How Do Vaccines Work?
Vaccines contain harmless strains of the viruses or bacteria that can often affect your cat. After vaccination your cat’s immune system will generate a protection that should prevent illness if the dangerous forms of these infections are encountered. This is especially important as some of these infections are incurable and some may be fatal.
When Should They Be Vaccinated?
Kittens can be given their first vaccination from 9 weeks of age and a second vaccination from 12 weeks of age. An annual booster is then necessary to maintain the cat’s immunity, ensuring the best level of protection.
Which Diseases Can We Vaccinate Against?
Feline Herpesvirus – This virus is one of the main causes of “cat flu”, a highly infectious, multi-factorial respiratory tract syndrome that is extremely common, especially in kittens. The virus can affect the upper respiratory system and may also affect the eyes. Affected cats can suffer longterm illness and can become lifelong carriers of the disease, suffering relapses in times of stress.
Feline Calicivirus – This is another important viral contributor to “cat flu” and can also affect the oral cavity, causing large ulcers on the surface of the tongue.
Feline Panleucopenia – This disease is similar to canine parvovirus and so can cause severe vomiting and diarrhoea especially in young, unvaccinated kittens. Infections are often fatal.
Feline Leukaemia Virus – This virus damages the cat’s immune system and can also cause cancer. It is widespread within the UK and is untreatable.
Chlamydia – This organism is common within the UK and can cause chronic conjunctivitis which is often very slow to respond to antibiotic treatment.
Rabies – The advent of the PETS (Pet Travel Scheme) has enabled cats that are vaccinated against rabies to travel to and from most European countries, provided they satisfy the other scheme requirements.
Why Are Annual Boosters Needed?
A single vaccination will not produce lifelong immunity to the diseases and yearly boosters are required to maintain full, continuous protection.