THE IMPORTANCE OF VACCINATING OUR CATS
Vaccination has revolutionised control of infectious disease in our pets. Vaccination not only helps prevent diseases occurring in individuals, but also helps provide 'herd immunity' or to help protect the pet population as a whole. Responsible pet care requires kittens receive their initial course of vaccinations to help provide protection when they are young, followed by regular yearly vaccination in adult cats to help maintain adequate immunity against diseases.
Why are kitten vaccinations so important?
Kittens are ‘temporarily’ protected against many diseases by antibodies received through their mother’s milk. But as their maternal antibodies decline in the first few months of lives, so does their protection against diseases. This is why a series of vaccinations are necessary for a kitten.
Why are adult cat vaccinations so important?
The immunity from kitten vaccinations weakens over time as our cats grow up, which can make them susceptible to infectious diseases (particularly if they are exploring outdoors or coming into contact with other unvaccinated cats). Annual health checks and booster vaccinations provide the best protection for the life of your cat and also help raise any questions or issues you may have about your cats health as they grow up.
A guide to vaccinating your kitten/cat:
- Ideally, kittens receive a series of 3 vaccinations at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age, which help provide protection against some or all of the following:
- Feline Panleucopenia
- Feline Herpesvirus
- Feline Calicivirus
- Feline Leukaemia virus
- Feline Chlamydia
- And, depending on you cat's lifestyle, your Veterinarian may also recommend vaccinating against Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (or FIV), which is a series of three vaccinations two weeks apart.
- As an adult to help provide continued protection against infectious diseases we recommend:
- A yearly booster vaccination for those that have received their kitten vaccinations
- OR an initial vaccination followed by a booster vaccination 2-4 weeks apart, and yearly booster vaccinations thereafter
At Kojonup Veterinary Hospital we know that every kitten and cat has a different lifestyle and different needs. As such, our Veterinarians recommend tailoring your cat's vaccinations to their personal needs and are more than happy to chat with you about what vaccinations suit your cat.
Please feel free to call our clinic to discuss a suitable vaccination regime for your pet kitten or cat
After vaccination care
Following vaccination, it is common for your cat to be quieter than usual and may even have some mild tenderness at the vaccination site. We strongly recommend keeping your cat in a comfortable/safe area inside the house with adequate access to food and water to help promote a quick recovery.
If your cat's response seems severe, or you have any concerns following vaccination, please do not hesistate to contact our clinic or afterhours service for advice
INFECTIOUS DISEASES OF CATS THAT WE VACCINATE AGAINST
Feline Enteritis (also known as Feline Panleucopenia)
- It is very contagious and the death rate is high, especially under 12 months of age. Pregnant cats may lose their young or give birth to kittens with abnormalities, quite often with brain damage. Symptoms are depression, loss of appetite, uncontrollable vomiting and diarrhoea, often with blood and severe abdominal pain.
- The virus spreads so easily that heavily contaminated areas may need cleaning with a special disinfectant. Cats that do recover may continue to carry the virus for some time and infect other cats.
Feline Respiratory Disease (also known as "Cat flu")
- In 90% of cases Feline Respiratory Disease is caused by Feline Herpesvirus and/or Feline Calicivirus.
- Feline Respiratory Disease affects cats of all ages, especially young kittens, Siamese and Burmese cats. It is highly contagious and causes sneezing, coughing, runny eyes, nasal discharge, loss of appetite and tongue ulcers.
- Fortunately, the death rate is low except in young kittens, but the disease is distressing and may persist for several weeks. Recovered cats can continue to carry and spread the infection for long periods, and can show signs of the disease again if they become stressed.
Chlamydia (also known as Chlamydophila)
- Feline Chlamydia causes a severe persistent conjunctivitis in up to 30% of cats and is more common in multiple cat households.
- Kittens are more severely affected by Chlamydia when also infected with “Cat Flu”, and Chlamydia can be shed for many months. Vaccination against cat flu and Chlamydia helps protects against clinical disease.
Feline Leukaemia (FeLV)
- Feline Leukaemia is a serious disease of cats caused by feline leukaemia virus.
- The virus attacks the immune system and may be associated with lack of appetite, weight loss and apathy, pale or yellow mucous membranes, vomiting, diarrhoea, reproductive problems, increased susceptibility to other infections, leukaemia and tumours. Many cats may be infected and show no signs at all.
- About one third of infected cats remain chronically infected and may shed virus in their saliva, tears, nasal secretions and urine. The disease is then spread to uninfected cats by mutual grooming, fighting, sneezing or even flea bites.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
- Feline AIDS is a disease caused by infection with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and affects the cat’s immune system. Their natural defence against attack by other diseases may be seriously affected, much in the same way as human AIDS.
- This disease is not transmissible to humans.
- FIV is almost always transmitted by bites from infected cats. The virus that causes the disease is present in saliva.
- While some infected cats show no sign of disease, others may display initial symptoms such as fever, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, lethargy and swollen lymph nodes.
- As the disease progresses, symptoms may occur such as weight loss, sores in and around the mouth, eye lesions, poor coat and chronic infections.
- Eventually, the immune system becomes too weak to fight off other infections and diseases. As a result, the cat may die from one of these subsequent infections.
- Unfortunately in our area, a lot of cats are infected with this virus.