Important Vaccinations for Your Cat
The money spent on vaccinating your cat could save you a lot of money later on. Many diseases vaccinated for can cause your pet prolonged suffering, which need not happen.
What Diseases Does The Vaccine Cover? Vaccinations allow your cats' immune system to recognise specific diseases and build up antibodies that will combat that particular disease.
Diseases vaccinated for, via the triple vaccine, are:
Feline infectious enteritis (FIE, feline panleukopenia, feline parvovirus)
Feline infectious enteritis is a disease caused by infection with feline parvovirus. This virus can be responsible for a severe and often fatal form of gastroenteritis. Affected cats typically show signs of severe vomiting and diarrhoea, but the disease may be so severe as to cause sudden death with no other signs.
Feline herpesvirus (FHV-1) and feline calicivirus (FCV) – Cat 'flu
Two viruses – FHV-1 and FCV – are responsible for the majority of cases of cat 'flu, or acute upper respiratory tract disease. These viruses are extremely common, and infection results in a variety of signs including sneezing, nasal discharge, conjunctivitis, ocular discharge, mouth ulceration, pharyngitis (inflamed throat), coughing and, sometimes pneumonia.
Disease following infection varies from being mild to very severe, and occasionally fatal. Recovery may take from a few days to several weeks, and severe disease can result in permanent damage to the nose or eyes. Following infection many cats remain carriers of these viruses (although they may no longer show any signs of disease), thus acting as a source of infection for others. The viruses do not survive long in the environment so infection is usually acquired through close contact between cats.
Without vaccinations, any one of these diseases could lead to the premature death of your cat. Additional vaccinations are available optionally for Chlamydia and Feline leukaemia virus (Felv).
Feline chlamydophilosis. This is a type of specialised bacterium that Feline chlamydophilosis ( Chlamydophila felis, feline causes mainly conjunctivitis in cats. The bacterium is very fragile and cannot survive in the environment, so is transmitted by direct contact between cats. Infection is most common in kittens and young cats from multicat household environments. Infection results in mild to severe conjunctivitis and ocular discharge. Mild sneezing and nasal discharge can also be seen.
Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV)
Infection with FeLV frequently results in persistent, life-long infection. Cats that remain infected with the virus generally develop fatal disease. Most will die or be euthanased within three years of being diagnosed with the infection. Persistent FeLV infection causes disease through a variety of different means, but most cats die due to immunsuppression caused by the persistent infection, progressive anaemia, or through the development of tumours (lymphoma) or leukaemia.
Infection with FeLV has been controlled by testing for the virus (using blood tests) and removing or isolating infected cats. In recent years, FeLV vaccines have been introduced which offer protection against infection and can therefore be used to protect cats at risk of being exposed to infection.
What do The Vaccinations do? The only way a cat can be immune to these conditions is if it is immunised or has contracted and survived the disease.
Essentially, the cat is inoculated with an inert form of these diseases, this trains the immune system to recognise the infection and resist it before it gains a foothold.
When Should I Vaccinate my Kitten? Kittens are not usually vaccinated for the first nine weeks of life. During this period, they usually gain immunity from their mothers' first milk. If the mother cat has been vaccinated this immunity is then passed on to her kittens.
After this initial nine-week period immunity begins to taper off, vaccinations and yearly boosters take over providing continued protection against these diseases.
Why Two to Start? Two initial vaccinations will be given to your kitten.
The first vaccination is used to "kick-start" the cats immune system in preparation for the second vaccine.
Two/three weeks after the first vaccination your cat will be given the second one.
The second vaccination brings the cats' immune system up to a level that will protect them from the diseases vaccinated for.
Revaccination is required yearly as "booster shots". This preserves the level of immunity and stops your cat from contracting the infections covered by the vaccination.
Cats tend to roam and come into contact with other cats in the neighbourhood, if these cats are not vaccinated your cat is in danger from any one of the deadly diseases already mentioned.
Also by vaccinating your cat, you are aiding to reduce the incidence of disease among your local cat population.