Cat Vaccinations

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Cat Vaccinations – Annual, triannual? What does my cat need?

As we enter the holiday season our boarding facility becomes very busy, and it’s not uncommon for a cat to arrive that doesn’t have its vaccinations up to date. Sometimes people will question the need for annual vaccination, as there is varying schedules recommended by the AVA (Australian Veterinary Association). This query is very relevant and definitely something I regularly discuss in our consult rooms, as the recommendation can be different for individual pets depending on their circumstances.

The core vaccination that we use covers three viral diseases:

  1. Parvovirus vaccination (Feline panleukopaenia). This component of the vaccination provides very robust immunity, and is speculated to be lifelong in a lot of pets if given after 16 weeks. However, I would not be happy relying on a life immunity given how terrible a disease this is, with a high mortality rate and infectious nature. There was also an outbreak of Panleukopaenia virus in Sydney earlier this year, and we had a lot of lapsed vaccinations come in to ensure adequate protection. But triannually would definitely provide enough cover.
  2. The other 2 components of the vaccination are Herpesvirus and Calicivrus. These 2 viruses are mainly responsible for flu in cats, and Herpes can cause severe eye infections, with worst cases causing permanent damage to the eye. Unfortunately, the vaccination does not produce a very good protective immunity and it doesn’t extend very much beyond a year, if that. This is the reason we perform annual vaccinations.

These recommendations come directly from the WSAVA guidelines: 

“The VGG recommends that annual revaccination of cats against FHV-1/FCV be carried out in higher-risk situations. A low-risk cat might be defined as a solitary, indoor animal that does not visit a boarding cattery. A higher-risk cat might be defined as an animal that regularly visits a boarding cattery or that lives in a multicat or indoor–outdoor household. Moreover, the VGG encourages practitioners to consider the timing of administration of FHV-1/FCV vaccines to higher-risk, regularly boarding cats. The most robust immunity conferred by these vaccines occurs within the 3-month period after vaccination (Gaskell et al. 2007) [EB1], and so administration of these vaccines might best be timed for before a regularly boarded cat is due to make an annual visit to the cattery”

So unless your cat is a completely indoor cat who never goes outside or to a cattery, an annual vaccination is recommended. In our yearly consult we would discuss the individual risk factors for each animal with their owner and decide on the necessary level of protection. You will also find that no cattery will accept a cat for boarding without having the annual vaccination, and with good reason as cat flu spreads rapidly. While often a mild disease, a certain percentage will have more severe side effects, especially if an animal is sick or has other health concerns. We also prefer to have annually vaccinated cats coming to the hospital as there is a risk in any social setting.

If you’re planning to bring your cat to our boarding, or any cattery over the holidays, please double check they are up to date with their vaccination.

If they vaccine hasn’t lapsed, we can arrange a consult when you drop him/her off for a vet examination and vaccine. However, if the vaccine is out of date, we need to vaccinate a minimum of 2 weeks before boarding to ensure there is enough protective immunity before boarding.

We genuinely want all our patients to receive the best care, and preventative medicine is at the top of our priorities. We will endeavor to update you as to when your cat’s vaccine is due when you book for boarding, and you can call at any time to find out if you plan to go to another boarding facility. 

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