What is vaccination?
Vaccination is a means of protecting your cat against some of the most serious cat diseases, by giving a primary course of 2 injections (primovaccination) then “topping up” the cover with yearly boosters (rappels). No vaccine provides 100% protection, but they enable your cat to fight the infections more effectively.
So what are considered the basic vaccinations for a cat?
1) Cat ‘flu. (Coryza): This is caused by herpesvirus and calicivirus. The main symptoms are conjunctivitis, nasal discharge, and sometimes oral ulcers, coughing, and joint pain. It is highly contagious, and can be fatal in kittens or elderly cats. Affected cats can become carriers, who excrete the virus intermittently throughout their lives, especially when stressed (in a cattery or when ill).
2) Feline Infectious Enteritis (Typhus): This is caused by a parvovirus resulting in acute diarrhoea and lowering of the immune response of the cat. It is also highly infectious and in kittens or elderly cats can be rapidly fatal due to dehydration.
These two vaccines are the minimal vaccination requirements, even for indoor cats as humans may bring the infection into the house.
Other vaccinations that can be given include:
3) Chlamydia (Chlamydia): This is a bacterial infection that causes severe conjunctivitis and sometimes lung infection. Chlamydia can also cause infertility in breeding queen cats.
4) Feline Leukaemia (leucose feline): A sinister viral disease which destroys the immune system allowing the cat to fall victim to all sorts of infections and certain tumours. It has been shown that 80% of diagnosed cats succumb to one of the consequences within three years. Cats can contract leukaemia before birth, from mating or being bitten by infected cats. In addition saliva exchange during mutual grooming in multi cat households can spread the disease over time. This vaccine is recommended for cats that meet other cats.
Unfortunately there is another immune destroying virus called Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV- immunodéficience féline). There is, as yet, no vaccine against this disease.
5) Rabies (rage): This is a fatal disease for humans as well. It is a requirement for all carnivore pets when crossing borders within the EU to have this vaccine. To give the vaccine your pet needs to be identified (microchip (puce) or tattoo – preferably the former), and be issued with a passport.
The vaccination appointment includes a full clinical examination and discussion of any matter arising. Particularly as your cat gets older, it will benefit from these examinations as problems are more likely to be spotted sooner.
•With thanks to Diana James
Photo by Vojtech Sobek