often hear from people, and honestly a question we used to ask ourselves years ago as well. The answer we now give however a resounding YES! Reason #1, is that the vaccine in fact is required by law in all US states. Every dog and cat in the country is required to be vaccinated against rabies. The other reason is that despite the majority of people who think that there is no way their cat is at risk, the fact is that the risk is very much indeed real. Since the beginning of breeding cats many years ago, we have now heard many stories of indoor cats being exposed or infected by wildlife getting into homes either by mice or squirrels or even bats. Sadly, these unfortunate cats all had to be euthanized because they had not been vaccinated. That is the harsh reality of the laws, even if a cat is not infected; just the exposure deems them to be euthanized.
What Vaccines does my cat NOT need?
FeLV- your cat only needs to be vaccinated against FeLV, which is feline leukemia, if they are exposed to outdoor cats like feral cats in the neighborhood, or if they live with another cat who goes outdoors. Feline Leukemia is spread through secretions, so even an infected outdoor cat sneezing onto your cat could cause the transmission. Therefore, if your cat even frequently spends time on a screened porch unsupervised they may be at risk. Another big consideration of potential risk is if you rescue cats from outdoors or local shelters, then you should definitely have your cat vaccinated for FeLV.
FIP – This vaccine is never recommended because they vaccine has very serious potential side effects. Research has shown that the benefits do not outweigh the risks of vaccination.
Feline Aids – This is another vaccine that like the FIP vaccine is not recommended because most veterinarians do not believe the benefits of the vaccine to outweigh the risk of the vaccine.
Chlamydia and Bordetella – These vaccines are to protect against chlamydia felis, and bordetella bronchiseptica. These vaccines are not routinely administered to cats and not recommended unless your cats will be exposed to an environment where these infections are spread, or to another pet that may be contagious. An example would be a cat that is living with a dog who is routinely boarded at a facility and thus exposed to other animals with bordetella.
How often does my cat need vaccines?
In years past it was routine for veterinarians to recommend yearly vaccines for cats and dogs. However, as of 2004, the American Veterinary Association changed their vaccine protocol recommendations. They now recommend only vaccinating cats and dogs for their core vaccines once every three years. Some veterinarians are not vexed on the new protocols and want to vaccinate your cats more frequently however, so be sure that you ask for the 3 year version of the FVRCP and rabies vaccines to limit unnecessary exposure to your cat.