Vaccination has revolutionised control of infectious disease in our pets. It is essential that all pets are adequately vaccinated to help protect the pet population as a whole. Responsible pet care requires kittens to be given their initial course of vaccinations, but this cannot protect them for the rest of their lives. Adult cats require regular vaccination to maintain immunity against disease.
A Guide to Cat Vaccination
At Mt Barker Veterinary Hospital we vaccinate for diseases which are considered to be the core diseases affecting cats in Australia. Our standard vaccination program requires two vaccinations given 3-4 weeks apart. The terms often used are "F3" vaccination or "F5" vaccination.
Over time the effect of the vaccine will decline and your pet may again become susceptible to disease. Annual booster vaccinations provide the best means of protecting your pet for life.
When Is it Best to Start Vaccinating Your Cat?
When kittens are born they are ‘temporarily’ protected against many diseases by antibodies received through their mother’s milk. These maternal antibodies start to decline in the first couple of months of their lives. A mother cat which is unvaccinated will have no immunity whatsoever to pass onto her offspring.
To balance the affect of neutralising maternal antibodies and a kitten's own immune system developing it is recommended that kittens are vaccinated from 8 weeks of age. It is then very important that the full course of vaccinations is given to ensure the immune response matures properly.
Adult cats can receive their first vaccination at any age.
After Vaccination Care
Following vaccination your cat may be off-colour for a day or two, or have some slight swelling or tenderness at the injection site. Access to food and water and a comfortable area to rest are usually all that is required for a quick recovery. However, if the response seems more severe, you should contact us for advice.
CORE INFECTIOUS FELINE DISEASES WE VACCINATE AGAINST
Feline Enteritis (also known as Feline Panleucopenia)
It is very contagious 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, severe abdominal pain, or uncontrollable vomiting and diarrhoea (often with blood).
The virus spreads so easily that heavily contaminated areas may need cleaning with a special disinfectant. Cats that do recover may continue to carry the virus for some time and infect other cats.
Feline Respiratory Disease (Cat Flu)
Cat flu is caused in 90% of cases by feline herpes virus (feline rhinotracheitis) and / or feline calicivirus.
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.
Fortunately, the death rate is low except in young kittens, but the disease is distressing and may persist for several weeks. Recovered cats can continue to carry and spread the infection for long periods, and can show signs of the disease again if they become stressed.
Chlamydia (also known as Chlamydophila)
Feline Chlamydia causes a severe persistent conjunctivitis in up to 30% of cats. Kittens are more severely affected by Chlamydia when also infected with “Cat Flu”, and Chlamydia can be shed for many months. Vaccination against cat flu and Chlamydia helps protects against clinical disease.
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 and apathy, 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.
About one third of infected cats remain chronically infected and may shed virus in their saliva, tears, nasal secretions and urine. The disease is then spread to uninfected cats by mutual grooming, fighting, sneezing or even flea bites.
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.
FIV is almost always transmitted by bites from infected cats. The virus that causes the disease is present in saliva. While some infected cats show no sign of disease, others may display initial symptoms such as fever, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, lethargy and swollen lymph nodes. As the disease progresses, symptoms may occur such as weight loss, sores in and around the mouth, eye lesions, poor coat and chronic infections. Eventually, the immune system becomes too weak to fight off other infections and diseases. As a result, the cat may die from one of these subsequent infections.
FIV / feline AIDS is not transmissible to humans.