How can you safeguard your cat?
Getting your cat vaccinated against common feline diseases is the best thing you can do to ensure your cat lives a long and happy life. Kittens are immunised against disease only for the initial few weeks after birth as the mother’s milk transfers the antibodies which will fight disease. Once that period is over, future disease protection is dependent on you and your veterinarian.
How do vaccines work?
Vaccines contain small quantities of killed or modified strains of disease-causing bacteria, viruses or any other organism. When injected into the cat’s body, the vaccine triggers the immune system to produce antibodies, which are protein-based cells that defend against the disease.
When I should get my cat vaccinated?
The immunity gained by a kitten from mother’s milk reduces by the time he is 8-9 weeks old and this is the right time to get him vaccinated. In this first vaccination course, two or three injections are given usually with a gap of 3-4 weeks. After this the cat should have repeated vaccinations for the rest of his life. Always consult your vet for proper guidance regarding your pet vaccination schedule.
Which vaccinations should my cat receive?
According to majority of veterinarians, pets must be safeguarded against all the common diseases such as Feline Panleucopaenia, Feline Viral, Rhinotracheitis, Feline Calicivirus, Feline Chlamydiosis and Feline Leukaemia. Some other vaccinations may also be recommended by your vet, depending on history, environment, breed, etc.
- Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (“Cat Flu”): This virus causes the infection of upper respiratory tract in cats and like common cold in humans it is easily transferable from one cat to the other, so getting your cat vaccinated against this virus is very important. The symptoms reported after an attack from this virus are low grade fever, no desire to eat food, sneezing, coughing and discharge from the eyes and nose. It is more common in kittens, but it can be dangerous for the all unvaccinated cats because it cannot be treated well. A cat that recovers from this disease can remain a carrier for the rest of its life.
- Feline Calicivirus (“Cat Flu”): Another main virus that causes upper respiratory tract infections in cats, it is also very common and highly contagious. The symptoms after an attack are fever, swelling of the tongue and ulcers. Pneumonia is also reported ranging from mild to severe depending on the type of virus strain. This disease isn’t easy to treat, and even after recovery the infected cat can continue to infect other animals and suffer from persistent sneezing and runny eyes. Vaccination is must to protect your pet.
- Feline Panleucopaenia: Also know as Feline Infectious Enteritis, it is caused by a very resistant strain of virus that can survive outside a cat’s body for one year. That is why most of the cats will be exposed to this infection during their lifetime. Infection rates in vulnerable cats are around 90% to 100%, so vaccination is incredibly important. Symptoms of this disease are lethargy, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever and severe dehydration. Only vaccination can prevent a cat from infection, as the treatment itself is not very effective and the recovery period is limited. Once a cat suffers from this disease, than most likely it can spread it to others even after recovery.
- Feline Leukaemia (FeLV): Infection with the Feline Leukaemia Virus can result in a multitude of serious health problems for your cat – everything from cancerous conditions such as leukaemia to a wide range of secondary infections caused by the destruction of the immune response system. After initial exposure to the virus, a cat may show no symptoms of its presence for months, if not years, yet all the while infect others. Testing is available to determine the FeLV status of your cat. If he or she has not yet been infected, but is likely to come into contact with cats that are, vaccination against this potentially fatal disease is highly recommended.
- Feline Chlamydiosis: It is a bacterial infection that causes 15 to 20% of other Feline respiratory diseases and is most common in multi-cat environments. It is highly contagious with an increased infection rate, particularly in young kittens. It causes a local infection of the mucous membranes in the eyes and possibly the lungs. In rare cases, Chlamydiosis can be transmitted to humans by direct contact. Prevention can only be attained by vaccination.
Other Recommended Vaccines
After evaluating your cat’s particular situation and risk factors, your veterinarian may also recommend vaccination against other infectious diseases. These might include:
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
This disease is mainly transmitted in deep bite wounds and scratches by infected cats, and can cause debilitation of the immune system leading to disease in various organs and chronic infections. A decision to vaccinate should be made after discussion with a veterinarian. The vet will weigh up the risk of the disease versus the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Is vaccination effective or not?
As with any drug or surgery, 100% prevention from disease after vaccination is not guaranteed. That said, vaccination is the best method to protect your cat from diseases, in combination with good hygiene and nutritious food. Vaccination is very cost effective, compared to the cost and distress caused by treating the illness.