Stressing Vaccinations to Help Prevent Disease
Connecticut Cat Connection strongly believes in yearly check-ups for your animals. Annual booster shots and a wellness exam is a great way to promote a long and healthy life for you pet. When it comes to cats there are several vaccines available:
What do vaccinations accomplish?
Vaccinations are given to prepare the body’s immune system against invasion by a particular disease-causing organism. Vaccinations contain antigens which to the immune system “look” like the organism but don’t, ideally, cause disease. When the vaccine is introduced by injection or some other means, the immune system responds by mounting a protective response. When the cat is subsequently exposed to the organism, the immune system is prepared and either prevents infection or reduces the severity of disease.
Feline Panleukopenia Virus Vaccine: Feline panleukopenia (also called feline distemper) is a highly contagious and deadly viral disease of cats. Feline panleukopenia virus is extremely hardy, is able to survive extremes of temperature and humidity for many months, and is resistant to most available disinfectants. Until recent years, panleukopenia was the most serious infectious disease of cats, claiming the lives of thousands every year. Thanks to the highly effective vaccines currently available, panleukopenia is now considered to be an uncommon disease. However, because of the serious nature of the disease and the continued presence of virus in the environment, vaccination is highly recommended for all cats.
Feline Calicivirus/Herpesvirus Vaccine: Feline calicivirus and feline herpes virus type I are responsible for 80-90% of infectious feline upper respiratory tract diseases. Most cats are exposed to either or both of these viruses at some time in their lives. Once infected, many cats never completely rid themselves of virus. These “carrier” cats either continuously or intermittently shed the organisms for long periods of time — perhaps for life — and serve as a major source of infection to other cats. The currently available vaccines will minimize the severity of upper respiratory infections, although none will prevent disease in all situations. Vaccination is highly recommended for all cats.
Rabies Virus Vaccine: Rabies is an increasing threat to cats. At the present time, the number of reported feline rabies cases in the United States far exceeds that of all other domestic animals. Rabies in cats is also a major public health concern. Because of the routinely fatal outcome of infection in cats, and the potential for human exposure, rabies vaccination is highly recommended for all cats; it is required by law in most areas of the country.
Feline Leukemia Virus Vaccine: Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is the leading viral killer of cats. The virus is spread from cat-to-cat through bite wounds, through casual contact with infected cats, and from an infected mother cat to her kittens. The individuals most at risk of infection are outdoor cats, indoor/outdoor cats, and cats exposed to such individuals. Cats living in households with FeLV-infected cats or with cats of unknown infection status are also at risk. Indoor-only cats with no exposure to potentially infected cats are extremely unlikely to become infected. FeLV vaccines are recommended for all cats at risk of exposure to the virus.
Chlamydia, Feline Infectious Peritonitis, and Ringworm: Vaccines are available for each of these disease-causing organisms, but their use is not routinely recommended for all cats. Your veterinarian will help guide you in deciding whether your cat should receive any of these vaccines