Vaccination has revolutionised control of infectious disease in our pets. It is essential that all pets are adequately vaccinated to help protect the pet population as a whole. Responsible pet care requires kittens to be given their initial course of vaccinations, but this cannot protect them for the rest of their lives. Adult cats require regular vaccination to maintain immunity against disease.
At The Pet Doctors we routinely vaccinate against the major viral infections of cats: Feline Enteritis (Panleucopenia) and Feline Respiratory Disease (Cat Flu/Snuffles). In certain circumstances, such as if you cat fights with other cats then we will also recommend vaccination against Feline Immunodeficiency virus (FIV).
Feline Leukaemia Virus is seen rarely in New Zealand, and Chlamydia is quite easily treated so we currently do not routinely vaccinate against these infections.
Kittens are ‘temporarily’ protected against many diseases by antibodies received through their mother’s milk. These maternal antibodies decline in the first couple of months of their lives, however until they drop sufficiently they can also neutralise vaccines. This is why a series of vaccinations is necessary for a kitten. Initial vaccination programs should provide three vaccinations 3 weeks apart, generally starting at 6 weeks of age. Three vaccinations, 3 weeks apart, against feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) are recommended from 9 weeks of age.
Adult Cat Vaccination
The immunity from kitten vaccinations weakens over time and your pet can again become susceptible to disease. Annual health checks and booster vaccinations will provide the best protection for the life of your pet.
Please contact us to discuss a suitable vaccination regime for your pet kitten or cat.
Infectious Diseases of Cats that we Routinely Vaccinate Against
Feline Enteritis (also known as Feline Panleucopenia)
A highly contagious disease with a high death rate, especially in cats under 12 months of age. Pregnant cats may lose their young or give birth to kittens with abnormalities, quite often with brain damage. Symptoms are:
The virus spreads so easily that heavily contaminated areas require cleaning with a special disinfectant. Cats that recover may continue to carry the virus for some time and infect other cats.
Feline Respiratory Disease (Cat flu)
Feline respiratory disease affects cats of all ages but especially young kittens. It is caused by feline herpesvirus and / or feline calcicvirus.and both are highly contagious causing:
- Runny eyes
- Nasal discharge
- Loss of appetite
- Tongue ulcers.
Fortunately, the death rate is low except in young kittens, but the disease is distressing and may persist for several weeks. Recovered cats can continue to carry and spread the infection for long periods, and can show signs of the disease again if they become stressed. Damage to the delicate lining of the respiratory tract can lead to scarring and deformity, causing some cats to show signs of chronic snuffles for the remainder of their lives.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV or Feline AIDs)
Feline AIDS is a disease caused by infection with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and affects the cat’s immune system. Their natural defense against attack by other diseases may be seriously affected, much in the same way as human AIDS. . There is no cure for this disease and vaccination provides the best protection available. In adult cats, a blood test may be conducted before vaccination to check for prior exposure to FIV.
This disease is not transmissible to humans.
FIV is almost always transmitted by bites from infected cats. The virus that causes the disease is present in saliva.
While some infected cats show no sign of disease, others may display initial symptoms such as:
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen lymph nodes
As the disease progresses, symptoms may occur such as weight loss, sores in and around the mouth, eye lesions, poor coat and chronic infections. Since the immune system helps to protect against cancers, these cats at are at a higher risk of developing tumours and leukaemias.
Eventually, the immune system becomes too weak to fight off other infections and diseases. As a result, the cat may die from one of these subsequent infections Unfortunately in New Zealand, many cats are infected with this virus.
Infectious Diseases of Cats that we do NOT Commonly Vaccinate Against
Chlamydia (also known as Chlamydophila)
Feline Chlamydia causes a severe persistent conjunctivitis in up to 30% of cats and infertility in breeding cats.Kittens are more severely affected by Chlamydia when also infected with “Cat Flu”, and Chlamydia can be shed for many months. The disease is treated with a course of antibiotics for 3 weeks.
Feline Leukaemia (FeLV)
Feline Leukaemia is a serious disease of cats caused by feline leukaemia virus. Overseas FeLV is associated with causing lymphoma, the most commonly encountered systemic cancer in cats.
The virus attacks the immune system and may be associated with:
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
- Pale or yellow mucous membranes (gums)
- Vomiting, diarrhoea
- Reproductive problems
- Increased susceptibility to other infections, leukaemia and tumours
- Many cats may be infected and show no signs at all.
About one third of infected cats remain chronically infected and may shed virus in their saliva, tears, nasal secretions and urine. The disease is then spread to uninfected cats by mutual grooming, fighting, sneezing or even flea bites.As the disease progresses, symptoms may occur such as weight loss, sores in and around the mouth, eye lesions, poor coat and chronic infections.
Eventually, the immune system becomes too weak to fight off other infections and diseases. As a result, the cat may die from one of these subsequent infections.
After Vaccination Care
Following vaccination, your cat may be off-colour for a day or two or have some slight swelling or tenderness at the injection site. Access to food and water and a comfortable area to rest are usually all that is required for a quick recovery. However, if the response seems more severe, you should contact us for advice.