Cat Vaccination

Why Vaccinate my Cat?

Vaccination allows your cat to develop immunity to dangerous diseases. This means that if your cat comes into contact with a disease, it will be protected and will not get ill. If your cat is not protected by vaccination there is a risk of catching diseases such as cat flu and Feline leukaemia virus.

How do I get my Cat Vaccinated?

You need to go to your vet to get your cat vaccinated. First, your vet will examine your cat to check that it is healthy then they will advise you on which vaccinations your cat needs. This will depend on factors such as your cat’s age, lifestyle and history.

How Often Does my Cat Need Vaccinating?

If your cat or kitten has not had any vaccinations before, it will need a first round, or ‘primary course’ of vaccinations. This is usually two vaccinations but may be three depending on the type of vaccine and the disease profile for your area.

Your cat will not protected by the vaccine until a few weeks after the primary course, Ask your vet exactly how long it will take before the vaccination becomes effective; this will depend on the particular type of vaccine that they are using. After this primary course your cat will require boosters every year, this is also very important for older cats. Cats should not be vaccinated when pregnant.

For Which Diseases Does My Cat Need to be Vaccinated?

The table below lists all diseases that it is possible to vaccinate against in the UK. There are certain vaccinations that all cats need to have. These ‘core’ vaccines are marked with an asterisk. Some cats will require extra vaccinations depending on their lifestyle and background.

Cat Flu* Cause Feline Herpes Virus (Rhinotracheitis virus) Calicivirus

Symptoms ‘Flu like symptoms’ eye and nose discharge, sneezing, sore eyes, blocked nose, mouth ulcers, anorexia, lethargy. Can cause long term eye problems and recurring flu symptoms throughout life.

How is it spread? From cat to cat, carrier cats with no symptoms can also spread the disease. It can be carried on clothing etc.

Which cats should be vaccinated? All cats

Panleucopaenia* Cause Feline Panleukopaenia Virus (Feline Parvovirus)

Symptoms Severe watery diarrhoea, fever, anorexia (lack of appetite), vomiting, immune system damage. Can cause death, infertility and nervous system problems in kittens.

How is it spread? Virus in faeces from an infected cat can stay in the environment for up to a year, infecting other cats. Can also be passed from a mother to her kittens.

Which cats should be vaccinated? All cats

Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) Cause Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV)
Symptoms Bone marrow damage resulting in anaemia, immune system damage and blood clotting problems. Cats with FeLV are 60 times more likely than normal cats to develop lymphoma, it can also cause leukaemia.

How is it spread? From contact with the saliva of another cat eg grooming, fighting or sharing a food bowl. Also contact with urine or faeces and from mother to kitten.

Which cats should be vaccinated? Kittens that will be allowed outdoors, older cats if they have not been exposed to the virus, ask your vet for advice.

Chlamydia Cause Chlamydophila felis (formally C.psittaci)

Symptoms Severe conjunctivitis that requires treatment.

How is it spread? Contact with another cat, usually in a multicat household or rescue centre.

Which cats should be vaccinated? Cats living with other cats where there have been previous problems with Chlamydia

Bordetella Cause Bordetella bronchiseptica

Symptoms Coughing, sneezing, pneumonia

How is it spread? Exposure to infected cats especially in multi-cat households, rescue centres, catteries and shows.

Which cats should be vaccinated? Cats living with other cats where there have been previous problems with Bordetella.

Rabies Cause Rabies virus

Symptoms All cats that contract rabies will die. It causes fatal damage to the nervous system.

How is it spread? A bite from an animal that is infected with rabies.

Which cats should be vaccinated? All cats travelling on the PETs scheme or to areas of the world where Rabies is endemic.

Are Vaccines Effective?

No vaccine can be guaranteed to provide 100% protection. The vaccine works by stimulating your cat’s immune system, if the immune system is not working properly for any reason the vaccine will not work properly. Some vaccinations such as Chlamydia and Bordetella do not claim to prevent the disease completely. Instead, they reduce the likelihood of your cat contracting the disease and often making it less severe if they do catch it.

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