When vaccines are given, the immune system responds by a protective response. Then when the cat is exposed to that particular organism, the immune system can either prevent infection or reduce the severity of the disease. The choice for your cat’s vaccine will be decided by your veterinarian and several factors:
- The age and health of the cat
- The risk that the cat poses to humans ( for example, rabies)
- The risk of infection
- The exposure the cat has to other cats and / or the environment the cat lives in.
The most common vaccines are:
Feline Calicivirus / Herpes virus: an infectious upper respiratory tract disease. Once infected, many cats do not recover totally and become “carriers” either continuously or off and on. This vaccine is usually recommended for all cats.
Feline leukemia virus (FeLV): is spread from cat to cat through bite wounds and from an infected mother cat to her kittens. Most at risk are outdoor cats, and indoor / outdoor cats. This vaccine may be recommended: however, the risk of cancer at the injection site has been a problem. Whether to give this vaccine should be discussed with your veterinarian.
Feline Panleukopenia virus (feline distemper): a highly contagious and deadly viral disease that can survive extreme temperatures for many months plus is resistant to most disinfectants. It was once considered the most infectious disease for cats but, thanks to very effective vaccines, it is now considered an uncommon disease. But, due to the very serious nature of this disease and its continued presence, this vaccine is recommended.
Rabies vaccine: Because of the fatal nature of rabies, and due to the number of increased incidences of rabies in cats, this has become a major public health concern. A rabies vaccine is high recommended for all cats and can be required by law in many parts of the country.
There are also vaccines for Chlamydia (can cause an upper respiratory infection), ringworm and Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP - causes inflammation of certain organs in the body) are available but are not usually recommended. Again, it will be the decision of your veterinarian what vaccines would be best for your cat.
Always make sure to keep up to date records of your cat’s vaccine records. If you need a copy you can contact the veterinary assistant at your vet hospital to obtain this information.