Vaccination protocols for your cat can change dramatically depending on their style of living. Aspects of your cat’s lifestyle that will be considered is whether they are strictly an indoor cat compared to a free-roaming outdoor cat. It is essential to remember your kitten should start receiving vaccinations as young as 8 weeks old, your veterinarian can help you develop the proper protocol for your animal. The following vaccines (FRCP and Rabies) are considered core and are always recommended to be kept up to date:
- Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis: This is a highly contagious upper respiratory virus that is everywhere in our environment. Meaning all cats are likely to encounter this disease within their lifetime. Infected cats tend to have respiratory infections that come and go throughout their entire life span which can be fatal in kittens. Decreased appetite, sneezing and discharge from the eyes and nose are often seen.
- Calicivirus: This also is a highly contagious severe upper respiratory infection but can also cause ulcers that may be seen on the tongue and in the mouth, along with severe inflammation in the mouth. This viral infection is spread by direct contact with an infected cat or an infected environment. Calicivirus infections can be life threatening and cats surviving usually remain infected for long periods of time.
- Panleukopenia (Feline Distemper): This is a widespread often fatal disease, even with aggressive treatment. This disease causes a sudden onset of severe vomiting and diarrhea and eventually neurological symptoms. Not only is this virus hardy in the environment leading to almost all cats becoming exposed during their lives but unborn kittens can become infected from their mothers. This virus is extremely dangerous in kittens but fatalities can still occur in adult cats.
- Rabies: This is a viral disease that carries a serious public health risk as it is 100% fatal to cats, dogs and even humans. It attacks the central nervous system and causes grave neurological problems leading to death. Having your animal up to date on this vaccination is extremely important. This virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected animal. If your non vaccinated animal was to ever bite a human, a mandatory quarantine period would be required by law. Routine vaccination is the key to controlling this dreaded disease.
The following vaccine is optional but always recommended for cats that freely roam outdoors or in are in homes where new cats are often brought in. Before starting this optional vaccine in your yearly protocol, it is highly recommended to have your animal first tested for the disease to deem your animal disease-free:
- Feline Leukemia: This virus causes a decrease ability of your cat’s immune system to respond to infections and fighting off cancerous cells. Meaning this virus leads to life-long infections and an increased chance of acquiring cancer due to a suppressed immune system. This virus is passed from cat to cat only by direct contact usually by cat fights, therefore cats who free-roaming and have contact with cats of unknown vaccination status are at extreme risk. Life spans of cats infected is very short and usually very debilitating.