Cat Vaccinations

We routinely vaccinate against “cat flu”, feline viral enteritis and feline leukaemia virus. These can all be given together as a single injection at nine weeks and then again at twelve weeks. Annual booster vaccinations are given along with a complete health check examination. We send out reminders to help you remember these important check-ups.

Diseases we vaccinate against:

cat vaccinations

  1. Feline Panleucopaenia Virus – This is a disease of young kittens and cats and unvaccinated adults. Mortality rate is 25-75%, Route of infection is ingestion of infected material, direct cat-to-cat contact and possibly biting insects such as fleas and midges. The infection may cause one or a combination of the following symptoms;
    • Severe incoordination
    • Severe sickness or diarrhoea
    • Severe destruction of white blood cells
  2. Cat Flu – there are 2 main viruses which cause cat flu; Feline Herpes and Feline Calici Virus. Both cause severe symptoms of sneezing, ocular discharge and nasal discharge, high temperature and inappetance. Feline calici virus may attach to the gums causing chronic gum inflammation and also severe ulceration of the tongue. Route of infection is intranasal, oral or conjuctival spread from other infected cats.
  3. Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV) 1-2% of the general population of cats is affected by this virus. FeLV causes cancer of the white blood cells (leukaemia) and development of solid tumours (lymphomas). It is a potentially fatal disease with 80-90% of FeLV infected cats dying within 3-4 years. Route of infection is direct contact between cats as large quantities of virus are shed in urine, saliva and faeces. Cat fights, mutual grooming, sharing of litter trays and food bowls are the most common route. Infected queens give birth to infected kittens, which may then go on to develop the disease and die early in life.
  4. Feline Chlamydia Infection – an organism which can be regarded as both a virus and bacteria. If causes severe watery ocular discharge and conjunctivitis, initially in one eye but progressing to affect both. The discharge becomes yellow, thick and tacky with a mild nasal discharge and sneezing. The disease can be treated with a 2-4 week course of antibiotics and eye ointment but with only partial and varying success. The disease often continues to recur sporadically throughout life, especially at times of stress. Route of infection is direct contact between cats, queen to kitten when suckling or in the womb.
  5. Rabies – only required if travelling abroad.

Commonly asked questions regarding vaccination

Why is it important to keep our pets vaccinated?

As with all species, specific disease incidence within the general population is kept very low simply because, as caring pet owners, we keep our animals up to date with their vaccinations. If we all suddenly stopped vaccinating the disease incidence would increase dramatically.

Are vaccines safe?

Serious side effects are very, very rare following administration of a vaccine. All veterinary vaccines undergo a rigorous, thorough and independent evaluation of their safety and efficacy.

Are booster vaccinations really needed, after all people do not get booster every year?

Immunity is not lifelong to all diseases therefore booster vaccinations are required at appropriate intervals to maintain high antibody status. For instance, in dogs the Leptospirosis vaccine only lasts 12-14 months, there is no natural background immunity and the disease is so serious it usually causes death. Contrary to popular belief, humans do require booster vaccinations. For examples, it is rare for polio boosters to be given in the Western World where the disease has been effectively eradicated (by vaccination), but if you travel to an area where the disease is endemic e.g. India or Thailand we need a booster vaccination.

Are live vaccines dangerous?

Live vaccines provide a more rapid onset of protection, a better stimulation of the immune system and longer lasting protection. Live vaccines are tested to the same standard as dead vaccines to ensure no risk to the vaccinated animal or any in contact unvaccinated animals.

Giving all the vaccines together can lead to autoimmune disease – can they be given separately?

There is little scientifically proven evidence linking vaccination with auto-immune disease. There is, however, of increasing auto-immune disease in some breeds of dog due to their small gene pool. There is no evidence that giving different vaccine components separately is any safer than or effective than giving them at the same time.

Are homeopathic vaccines a safer alternative?

Although vaccine reactions are very rare indeed, reactions to homeopathic vaccines will be even less likely as there little or no conventional active ingredients present. However, there have been only a handful of designed clinical trials using homeopathic vaccines and these have shown no evidence of protection.

Why do vaccines cost so much?

You are not paying solely for the cost of the vaccine. The vet will give your pet a full and thorough clinical examination and take the opportunity to discuss all other aspects of health care with you for as long as you need.

Only healthy animals should be vaccinated – why?

In order for the vaccine to optimise the immune system response, we do not want it be “busy” fighting other diseases when your pet is vaccinated. The vaccine may also make your pet more poorly if given when your pet is suffering from another illness. We will not vaccinate your pet if she is in season as the immune response will be lower. If your pet has a chronic illness such as heart disease or diabetes it actually becomes more important that they are vaccinated as they are less able to fight diseases.

Can vaccines can cause skin cancer?

This has only been reported to a limited extent in the USA and Canada where the number and type of vaccine used in cats is very different to the ones used in the UK.