One of the most important things we do in our clinic is the practice of preventive medicine. Vaccinating your cat, together with other measures such as regular health checks and good nutrition, allows us to minimise the occurrence of disease in your pets. But what is it that we vaccinate against and why do we do it?
What Do We Vaccinate Against?
The core vaccines we routinely use in cats are , Feline Infectious Enteritis,Viral Rhinotracheitis and Calicivirus. Some at-risk cats are also vaccinated against Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (the cause of feline AIDS).
FELINE INFECTIOUS ENTERITIS
Feline Infectious Enteritis is caused by Feline Parvovirus, also known as Feline Panleukopaenia Virus (FPV). This often fatal disease causes ulceration of the intestinal lining, leading to bloody diarrhoea, dehydration,vomiting, anorexia and malnutrition . The virus also causes a reduction in red and white blood cell levels, compromising the cat's immune system and making them extremely susceptible to fatal secondary infections. FPV is a very tough virus, being able to survive in the environment for over a year. The virus is spread by infected body fluids, faeces, fleas, or any object that has come in contact with an infected cat.
Viral Rhinotracheitis is also known as Feline Influenza and is caused by Feline Herpesvirus. The virus can cause multiple problems, but is mostly known to cause flu symptoms including coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge and, conjunctivitis. It is a common cause of chronic or recurring flu symptoms and often leads to secondary bacterial infection. FVR is manly spread by direct contact with saliva, ocular and nasal secretions. Some cats will become carriers shed the virus intermittently for life.
Feline Caliivirus is another common cause of flu symptoms in cats. Common symptoms include sneezing, nasal discharge, conjunctivitis, fever, and ulceration of the mouth. With severe progression of the disease, then virus is able to attack various organs in the body, causing lethargy, jaundice, oedema and death. Calicivirus is excreted in most body fluids and feces, as well as being able to transmit through the air. Some symptomless cats can shed the virus continuously.
FELINE IMMUNODEFICIENCY VIRUS (FIV)
Like HIV in humans, FIV infection in cats can cause to Feline Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome or AIDS. Since the virus suppresses the immune system, infected cats may become susceptible to chronic infections and even certain cancers. Others become asymptomatic carriers. Transmission is via the saliva through deep bite wounds or scratches, making entire, territorial males more prone to contracting this disease. We have been diagnosis a few cases of FIV recently, so vaccinating against this disease is worth consideration for those cats at risk. Click here for more information regarding this disease.
Importance of Vaccinating
Vaccinating your cat not only helps protect your pet from the above infectious diseases, but also helps keep the prevalence of these viruses to a minimum. Current vaccination is usually mandatory for your cat to stay and various boarding facilities. The health check your cat receives prior to immunisation is also extremely important as this allows Veterinarians to discover abnormalities or diseases in their early stages, allowing us to intervene early and sometimes prevent potentially fatal outcomes.
Young cats required up to three vaccinations to maximise immunity and the course is normally completed by 16 weeks of age. Adult cats will require regular boosters to maintain immunity.
If you have any questions regarding the immunisation of your cat, please feel free to contact us at the Mornington Veterinary clinic and we will be happy to assist.