A recent outbreak of Feline Panleucopaenia in Sydney and Melbourne serves as a reminder to ensure our cat’s vaccinations are up to date.
What diseases do we routinely vaccinate against?
The world small animal veterinary association has divided vaccines into:
‘core’ vaccines, which are diseases they recommend all cats are vaccinated against.
‘non-core’ vaccines which are recommend for some but not all cats.
Research is also being performed into ‘duration of immunity’ which has shown that immunity against some of the diseases we vaccinate against may last for more that the conventional year between boosters.
The 3 ‘core’ vaccines for cats are Feline Panleucopaenia, Feline Calicivirus and Feline Herpesvirus.
Feline Panleucopaenia: is a virus which most commonly causes gastrointestinal disease such as vomiting and diarrhoea. Kittens are most susceptible to the disease but unvaccinated adult cats may also be affected.
Feline Calicivirus or Cat Flu: is a virus which can cause inflammation of the upper respiratory tract but may also cause ulceration of the mouth or nose, present as pneumonia, as arthritis or as a bleeding disorder. Once a cat is infected with the disease they can remain persistently infected and can remain as a source of infection to susceptible cats.
Feline Herpesvirus: is a virus that causes upper respiratory symptoms such as sneezing and nasal discharge. Affected cats may also develop ulcers and sequestra of the cornea of their eyes. Some cats that are affected by the disease but recover from it can suffer from relapses, often at times of stress, and remain as carriers of the disease to infect other cats.
So, how often should we vaccinate cats against these diseases?
In broad terms, current recommendations are to vaccinate against Feline Panleucopaenia every 3 years. Cats who have access to other cats, for example cats who visit boarding catteries or go outdoors should have annual boosters against Feline Herpesvirus and Feline Calicivirus.
The most common ‘non core’ vaccines in Australia:
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV): is a virus that is most commonly spread in saliva when cats fight. FIV causes immune suppression, so affected cats often present for recurrent minor infections. They may also be affected by other conditions such as renal disease, or cancer. There is often a lag time between infection and the first noted.The current recommendation for FIV vaccination is annual boosters.
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