Cat vaccines are available in most developed countries and having your pet vaccinated should be high on your priority list when you bring home a new kitty. Why? Because the very fact that you have chosen to give a cat a home means that you care.
And providing good cat care means helping to prevent them from catching and suffering from some very nasty illnesses, many of which can kill.
The cost of cat vaccinations is not as much as you may think. Once your pet has had their initial dose, the following years all they require are boosters which are a lot cheaper.
Also the cost is far cheaper than that of any medical treatment should your cat become sick. Prevention is always better than cure!
Here in the UK, cat vaccines are available against these cat health problems:
In addition to these the USA also have these cat vaccines available:
Cat Flu -This is the vaccine that most cat owners have heard of. Cat Flu is very common and most vets consider a vaccination against it to be essential. However, because there are so many different strains of Flu, cat vaccinations will not totally eradicate the disease from the feline population, but your cat's chances of suffering from it will be greatly reduced. There are two types of Cat Flu that are vaccinated against: feline herpesvirus (FHV-1) and feline calicivirus (FCV).
Feline Infectious Enteritis (FIE). -Another essential vaccine! Cat vaccinations against this disease have proved to be very successful. Feline Infectious Enteritis is caused by the feline parvovirus or feline panleukopenia virus. This infects the cats gut and is so severe it can often be fatal. The virus is very common in the environment so unvaccinated cats are at great risk of contracting the disease.
Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV) - Another essential vaccination, and another one most cat owners have heard of! This virus can lead to diseases like progressive anaemia, lymphoma (a form of cancer) and leukaemia. It is often fatal with most cats dying within three years of diagnosis. Cats can only contract the virus directly, usually from a bite from another cat, but considering the serious nature of the disease and that the infection lasts for the cat's lifetime, most vets consider this vaccination essential.
Feline Chlamydophilosis - This is a type of bacteria that causes conjunctivitis in cats. It is spread by direct contact between cats and is often seen in kittens or in households with many cats living together. For these reasons it is best to discuss your own situation with your vet, and they will be able to advise you if this vaccine is necessary or not.
Bordetella bronchiseptica – This is a bacterial infection which can lead onto pneumonia. Cats are most at risk from this illness during stays in catteries or kennels and therefore it is advisable to have your cat vaccinated against this before leaving your cat in one for your vacation.
Rabies – This viral infection nearly always kills its victim and is transmitted from an infected animal via its saliva.
Feline infectious peritonitis – this is caused by a virus known as coronavirus and leads to death. Although the coronvirus is very common and usually does not cause much trouble, it can mutate and it is this new strain which becomes FIP.
Feline immunodeficiency virus – As the name suggests it is a virus which affects the immune system. Weakening it so that over time, the cat finds it harder and harder to fight off even the most common virus. Often cats who contract FIV can lead healthy lives for many years, with only symptoms showing later on in life. However because the immune system also prevents illnesses from developing, felines with FIV may contract far more cat health problems during their life time.
The use of cat vaccines should be something every new cat owner has done within the first few weeks of owning their new pet. Kittens should be vaccinated from week 12 as this is when their natural immunity from their mother's milk starts to reduce.
A record of the cat vaccines should be kept and if you are re-homing a cat from animal shelter, try to get a medical history from them and also find out what treatments your new cat may have had whilst in their care.
I can't overestimate how important protecting your cat from these horrible illnesses is. I recently experienced one of them and nearly lost my two kitties! In fact let me say that because viruses mutate and change all the time (just like human flu) having some of these cat vaccinations may not completely prevent your kitty from getting ill, but it will give them a better chance of surviving because their immune system is ready for a similar virus. Read my experience of the Calicivirus here which highlights why cat vaccines should be an essential part of any good cat care regime.