Cats are troubled with virus diseases - five of which can be prevented by vaccination, ie Herpes and Calici Viruses (respiratory viruses that cause "cat flu"), Feline Enteritis Virus (similar to Parvovirus in dogs), Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV).
Feline Enteritis (also known as Feline Panleucopenia)
This is a very contagious disease 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.
Feline Respiratory Disease ("Cat Flu")
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.
Chlamydia (also known as Chlamydophila)
Feline Chlamydia causes a severe persistent conjunctivitis in up to 30% of cats.
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, 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.
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.
There is one troublesome disease that currently has no vaccine available, ie Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP).
Vaccine failure may occur if the mother of the kittens was a carrier. She may transmit the disease before vaccination occurs. This is frequently a problem.
The vaccine that we use at Iron Mines Veterinary Clinic requires two vaccines to be given at 8 weeks and 12 weeks of age (please note: FIV vaccines require 3 vaccines at the start, then annually).
In catteries with endemic disease, help from veterinarians with special interest in cat diseases and the vaccine manufacturers should be sought.
Live vaccines are probably better replaced by killed vaccines in catteries and there are less side effects. Here at Iron Mines, we use a killed vaccine that produces a robust immune response in our feline patients.
Latest News: A chlamydial vaccine is now available as a 4-in-1 vaccine from Boehringer Ingelheim. Contact us for more information.