Food for thought on Cat Vaccines
By Bishops Vets, May 23 2017 12:00PM
Vaccinations are something that we do day in, day out in veterinary practice. We are used to seeing our patients for their health check and booster vaccinations yearly. But the question is do our clients understand the benefits of vaccines like we do? A recent study of 2000 cat owners suggests not so we thought we would give a little more insight into why we are recommending annual vaccines.
According to the study, just under half of cat owners questioned didn’t think that cats should be vaccinated yearly and just under a third do not vaccinate at all. Also, 60% didn’t know which diseases were protected against by the vaccines.
So, what is in our vaccines? We routinely vaccinate cats against panleukopenia (enteritis), calicivirus and herpesvirus (both part of the 'cat flu' complex), and feline leukaemia virus.
Cat flu is a infectious condition caused by a number of viruses and bacteria. The vaccines we use protect against feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus, both of which play a part in this complex condition. Symptoms that cats may show if they have cat flu include sneezing, runny nose, runny eyes, a high temperature and/or mouth ulcers. Some of the viruses and bacteria that cause cat flu can remain dormant over time and flare up to cause symptoms if the cat is stressed or otherwise unwell.
Feline Enteritis is caused by feline panleukopaenia virus. This is a nasty disease that causes symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomiting, lethargy, dehydration, high temperature and anaemia. In some cases it can be fatal, especially in kittens.
Feline Leukaemia Virus can cause anaemia, cancers such as lymphoma and leukaemia, and suppression of the immune system, which leaves the cat more at risk from other types of disease.
Kittens can be vaccinated from 8 weeks old and we recommend annual boosters. As cats age, they can retain immunity to some parts of the vaccine for longer than a year but not all. They are also more prone to other health problems as they get older, which can reduce their ability to fight infectious disease - therefore it is important to continue to vaccinate adult cats yearly.
One question that we do get asked is if cats need to be vaccinated if they live indoors only. The answer is yes - at least to the flu and enteritis components of the vaccine. The reason for this is that cats don’t have to have direct contact with other cats to become infected - some viruses can be carried indoors on peoples’ shoes for example.
If you ever have any questions about why we are vaccinating your pets, feel free to ask us during your appointment. We also have literature that you can take away with you to read at your leisure.
We hope that this has been helpful and we do always welcome your feedback. If there are any other topics that you would like to see us blog about, please let us know!