August in National Immunization Month so it’s time to have a spotlight on our pet’s vaccines! Vaccines for pets are a big topic and can be very confusing. My hope is to clear up some confusion and, hopefully, convince you to vaccinate your pet for something that they aren’t already receiving. Also, because this is such a large topic, in this article we are going to focus on feline or cat vaccines. Visit my previous post on canine or dog vaccinations by clicking here.
Vaccines for all animals are divided into two categories, core and non-core vaccines. Core vaccines are ones that every pet should be receiving as all individuals are considered “at risk” of developing the disease that is being vaccinated against. Non-core vaccines are based on lifestyle and are not necessarily recommended for every pet. A quick conversation with your veterinarian will help to identify which vaccines are appropriate for your pet.
Feline Core Vaccines
There are two core vaccinations for cats – Rabies and Distemper. The distemper vaccine can have multiple names, but the components of the vaccine are the same. The distemper vaccine protects against feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia.
Rabies vaccinations are required in the state of Connecticut for every animal by twelve weeks of age. Rabies vaccines are important for animals, but also their families. Rabies is what we called zoonotic, meaning that animals can transmit this to their people, unintentionally. And we have no known cure for Rabies, which can be fatal, so this vaccination is extremely important. So, vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate!
Feline Non-Core Vaccines
The only non-core vaccination for cats is the FeLV vaccine or Feline Leukemia vaccine. Feline Leukemia is transmitted primarily in large cat colonies, such as outdoor cats, through saliva and blood. Often, we say that cats that fight are more prone to developing this disease as that is when saliva and blood is most likely to be exchanged.
An FeLV vaccine is recommended for any cat that spends time outdoors or for cats who belong to people that work in the veterinary profession, shelter environment or other group cat setting.
When it comes to boostering vaccines and vaccine series, your veterinarian knows best and has only the best interest of your pet in mind. The science of immunology sets the standards for our vaccine protocols. There are specific rules to follow with vaccine series. Any deviation from these rules and a series is at risk of being restarted.
Is your pet overdue on vaccines? Certain vaccines require repeating a booster series to maintain effectiveness, while others do not. Ask your veterinarian what’s right for your pet.
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