Infectious diseases are a common cause of illness seen in cats. Some of these can even be fatal. Cat vaccinations give them the best chance of avoiding fighting off these diseases and to help them live long, happy lives.
How do cat vaccinations work?
A cat vaccine works by stimulating a pet’s immune system so they are prepared for when they come in contact with a real virus. Small representative portions of a virus are used to cause the body to produce antibodies. These antibodies latch on to a virus to neutralise it before it takes hold in your cat.
How often do cats need vaccines?
Vaccines are only needed when your cat’s antibody levels for certain viruses are low. Over time, these levels deplete and your cat will require re-vaccination. This time frame can vary for each individual cat. Some cat’s produce a much stronger immune system response than others.
Two choices exist when it comes to vaccinations. You can either re-vaccinate yearly to help keep circulating antibody levels high, or you can have a blood test called a titre test.
A titre test measures the level of antibodies in your cat’s body to determine if another cat vaccination is actually required at the time. If levels remain high from a previous vaccination, then re-vaccination can be postponed.
Types of Cat Vaccines
F3 : feline rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, panleukopenia.
F4: F3 + chlamydia
F5: F4 + feline luekaemia (FeLV)
F6 (F5 + FIV): F5 + FIV (Feline Aids)
Cat Vaccination Schedule
Perth Vet Care’s recommended cat vaccination schedule is as follows:
Strictly Indoor Only
8 weeks: F3 vaccination
12 weeks: F3 vaccination
Some Outdoor Exposure
8 weeks: F5 + FIV
10 weeks: FIV
12 weeks: F5 + FIV
Yearly: F3 (indoor) or F5+FIV (outdoor) vaccination
Vaccination Side Effects
Because vaccinations stimulate a pet’s immune system, they should only be given to healthy animals. Vaccination side effects in healthy animals are rare and when they occur are usually mild and self-limiting. The risk and severity is considered far less than that of your pet contracting the actual diseases the vaccines protect against. Side effects may involve temporary swelling or hair loss at the site of vaccine injection, fever, mild lethargy and sleepiness for 24-48 hours after the vaccination.
As with all drugs, very rare, more serious systemic reactions are still possible. This may include severe anaphylactic reactions.
If your pet experiences the following symptoms, be sure to contact a vet:
- difficulty breathing
- loss of appetite
Some pets react not to the vaccine but to the type of carrier agent the vaccine comes with. As a result, trialling a different brand of vaccine may be useful when adverse reactions occur.