What Are The Different Vaccines Available For Cats?
There are many cat vaccines available today. Which ones your cat needs and how often they should be given can be very confusing. The following explains what these vaccines are, and Birdneck Animal Hospital’s recommendations for them. Our protocol is derived from recommendations by the American Association of Feline Practitioners Advisory report and other feline and immunology specialists.
Vaccine reactions can occur. They are almost always mild. The most common reaction is that the cat runs a mild fever for a day or two. This is the vaccine doing its job by stimulating the immune system. The cat may be a bit lethargic, grumpy, have some muscle soreness or off its food for a day or two. More serious vaccine reactions are extremely rare. This would be caused by an allergic reaction to something in the vaccine. Symptoms may range from facial swelling to complete collapse. Due to the very small possibility of a reaction, it is a good idea to be around your pet for a couple of hours following a vaccine. There is a suspicion that tumors have formed at vaccine administration sites due to some of the additives (adjuvants) in some vaccines. Birdneck Animal Hospital does not use these vaccines in cats.
Core vaccines are those recommended for all cats. They are:
FVRCP - This vaccine is often referred to as the cat distemper vaccine. It consists of three components that are vaccinating against Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (herpesvirus), Calicivirus, and Panleukopenia (also known as the feline parvo virus). Kittens should receive this vaccine every three to four weeks until they are between sixteen and twenty weeks of age. Not previously vaccinated adult cats should receive two vaccines three to four weeks apart. All previously vaccinated cats should receive a booster one year after its final vaccine of the series, and then a booster every three years after that. Most vaccine manufacturer’s labels recommend vaccinating every year, but outside studies have concluded that most if not all cats will maintain protective titers for at least three years. This is also true with the Feline Leukemia Vaccine.
FLV – The Feline Leukemia Vaccine. We consider this a core vaccine for all kittens and all non-previously vaccinated adult cats. Kittens are the most susceptible and get the sickest when exposed to this potentially life-threatening virus. They receive two vaccines three to four weeks apart once they are over eight weeks old. Adult cats at high risk are those that go outdoors, especially those that come in contact with other outdoor cats. Adult cats that have not been vaccinated and are at risk receive two vaccines three to four weeks apart, a booster in one year, and then a booster every three years. A cat that is repeatedly in fights with other cats may receive a vaccine annually. Very low-risk cats may not receive boosters as adults. All cats should be tested for Feline Leukemia Virus before receiving the vaccine. There is no benefit to vaccinating a cat that is already infected with the virus.
Rabies – Kittens get their first vaccine at twelve weeks old or older. At Birdneck Animal Hospital, we use a Rabies vaccine that needs to be given one a year. There are three-year vaccines on the market, but we don’t use them due to the additives in those vaccines.
Vaccines that we consider non-core and do not give are the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus vaccine, the Feline Chlamydiphila felis vaccine, the Bordatella vaccine, the Virulent systemic calicivirus vaccine, and the Feline coronavirus vaccine.
At Birdneck Animal Hospital, each vaccine is given in a different spot, so if there were an unusual reaction at a vaccine site, we would know which vaccine caused the reaction. All of our vaccines are given under the skin (subcutaneously) and, therefore, cause minimal discomfort to the cat. The FVRCP is given in left front leg. The Leukemia is given in the left rear leg. The Rabies is given in the right rear leg.
Our Feline Philosophy
At Birdneck Animal Hospital, we understand that visits to the veterinarian are difficult, and sometimes traumatic for cats, and therefore, stressful for their owners. Please visit the Cat Corner of our website for more information on how we make your cat's experience at our hospital as stress-free as possible.