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Felinexpress.com Home > Cat Health > Feline Vaccines

Feline Vaccines

When Marilyn Saunders was growing up in California in the 1960’s, she remembers vividly the family cat Princess. “Princess was a beautiful calico cat” Marilyn reminisces.

“She wandered the block, had several litters of kittens and never once went to the vet! She was 28 years old when she died. She lay down in the planter box and just went to sleep. We buried her there.”

Now Marilyn has another calico in her life. She just adopted her from a private family and she wonders; are vaccinations for cats really necessary?

It’s a valid question and one many cat lovers face, especially in light of the negative reactions that can occur from vaccinating a cat or worse getting a deadly form of cancer called fibrosarcoma from an injection of a “killed” virus.

How many vaccines are available for felines?

Would you believe sixty-eight vaccines currently available for cats? That’s a lot of kitty shots! There are five common (or core) viral diseases that veterinarians suggest you consider vaccinating against:

  • Rabies- a risk if your cat is an outside cat or allowed outside
    Vaccine: the Rabies Vaccine
    Possible side-effects: Rabies vaccine contains a protein that short-circuits the nervous system and can cause neurological damage. Also seizures, loss of motor skills, tissue damage, kidney and liver damage and Fibrosarcoma. In rare instances when a live virus is injected the cat can get vaccine induced rabies.
  • FeLV- or Feline Leukemia:
    Vaccine: several different vaccines exist that help to protect a cat against this disease.
    Possible side-effects: inflammation, lethargy, fever, benign lump formation, vaccine associated sarcomas
  • Feline Herpesvirus- causes symptoms similar to a cold or the cat flu
    Vaccine: FVRCP
    Possible side effects- fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, death
  • Calicivirus- cause of URI; watery eyes, sneezing, discharge, trouble breathing and oral ulcers
    Vaccine: FVRCP
    Possible side effects- fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, death
  • Panleukopenia- or Feline Distemper- highly contagious with bloody diarrhea, rapid dehydration and a high mortality rate
    Vaccine: FVRCP
    Possible side effects- fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, death

Please note that there are two types of vaccines that veterinarians offer: A live vaccine (recombinant or modified-live vaccine), or a killed vaccine. The live vaccine has been chemically altered so as not to produce the actual clinical disease, where the killed vaccine has an additive that causes swelling and some pain to the cat. The purpose of this additive is to alarm the body as to the presence of the dead vaccine so the body will protect itself. This type of vaccine is the one that can cause severe health issues, so ask your veterinarian first before any vaccine is administered. Is he using the safer vaccine?

If you are considering buying your vaccines online please use caution. If vaccines aren’t stored correctly they can go bad. Plus, there are counterfeit products out there that can even fool the experts. A better bet is to purchase the vaccines through a local feed store or pet supply store or buy them directly from your veterinarian.

No vaccine is considered 100% effective. Consider it more like a suit of armor your cat’s body puts on to ward off disease. If you have a newborn kitten who has been rejected by mom at the milk bar, then it is wise to vaccinate this kitten when it turns twelve-weeks old. If the kitten is already infected, the vaccine will not stop the disease from occurring, it may however slow it down.

Weigh the pros-and-cons of each vaccine before you schedule with your vet and do your research before deciding the best course of action. In most states, the Rabies vaccine is required by law. If you decide to vaccinate your cat, please let your veterinarian know that you do not want a killed virus. Never vaccinate your cat if your cat isn’t healthy. The risk is too great and you could put your cat in harm’s way. There is a lot of controversy currently about feline vaccines. Old-school vets are still advocating vaccinating cats annually while the more forward thinkers are saying we tend to over-vaccinate our cats. It all rests in your hands so choose wisely.

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