What Vaccinations should my Cat have?
We know that taking our cats for their vaccinations is important, but what diseases are we protecting them against?
Pet preventative health care schemes, like The Healthy Pet Club, offer benefits that include your cat’s vaccinations and health checks. These schemes can be a great way to spread the cost and save money at the same time.
Do Cat Vaccines always work?
Vaccinations work by inducing the immune system to make antibodies, protecting against infection. For various reasons a small number of cats will not create a full protective response.Giving two doses to kittens helps increase the chance of a full immune response, as do yearly boosters throughout their life.
Essential Vaccines for Cats
Feline Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (Calicivirus + Herpesvirus type 1) – Calicivirus and herpesvirus are the two most common causes of upper respiratory tract infection in cats, known colloquially as “cat flu”. These viruses cause a wide range of symptoms including eye infections and ulcers, inflammation of the mouth and gums, ulcers in the mouth, snotty nose and sneezing. These symptoms in turn can reduce the cats’ ability to smell and taste leading to inappetence and weight loss. “Cat flu” is spread in saliva and respiratory secretions, so is passed between cats by direct contact (such as grooming) or shared resources (such as food bowls). Once infected cats are never cured, and often experience relapses of infection through their lives especially in times of stress.
Panleukopenia – Panleukopenia virus causes severe diarrhoea and dehydration as well as a dangerously low white blood cell count. It is highly infectious and challenging to treat, but thankfully is very rare due to widespread vaccination.
Recommended Vaccines for Cats
Feline Leukaemia (FeLV) – Feline leukaemia virus infection causes severe depression of the immune system, anaemia, and can cause some types of cancer (such as lymphoma and leukaemia). Infected cats may not become ill straight away, but the majority die within a few years of diagnosis as there is no cure. FeLV is shed in saliva, and transmitted through sharing food bowls, grooming, or fighting (via bite wounds). For this reason vaccination is strongly recommended for outdoor cats, but all cats benefit from being protected. FeLV is easily diagnosed on a blood test and this is advised for all stray cats with unknown vaccine history.
Rabies – Rabies is not present in the UK, but vaccination is a requirement for any cats travelling abroad.
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