Vaccination has revolutionised control of infectious disease in our pets. It is essential that all pets are adequately vaccinated to help protect the pet population as a whole. Responsible pet care requires kittens to be given their initial course of vaccinations, but this cannot protect them for the rest of their lives. Adult cats require regular vaccination to maintain immunity against disease.
Kittens are ‘temporarily’ protected against many diseases by antibodies received through their mother’s milk. These maternal antibodies decline in the first couple of months of their lives, however until they drop sufficiently they can also neutralise vaccines. This is why a series of vaccinations is necessary for a kitten.
Adult Cat Vaccination
The immunity from kitten vaccination weakens over time and your pet can again become susceptible to disease. Annual health checks and booster vaccinations will provide the best protection for the life of your pet.
A Guide to Cat Vaccination
We routinely vaccinate kittens with a F3 vaccine to protect them against cat flu (feline rhinotrachetitis and calcivirus) and feline enteritis. We generally give three vaccinations, at 6-8 weeks, 12-14 weeks and a final needle at 16-18 weeks. in recent years a vaccine has become available for FIV ( feline AIDS). FIV is transmitted by cat bite wounds, so we also recommend cats that spend time outdoors are vaccinated against FIV. This requires 3 injections given 2 weeks apart, usually commencing at 12 weeks, however they can be started at any time. Cats that are over 6 months and have been outside require a blood test prior to commencing the FIV vaccinations to ensure they are not already infected. Thereafter annual boosters are required for all diseases. Each vaccination includes a complete health examination which allows early detection of disease and provides an opportunity to discuss any problems you may have with your cat.
After Vaccination Care
Following vaccination your cat may be off-colour for a day or two, or have some slight swelling or tenderness at the injection site. Access to food and water and a comfortable area to rest are usually all that is required for a quick recovery. However, if the response seems more severe, you should contact us for advice.
Please give us a call to discuss a suitable vaccination regime for your pet kitten or cat.
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 (Cat flu)
It is caused in 90% of cases by feline herpesvirus (feline rhinotracheitis) 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.
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.
The virus that causes FIV is present in saliva, hence it is almost always transmitted by bites from infected cats.
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 Australia, a lot of cats are infected with this virus, so we recommend vaccination against FIV if your cat goes outside at all.