In a word, Yes. To protect their health from all sorts of microscopic critters, cat vaccinations are essential to all felines. And not just once, but sometimes annually.
Even an indoor cat needs them because there is always the possibility they may escape and be exposed to harmful diseases or another cat can bring in a pathogen.
There are usually 2 categories of feline vaccinations: core that are necessary for all cats, and non-core which are used only under certain circumstances.
They help protect your cat from:
* Feline herpes virus 1(FVH1),
* Feline calicivirus (FCV),
* Feline panleukopenia virus (FPV), and
After initial inoculations with dead virus vaccines and a booster at one year, the FHV1, FCV, and FPV vaccines can be slowed to 3-year intervals, if your cat is in a low risk environment. After initial rabies shots, they are recommended annually.
The diseases that core cat vaccinations prevent are:
Feline Herpesvirus 1 (FHV1), also known as feline rhinotracheitis. It manifests as respiratory symptoms, such as sneezing, nasal discharge, rhinitis (inflammation of the nose) and conjunctivitis (inflammation of the eyelid-lining membrane). It can also strike the reproductive tract, causing pregnancy complications. FHV1 affects cats around the world.
Feline Calicivirus (FCV) is a common viral disease, usually fairly mild, but can result mouth sores, upper respiratory symptoms, pneumonia, and possibly arthritis. A flu-like condition, FCV and FHV1 make up 85 – 90% of upper respiratory feline infections.
Feline Panleukopenia Virus is a far more severe, contagious disease affecting cats, kittens, and raccoons. Typical symptoms include: diarrhea, vomiting, low white blood cell count, and seizures. FPV invades rapidly growing cells, and is so widespread that nearly all cats are exposed within their first year of life.
Rabies is transmitted from the saliva of wild animals to unvaccinated domestic animals and even humans, usually through a bite. Rabies is nearly always fatal. Prevention is the only hope.
Non-core cat vaccinations are given only to cats when circumstances indicate that they may be at particular risk for a certain disease.
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) vaccination is recommended for outdoor cats or cats having contact with other felines of unknown FeLV status. After 16 weeks of age, acquired resistance to infection develops, so it’s most effective for kittens and young cats. The middle word, leukemia, says it all.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) has only been on the market since 2002. This is also known as feline AIDS. It is not as effective as those for other viruses, and previous vaccination may not rule out infection. When deciding whether to get your cat vaccinated for FIV, research your options and discuss the matter with your veterinarian until you feel comfortable. When possible, separate the cat immediately and if it is a kitten, retest in 2 months.
Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) vaccine has a short immunity span, and its effectiveness is under debate. The rate of FIP incidents is very low — in single-cat households, only 1 in 5,000 cats are infected.
Bordetella Bronchiseptica affects mostly young kittens, causing lower respiratory tract disease. In older cats it is uncommon and can be treated with antibiotics. Vaccination is recommended only for kittens in a multiple cat environment.
The battle of disease and science rages on. Cat vaccinations put the winning odds on your side.